“I never thought of myself as special”, claims Lata Mangeshkar as she turns 90

Didi, it is that time of the year again?

What? You mean my birthday? What’s so special about it? It’s like any other day, isn’t it?No, Didi. Correction. It’s the day you were born. The day the most gifted singer that civilization has ever been gifted, was born…

Aap aisa sochte hain yeh aapka badappan hai (if you think that way it’s your greatness). I’ve never thought of myself as special.

No, Didi. Correction. It’s the day you were born. The day the most gifted singer that civilization has ever been gifted, was born…

Aap aisa sochte hain yeh aapka badappan hai (if you think that way it’s your greatness). I’ve never thought of myself as special.

Not even when the world’s greatest artistes’ statesmen and connoisseurs of music have declared you the greatest ever?

No, never. I never thought of myself as special even when those who have heard and appreciated my singing said I was. For me, the constant effort in life has been to better myself as a person and an artiste.

Javed Akhtar says your singing epitomize perfection. How can you improve on perfection?

Oh, there are so many of my songs that are considered flawless but are actually flawed. I can hear those flaws that you can’t. And believe me; I cringe every time I hear those flaws in my singing.

Can you tell point out some of your ‘flawed’ songs for me?

No, why should I? Don’t you prefer to keep believing that they are flawless songs?

I suppose so. You said you have constantly striven to improve yourself as a human being .Where did you see yourself in the need of improvement?

My biggest personality flaw was my fierce temper. Even as a child I had a major temper issue. I would get angry very quickly. This changed as I grew older. Then there came time when my temper vanished. Now I don’t get angry at all. I sometimes wonder what happened to my fierce temper.

In spite of your incomparable talent and success I’ve always seen you as being humble. How did you manage to remain unaffected by your phenomenal success?

I don’t know…I have always been like that. I was taught by my parents to forgive and forget when wronged by anyone. I’ve tried to follow that.

Didi, I know of so many who have taken advantage of your generous forgiving nature?

God bless them all. I’ve never been vain or arrogant about my abilities. Because I feel if I can sing well it is a gift that I’ve got from God and my parents. I always treated my singing as a special privilege. I nurtured it as a privilege.

What advice would you give to upcoming aspiring singers?

Riyaaz (practice). Every singer who is serious about singing must do riyaaz. To this day I try to do my riyaaz as frequently as possible.

Despite your partiality towards popular singing you are extraordinarily adept at singing classical songs in films such as ‘Man Mohana Bade Jhoothe’ (Seema) and ‘Mose Chal Kiye Jaa’ (Guide)

The filmy classical song is not pure classical. Given a chance I’d have loved to sit with a tanpura on a stage to perform uninterrupted for two hours. But where was the time? I was recording songs round the clock

Any unfulfilled dreams?

I loved photography and painting. I wish I had time to pursue these interests.

What is your message to your millions of bhakts across the world?

Do your dharm and respect your karm. Success will follow. Nothing comes without hard work.

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