Mumbai: The nightingale of the nation, Lata Mangeshkar, has suddenly hit a shrill note. What has set her off is the story of the former railway platform singer Ranu Mondal becoming famous for her rendition of Lata's evergreen song, Ek pyaar ka naghma hai, and is now getting offers from musicians. Musician Himesh Reshamiyya has recorded a song with Mondal.
When Mangeshkar was asked how she felt about Mondal’s fame, in her inimitable style, she is said to have responded,
“Agar mere naam aur kaam se kisiko bhala hota hai toh main apne aapko khushkismat samajhti hoon. (I consider myself fortunate if anyone benefits from my name and work).
Immediately after, however, Mangeshkar hit an off-note saying, “But I also feel imitation is not a reliable and durable companion for success.” She added those who were singing melodies that she or Kishore Kumar or Mohammed Rafi or Mukesh or Asha Bhosale had already immortalised could only draw short-term attention.
This comment drew a lot flak on social media, as Tweeple felt she should have shown more grace. “Being gracious wouldn't hurt, especially at this age. Besides, how does one begin singing if not by practicing songs by other singers before "finding" your own voice?” said Atul Karmarkar.
Another said, “@WickedFeline_ This should have been taken in true spirit by a senior artist like Lata ji.”
Imitation is human nature, as every human being learns by imitating those close to them or a person they are inspired by. One picks up language, habit and grooming cues from one’s parents, teachers and other 'influencers'. One’s perspective in life too is determined by the icons and heroes one believes in. The Marvel Comics superheroes have shaped many a young mind. And Bollywood has honed imitation to a fine art.
In fact, Mangeshkar has sung quite a few songs that have been an imitation or ‘inspired’ by western tunes -- Ajeeb daastan hai yeh -- copied from the 'Island Song' or the Gumnaam title track, inspired by the theme song of Charade. It cannot be that the songstress can only be the one who inspires and never among those who are inspired. In her early days, her singing style was a lot like that of Noorjehan.
Many others on Twitter went on to list a few urban legends about Mangeshkar and her sister Asha Bhosale, both accused of monopoly and not allowing newcomers to succeed. “The truth must be told - These two sisters are responsible for destroying careers and lives of many singers. They held producers as hostages. No doubt why they believe in vultures…” tweeted Faiz.
However, there is no surprise Lata has snubbed Mondal. The singing sisters are not known to have taken any outsider under their wing to transmit their art.
“This egoistic jealous lady never supported rare street talent thinking their singing business can go under the http://coffin. No wonder she made millions & runs a huge business empire,” said Shahez.
Meanwhile, some believe this is just a start for Mondal, who has stepped into the celebrity world by singing Lata’s songs. Now she has to develop her own style and voice.
“It will sound harsh but it is true! Not to take away the fact that Ranu Mondol has wonderful vocal cords! She should develop her own style and she can! She has suffered enough to bring her own individual self into her voice,” said Sukriti Gupta.