On the phone, he greeted me by saying ‘Namaskar’ in an enthusiastic tone in his very melodious voice. In response I said in a low voice, ‘Hello ma’am, I am a big fan of you.’
After all, Lata Mangeshkar doesn’t get a chance to talk every day, especially when she’s almost retired from public life after singing over 25,000 songs in 36 Indian languages for nearly eight decades.
But I didn’t see the slightest ego in his voice. He replied to my salutation in a nervous voice by saying ‘Oh no, thank you, thank you’.
The occasion was the release of ‘Okay Nahi Lagta’, a Vishal Bhardwaj-Gulzar composition that met after 20 years and released on 28 September 2021, his 92nd birthday.
I was initially asked to send just five questions and was promised voice notes in return. I sent questions, assumed that there could be no interview at all.
After about ten days I got a call that I can talk to him directly. My first reaction was an imaginary kick to me for not thinking too much about the list of questions I had prepared. His last interview with PTI Bhasha was only ten minutes long, but for me, a journalist and a fan, that was enough.
Lata spoke slowly, emphasizing on each sentence, recalling in detail the experiences of working with Gulzar and Bhardwaj. He praised the great lyricist.
Lata said, ‘Gulzar sahib writes very well and the whole country is aware of it… but when I met Vishal, I was a little scared, because I didn’t know about his music, but I liked his first song. Liked it a lot.