The year is 1977, and India is swaying to Usha Mangeshkar's peppy number "Mungda". Cut to 2019, and the song is remixed and has garnered criticism from the youngest Mangeshkar sisters. However, she also upholds that while nothing can match original music, remixes are not a threat to the authenticity.
Mangeshkar, 83, who entered playback singing a few years after her elder sisters Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhonsle, was recently in the capital for the 9th edition of Celebrating North East festival, organised by the North East Institute of Fashion Technology (NEIFT).
Edited excerpts from an interview with Usha Mangeshkar:
1. You have spoken strongly against remixing songs. Is originality taking a back seat in Bollywood?
Remixes have been getting a lot of attention these days and I acknowledge that even though it might take a lot of courage to pick an original and work on it to the extent where it is appreciated by the audience, the vibe of authenticity of an original music is distinct from all. I feel I personally am inclined towards original music, however, that doesn't make remixes a threat to authenticity.
2. What do you think about the Bollywood music scenario? Do you think anything needs to change?
If there is anything constant in any industry, it is change. The music industry is adapting to the growing needs of its audience and embracing the modish inclinations of the youth. The people in the music industry are self-sufficient to improvise or generate variations in music and I am very confident about them taking a lead to produce impacting music for the music enthusiast.
3. It has been a long journey for you in playback singing. What have been your most memorable moments?
Playback singing is more like a meditation for me than a profession. It comes so naturally, that I am not sure I have had a particular memorable moment in my journey, rather, I believe, every day, every moment spent singing has been a memorable one for me. In the ‘Celebrating North East' festival, I especially recalled all the unforgettable moments spent with Bhupen (Hazarika) Da in Assam.
4. How do you look at the work of your sisters, Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhonsle?
They have been a guiding force, indeed. Both of my sisters have inspired me to be a better version of myself and not only as an individual but as a singer as well. I'll always carry a lot of gratitude and love for them in my heart.
5. How helpful was their success for your entry to the playback singing?
I have never compared my success or my music with anybody. Yes, I am privileged to be born in the family of successful singers, indeed. But I believe, I have paved on my own way through it all. My path has been led by music and music alone. Shrunk opportunities have never been a question.
6. How do your days look like now?
I feel I have seen some of the best days of my life. When one starts inhaling sunshine and positivity, life turns a lot better and brighter and I'm thankful for them.