Lata and Shankar Jaikishan.
Lata Mangeshkar had dominated bollywood film music for over 50 years, so obviously had good relationship with lot of composers. But her relationship with Shankar Jaikishan was very special because they are musical duo who had provided her the number one spot during her days of struggle. In Barsaat, in 1949, the two songs “hawa me urta jaye” and “jiya beqarar hai” had marked the beginning of success of Lata and she never had to look back. In Awara, 1951, all the songs composed by SJ and sung by Lata including “ghar aya mere pardesi”, “dham bhar jo udhar muh fere”, etc. were superduper hits. Similarly in Aah, “rajaki ayegi baraat”, “ aja re” sung by Lata and composed by SJ were evergreen hits.
On one hand SJ had provided romantic tunes to Lata like “aja sanam”, “yeh raat bheegi bheegi” etc., which were duets with Manna Dey, on the other hand there pure classical compositions like “aji ruth kar ab”, “bedardi baalma”, etc. from Aarzoo, picturised on Sadhna. SJ had utilised Lata’s range in songs like “woh basanti pavan pawan”, “hum tere pyar me sara alam”, “rasik balma”, picturised on Padmini, Meena Kumari, Nargis, respectively.
When Shankar Jaikishan composed songs for films shot at foreign locations, Lata did sing westernised songs and there too she was brilliant like “hume tum mil gaye humdum”, “o mere shahe khuba”, etc. picturised on Asha Parekh from the film Love In Tokyo. At the same time the song “o mere sanam” picturised on Vaijayantimala in Raj Kapoor’s Sangam, 1964, was very unique.
SJ was probably the most liberal composer of his times and for doing justice to Lata, they did not do injustice to other singers like “mur murk e na dekh” given to Asha, “dil use do jo jaan de de” to Suman Kalyanpur, “titli uri” to Sharda, etc. Yet their compositions for Lata were unforgettable due to stylish orchestration and east-west blend of music like “sayonara” from Love In Tokyo, “gumnam hai koi” from Gumnam. People sometimes have an erroneous perception that just because SJ tunes were popular they lacked in the same amount of quality which Roshan, Khayyam, Madanmohan, Naushad, had in their compositions. If a tune is popular like “ramaiya vasta maiya” based on folk tune, sung separately, by Lata, Rafi and Mukesh, it is not necessary that there is no quality in the tune. Besides, while making the tunes popular, they did not compromise on quality, for example the songs of Lata in the film Junglee, like “Kashmir ki kali hun mai”, “mere yaar shabba khair”, “ehsaan tera hoga mujhpar”, picturised on Saira Banu, were popular and had musical value embedded in them. Even in the duet songs of Lata and Rafi, like “awaaz deke hume tum bulayo”, “sau saal pehle”, “o sanam tere ho gaye hum”, etc., SJ either had instilled classical ragas or did experiment with the orchestration. The death of Jaikishan in 1971, had been the greatest blow to Indian film music, because had the duo survived for another 15 years, they could have provided everlasting tunes and experimented with Lata.