Lata Her Own Voice: Conversations with Nasreen Munni KabirLata Her Own Voice: Conversations with Nasreen Munni Kabir by Kabir Munni Nasreen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Lata Mangheskar – in her own voice
Conversations with Nasreen Munni Kabir

What an absolutely beautiful book!!

It is one of the most enjoyable ‘coffee-table’ books that I have ever read or seen. To relegate it to the level of ‘coffee-table’ books would be doing it an injustice – because it has some amazing photographs that I have seen, and it brings one of our most famous icons closer to us. The black and white image of a very young Lataji on the cove, sets the tone for a memorable book.

Nasreen Munni Kabir did a six-part documentary series on Lata Mangheskar in 1991 for Channel 4, titled ‘In Her Own Voice’. In 2008, she began to update the conversations she had with Lataji and convert them into a book.

Lataji is one of the most reclusive of Indian icons. She leads a sheltered life and rarely do we see her in film magazines, nor has her life been enmeshed in any scandal at any point. Hence, it is always a pleasure to read about her, specially stories written by people who have spent a good amount of time with her, and who have had the rare privilege of being able to interview her many hours.

The book is a series of conversations with her, covering almost all aspects of her life. Ms. Kabir, in her introduction talks about her phenomenal memory, and her knowledge about all her colleagues in the music industry. Here is a woman who has had no formal schooling whatsoever, but who has sung more than 27,000 songs in many Indian languages.

At one point the author says –
‘Lata Mangheskar’s songs are living history – so strongly tied to all our life stories and articulating our many emotions ‘

Lataji while talking about the difference between Western and Indian music says :
‘I like both traditions. I listen to Western classical music to hear how well it is composed and I listen to Indian classical to hear how well it is sung or how well it is played on say the sitar or sarod’

There are a lot of pictures which cover the many years of her life. One picture that I really enjoyed looking at was with Raj Kapoor, Dev Anand and Dilip Kumar in the late 1950s. Those were the legends of their time – and what a great occasion that must have been.

Buy this book, read it whenever you think of music and of the Indian film industry. Legends like her illuminate our lives very rarely and we are fortunate to be able to hear her, and read about her.

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