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Siraj Syed

Siraj Syed is the India Correspondent for and a member of FIPRESCI, the International Federation of Film Critics. He is a Film Festival Correspondent since 1976, Film-critic since 1969 and a Feature-writer since 1970. He is also an acting and dialogue coach. 



IFFI 53, 2022, 05: Lata Mangeshkar, one of a kind

IFFI 53, 2022, 05: Lata Mangeshkar, one of a kind

The 53rd edition of the International Film Festival of India is paying homage to Melody Queen Lata Mangeshkar, who passed away in Mumbai in February this year, aged 92. While the veteran singer’s soulful songs are one too many, thousands, to be sure, each excelling her own huge contribution to Indian cinema and culture, the festival has chosen Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s 1973 musical drama film Abhimaan, to pay tribute to the superlative artiste.

The walk down the memory lane into the soulful 70s of Indian cinema presents a double blessing to Indian and international audiences, both young and old. They will get to connect and reconnect with the traumatic interplay of love, musical ambition and ego, as played out in the lives of the lead characters Subir and Uma, portrayed beautifully by actors Amitabh Bachchan and Jaya Bachchan. What is more, film lovers will get to immerse themselves in this most foundational of life struggles, being soaked in the angelic beauty of the heartrending renditions of iconic songs such as ‘Terey merey milan kee yeh raina”, ‘Teree bindiya rey", ‘Nadiya kinare’, ‘Ab to hae tumsey’ and ‘Lootey koyee man ka’ sung by none other than Lata Mangeshkar, either solo or as duets.

As we pay tribute to the great singer, it would be fitting to recall her message to film-makers and film lovers, at the 33rd edition of IFFI, held in New Delhi in October 2002.

Inaugurating the festival, Lata Mangeshkar called upon film-makers not to forget the rich Indian culture and civilization, to guard against being overtaken by technological advancement. She asked fellow artistes to keep in mind the tireless efforts of the great pioneers of Indian Cinema such as DadaSaheb Phalke and other countless artistes who made enormous sacrifices and worked in most trying circumstances to achieve great heights for the Indian film industry. She reminded IFFI 33 delegates that artists from all parts of India contributed to the development of Indian film industry.

Referring to the great contribution of music to Indian films, Lata Mangeshkar said that music is embedded in every aspect of Indian life and society; it has not only enriched but has also given a unique identity and recognition to Indian films.

Lata Mangeshkar was born on September 28, 1929, to a Marathi and Konkani musician Pandit Deenanath Mangeshkar. Originally named Hema, she was the eldest of five siblings, including veteran singer Asha Bhosle. The other siblings are Meena, Usha and Hridaynath. Her father Pandit Deenanath Mangeshkar was a classical singer and theatre actor.

Lata Mangeshkar recorded her first playback song for a Marathi film, Kiti Hasaal, at the age of 13, and even acted in a Marathi film, Pahili Mangalagaur, in the year 1942. In year 1946, she recorded her first Hindi film playback song for Aap Ki Seva Mein, directed by Vasant Joglekar.

In 1972, Lata Mangeshkar won the first National Award for Best Female Playback Singer for the film Parichay. Over the years, the veteran singer won numerous national and international awards, including the prestigious Bharat Ratna, the title of Officer of the French Legion of Honour, Dadasaheb Phalke Award, three National Film Awards, four Filmfare Best Female Playback Singer Awards, Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award and many more. In 1984, the State Government of Madhya Pradesh instituted the Lata Mangeshkar Award, while the Government of Maharashtra also instituted a Lata Mangeshkar Award in 1992, to promote singing talent.

Below is an interview of Lata Mangeshkar that I conducted in her house in 1984.

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About Siraj Syed

Syed Siraj
(Siraj Associates)

Siraj Syed is a film-critic since 1970 and a Former President of the Freelance Film Journalists' Combine of India.

He is the India Correspondent of and a member of FIPRESCI, the international Federation of Film Critics, Munich, Germany

Siraj Syed has contributed over 1,015 articles on cinema, international film festivals, conventions, exhibitions, etc., most recently, at IFFI (Goa), MIFF (Mumbai), MFF/MAMI (Mumbai) and CommunicAsia (Singapore). He often edits film festival daily bulletins.

He is also an actor and a dubbing artiste. Further, he has been teaching media, acting and dubbing at over 30 institutes in India and Singapore, since 1984.

Bandra West, Mumbai


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