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By Bollywood’s recording studios have generally been impeccably ‘clean’. But not without some tonal variations. By Anil Grover in Mangeshkar
  • Published 28.04.06

Lata Mangeshkar: The simple as simple can be, the Nightingale of India, is a bright example of the many sacrifices, personal and professional, she has made from childhood upwards. As spartan in her lifestyle (barring her die-hard love for diamonds), she is known not to even touch the cup that cheers (tea, that is) and according to her personal faith, has remained celibate all her life. But her love for cricket is also well known. And so for that cricket diamond, Raj Singh Dungarpur, which remained very hush-hush and a very cheeky single, to use a cricketing phrase, all these decades, and is only now a poorly run secret.

Kishor Kumar: The original eccentric genius. Had so many stories, tales, myths, real anecdotes about his madcap ways. First married to Ruma Guhathakurta with whom he split and in a lightning marriage, tied the knot with everyone’s darling, Madhubala. She died of a debilitating disease soon after, and then he had a runaway marriage with Yogeeta Bali. And another runaway marriage with Leena Chandavarkar who was almost the same age as son Amit!

Suraiya: With Noor Jahan and then Suraiya leading the star-singer pack, there was also a touch (a rather heavy touch, we admit) of tinsel glamour. Suraiya was known to be dressed like a Christmas tree too and if she were a male would have been a bejewelled role model to Bappi Lahiri. She sang her way into the bobbing tilting head of Dev Anand, the dashing (married) loverboy of those days, who could never get her out of his heart, either. And she? She swore she would never marry another, and remained single.

Sharda: The strange voice, who was pushed into the limelight, and shoved down the ears of the listening public. She also went on to win the best singer Filmfare Award (Titli udi, in Suraj), but later years revealed how Shankar-Jaikishan and Manoj Kumar would do scientific rigging of the public polls. But Sharda not only alienated Lata Mangeshkar from the S-J camp, she also broke away the hyphen from between the great music director duo, ringing her voice around Shankar, poor sod.

Asha Bhosle: The more maverick younger sister of Didi, whose first marriage broke up traumatically. But in sharp contrast to the devotional-voiced Didi’s lifestyle, Asha was always the ‘rebel’ voice who would pick up ‘cabaret numbers’ in style; in reverse swing, so to say, she was yesterday’s Sunidhi Chauhan. But fond of the ‘good life’, she also had a long-standing alliance with O.P. Nayyar, after which Rahul Dev Burman came on the scene.

Kumar sanu: The ‘Eh-heeeyyyy’ guy who came as a Kishore Kumar clone and really stayed on. To the extent of spawning Kumar Sanu clones, bless his soul, the most eminent self-acknowledged one being Babul Supriyo.He set up a record of maximum number of recordings in a day (28), made himself famous for introducing heavy-duty politics in Bollywood recording studios (at least, that was the accusation), making a duet of himself with Alka Yagnik and having female fans falling all over him. Also, lots of riches, properties and wifely skirmishes.

Sonu Nigam: Quite a ladies’ man, and the ladies’ mothers’ man, too considering his cute-cute, chocolate charm (facial, that is). Tried his hand at acting, too, but quickly withdrew. Tried his hand at marriage, too, with a Calcutta girl, one of his ardent fans of his singing if we are to believe these things, but soon after sounds of marital spats reached eager-beaver ears. But they were together. Then they split momentarily. Then truce again. Grapevine has it that his open brawling with Babul Supriyo wasn’t just about vocal rivalry.

Babul Supriyo: Kumar Sanu proudly claimed to be a Kishore Kumar clone, at a time when most aspiring Indian idols were either clones of Mohd Rafi or Kishore Kumar or then Mukesh. But Babul Supriyo proudly claimed, down the (y)ears, that he was a Kumar Sanu clone. Like nowadays Indian Idols proudly claim to be Sonu Nigam clones (the best and most versatile Rafi clone) and Agla Kaun contestants claim to be Abhijeet Sawant clones! But suddenly this outbreak between this Sanu clone with the Rafi clone, Sonu, why? Babul played the goody-two shoes guys who professed to know not what hit him when Sonu gave him some high-pitched tongue-lashing, complete with some background music, but maybe, just maybe, did his eyes stray to the neighbour’s house...?

Sulakshana Pandit: The chubby, chitti-gori singer who the world thought was beautiful enough to also appear on the big screen. She did, and began thinking of herself as the next generation Suraiya (her gaudy makeup and chakmak chandelier look did match Suraiya, but her voice was a far, far cry from Lata Mangeshkar (whom she thought she could even displace with her ‘good-looking’ voice! With top heroes ‘casting’ glad-eye looks at her, she began to think very seriously, and dangerously seriously, with considerable help especially from Sanjeev Kumar, that she was IT. She soon became only Was, in acting as well as singing. Tu hi saagar, tu hi kinaara,/Dhoondta hai tu kis ka sahaara...

Sunali Rathod: Originally, till her recent glam makeover, she was Sonali Rathod. More originally, she was Sonali Jalota, wife of Bhajan Samrat Anup Jalota. The bhajan guy, most famous for Kaisi laagi lagan,/Meera ho gayee magan, also had a tablanawaz in his troupe, Roopkumar Rathod. And the Meera in the house went progressively magan at the tabla beats, till the heartbeats resounded more eloquently then the vocals.

Anuradha Paudwal: Here was a charming matronly sweet Lata clone, with a voice as reed-thin as a body just as well-fed. Lata has had other sweet-throated clones, too, the most honey-voiced one being Suman Kalyanpur. She soon became in-house with the meteorically rising T-Series, and logically and logistically, came very much closer to Gulshan Kumar, the juice seller in Delhi who went on to become a T-Series revolution, including the audio cassette tape churner. After the death of her husband years ago, and ‘adoption’ of her daughter Kiran (who dabbled in pop albums and recently in sexy starlet roles) into the Kumar fold, she became Bossini, and after the murder of Gulshan Kumar, too, she is the main money spinner of T-Series as the presiding deity of their phenomenally selling religious cassettes.

Alisha: He courted trouble with the Alisha Chinai number, Sexy sexy sexy mujhe log bolen, and the word ‘sexy’ had to be replaced by ‘baby’. The hot music director-sexy ‘babydoll’ singer pair burned the charts quite some, till singer suddenly upped and cried wolf. She accused Anu Malik of sexual harassment, sank into oblivion, and has recently come back into her own, making her comeback with the same wolf, Anu Malik himself. And storming through Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy’s Kajra re. Last seen, by no one in particular, Anu was banging on his car bonnet trying out a tune to fit, Haaye re!

OTHERS: Sudha Malhotra who was entangled with Sahir Ludhianvi, Sunidhi Chauhan who was kind of cradle-snatched by music video director Bobby Khan. In between were Meena Kapoor who lived in with Anil Biswas, Hemlata who was Ravindra Jain’s muse, and the disc plays on...