New Delhi: Famous music composer Vanraj Bhatia always said, “Lata is a composer’s dream”, which no one will dispute. However, how many film music connoisseurs know that Lata Mangeshkar was also a dream composer?
Beyond Maharashtra and parts of Karnataka, the world has hardly noticed Lata Mangeshkar, the music composer on par with one of music’s greats. She had even taken a pseudonym, Anandghan, literally, “a cloud of ananda (joy)”.
Lata Mangeshkar has composed the music only for Marathi films. The first was “Ram Ram Pahuna” in 1950. For the next four for which she composed the music, she masked her identity behind the pseudonym Anandghan. The films were ‘Mohityanchi Manjula’ (1963), ‘Maratha Tituka Melvava’ (1964), ‘Saadhi Manasa’ (1965) and ‘Tambdii Mati’ (1969).
The reason why she adopted a pseudonym has been well documented over the years by the Marathi language media. Veteran director Bhalji Pendharkar adored Lata as his daughter. When he was working on ‘Mohityanchi Manjula’, he realized that none of the reputable music directors were available at that time.
When he shared his concern with Lata, she quickly said, “I will.” Pendharkar warned her that the kind of music needed was very different due to the story’s rustic background. “No problem, I will,” reiterated a confident Lata.
He was worried and questioned her about the possible damage to her image if she failed. Then came the idea of adopting a name to compose. Pendharkar suggested a few names, but Lata focused on Anandghan.
Not just ‘Mohityanchi Manjula’, the other films for which Lataji composed music also had excellent compositions which are etched in the collective memory of Marathi music connoisseurs and a list of Marathi film music is incomplete without these. She even had famous flautist Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasiya play for one of her songs.
Lataji wanted to keep his identity a secret, but the film went on to receive the state government award for best music, among others. The announcer said that Anandghan was none other than Lata, then she reluctantly agreed to go public.
But then, why didn’t she continue?
“Lata Didi was not a music composer in the conventional sense of the word,” said Kushal Inamdar, a famous contemporary music director.
“She may not have been inclined even when her songs as a composer would have been the best. She may also have felt that Lata as a music composer would eventually threaten other composers, which, at in turn, could have affected her work as a singer,” Inamdar added.
“He’s a real genius. But you have to produce something new and that too continuously. Being a music composer requires a different kind of emotional investment in this craft and frankly, with this talent pool of so many versatile composers , she did.. she didn’t even have to,” Inamdar explained.
Ideally, Lata Didi as a singer and Lata Didi as a music composer should not be compared because the skills needed for the two roles are different. As Inamdar said, “She’s perfected her singing. She’s a genius.”