Music: Pandit Hridayanath Mangeshkar
Lyrics: Gulzar
Singers: Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhosle, Pandit Hridayanath Mangeshkar, Satyasheel Deshpande, Suresh Wadekar
Album Released on: August 1991

Perfect bliss! That’s how I would like to describe the album of Lekin. With 8 soundtracks in this purist album, each better than the other, set to perfectly tuned classical gems, it doesn’t get much better than this! The excellent music is no surprise at all … considering that the movie was produced by Lata Mangeshkar, so obviously a lot of emphasis was paid on the music itself. With Gulzar penning the lyrics, and Pandit Hridayanath Mangeshkar at the helm of creating the tunes – could we expect any less? Hridaynath’s tunes have always been extremely classical oriented and seemingly difficult to sing by “ordinary mortals”, should I say? In fact, even Usha Mangeshkar (one of the younger Mangeshkar sisters) had confessed in an interview that she encouraged Hridayanath to give his tunes to Lata/Asha to sing as only they could do justice to it.

The movie itself is set in the enigmatic background of a palace in Rajasthan and about a (*SPOILER ALERT …) soul hung in time, waiting to cross the desert. (Dimple in one of her finest performances). Opening the soundtrack is the awesome “Yara Seeli Seeli” – everything is just perfect about the song! The rendition, the music, the lyrics, the picturization! Goes so well with the theme of a person between this world and the other, Lata ji describes the Birha-Ki-Raat as “Seeli-Seeli”! Listen to her range as she goes “Ye Bhi Koi Jeena Hai … Ye Bhi Koi MarnaThe orchestration is flawless. Is it a surprise then that this won her the 1991 National Film Award for Best Female Playback Singer? The song also won film’s lyricist, Gulzar, both the 1991 National Film Award for Best Lyrics and the 1992 Filmfare Best Lyricist Award.

Nugget: Lata had withdrawn her name from Filmfare Awards for the Best Singer category to give other singers a chance, way back in the 70’s after she won it for “Aap Mujhe Achhe Lagne Lage” from “Jeene Ki Raah”. It was good to see her accept this one.

“Suniyo Ji” is the next Lata Mangeshkar solo, where she is singing for her long-lost father. What can I say about the signing? It seems that Lata-Ji reserved her best for her own movie. The tune is very mellifluous and the lyrics very soulful! Listen to her as she pines for her father … “Bisra diye ho kaahe, bides bhijaay ke, Humka bulay le babul, doliya sajaay ke, Bhejo ji, Bhejo Ji …Doli Uthaane, Chaaron aur kahaar”

Nugget: The exact same tune has been rendered by Lata (“Rone Se Aur Ishq Mein Bebaaq Ho Gaye” in “Lata Sings Ghalib” – a non-filmi album.

In an album dominated by female solos, there is only one male solo, which is rendered by Suresh Wadekar. “Surmai Shaam, Is Tarah Aaye” is a soft romantic ghazal style number . The lyrics depict his dilemma as he has visions of his long lost love, not understanding what the visions mean or why he is having them. Wadekar does a commendable job as usual with the singing.

“Kesariya Balma”, the next Lata solo shows Lata’s command over such numbers. Listen to the utaar-chadhaav of the song as she croons “Rangliyo main aaj ang-ang is rang mein, Tann huaa mann hua kesariya! Chandni hai raat, ab to aa jaa piyaa!”. Based on the folk tunes of Rajasthan, this song is rendered in the background in the movie and compliments the desert perfectly! The song appears again in the album as Kesariya Balma – Part II, but is not much different from this one.

Asha Bhosle – now what is she doing in this predominantly Lata album? I guess Lata-Ji the producer needed a different voice for Hema Malini, who played Dimple’s elder sister in the movie. “Jhoothe Naina Bole” – this classical dance composition (Kathak style) has some great singing by Asha, perhaps to keep up with Didi with all her other numbers, and sure enough she gets all the notes and nuances right! Satyasheel Deshpande opens the song with a small mukhda, and then Asha-Ji takes it from there.

 “Main Ek Sadi Se Baithi Hoon”, back to Lata with this. This is a song of silent suffering and separation where she is waiting for her beloved, as her soul that is still locked in the corridors of history, is waiting for emancipation. Listen to it with a softened heart and an open ear… and you will see something strange happen to you. Good use of percussion in the song. The lyrics are the true star here though … “Din-Raat Ke Donon Pahiye Bhi, Kuchh Dhool Udakar Beet Gaye .. Kuchh Chaand ke Rath To Guzre The, Par Chaand Se Koi Utra Nahin ….. Aakash Badha Boodha Baba, Sabko Kuchh Baant Ke Jaata Hai””. Wah Gulzar-Saab! Only you could have imagined day & night as the wheels, the moon as a chariot and the sky as grandpa!!!

The last tune in the ensemble is “Ja Ja Re”. While all other songs in this album are classical too, this is as classical as filmi-classicals get. (Every once in a while though, we see some of these kind of songs come back …. “Bhor Bhayee” from Delhi-6, “Albela Sajan” from HDDCS etc.). Hridayanath Mangeshkar accompanies his sister in this song. Overall a good classical song (Based on Raag Todi), although I am not surprised  it didn’t get as popular as some of the other filmi classical ones.

If you get the CD of Lekin, you will get 4 more bonus tracks by Lata/Hridayanath on the CD (Mai Ri Neer Bharan, Tera Mera Manwa Kaise, Mohe Naihar Se, Dil Mein Leke Tumhari Yaad Chale (by Bahudarshah Zafar). I am not reviewing them here, but my personal pick from the lot is “Tera Mera Manwa Kaise Ik Hoyi Re”, written by Kabirdas.

Even though this album had other singers on the credit like Asha, Suresh, Satyasheel D – the album purely belonged to Lata. An anecdote to close (to depict the respect that Lata-Ji commanded) .. When Noorjahan visited India she was asked by a press reporter ’When will we see 3 great singers on one stage – Noorjahan from Pak, Lata from India & Surmayee from Bangladesh?’ Noorjahan answered – “Main to kuchh bhi nahi hoon, aaake pair ki jooti hoon; Lekin Lata ka naam kisi aire-gairon ke sath mat lena!’!!!

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