Throwback: The incredible collaboration between Lata Mangeshkar and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan – Times of India

Milan Luthria who made his directorial debut on February 19, 1999 with Kachche Dhaage revealed a music sense as evolved as the great Raj Khosla.

Raj Khosla’s film of the same name Kachche Dhaage in 1973 had Laxmikant-Pyarelal’s smash-hit songs Hai Hai Ek Ladka Mujhko Khat Likhta Hai, Kachche Dhaage Ke Saath Jisse Bandh Diya Jaye, Mere Bachpan Tu Jaa, Zara Se Agar Bewafa Hum Na Hote and Ja Re Ja Oh Diwane, all sung by Lata Mangeshkar.

Twenty six years later in Milan Luthria’s Kachche Dhaage, Lataji sang for Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan for the first and last time. The song Oopar Khuda Aasman Neeche was originally sung by Nusrat saab himself as an independent song.
Milan wanted the song in his debut film, and he wanted Lataji to sing it. Lataji was nearly 70 when she sang the impossibly high notes of the sublime number. It was recorded on August 15, 1998, a year after Nusrat saab passed away.

In a conversation hours after the recording, she spoke of the impossibly high, masculine notes of Oopar Khuda.

There were a lot of dips and curves in the composition, more suited to Nusrat saab. Lataji had a tough time negotiating the utaar-chadhao at her age. This is not the first time she was asked to sing such high notes. Shankar-Jaikishan did the same in Ehsaan Tera Hoga Mujhpar (Junglee) and Aji Roothkar Abb Kaahaan Jayiyega (Aarzoo) when she was much younger. Both were recorded in the voice of Mohammad Rafi and then force-fitted to accommodate Lataji’s virtuosity.

But just listen to how gracefully Lataji negotiates the steep climbs and falls of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s Oopar Khuda at 70.

She also had the sweet-toned Bandh Lifafa Dil Mera and Dil Pardesi Ho Gaya with Kumar Sanu in Kachche Dhaage. “It was a pleasure to sing Nusrat saab’s compositions. Kaash woh maujood hotey us waqt jab humne unke gaane ko record kiya,” Lataji had said.

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