The Other Lata: Suman Kalyanpur and her almost-famous singing career

When ace composer SD Burman made a person of his most sensitive tunes for Majrooh Sultanpuri’s lyrics Na tum humein jaano, na hum tumhe jaano in the Waheeda Rehman-Dev Anand starrer murder thriller-cum-courtroom drama Baat Ek Raat Ki (1962), he needed the expression of poetry in both equally male and the feminine voices. Even though Hemant Kumar sang for Anand, Lata Mangeshkar, a lot of assumed, experienced woven her magic at the time once more with her slender voice, the movement, and the a little bit shrill high pitch which became an aesthetic barometer of Indian female id or the “righteous” heroine of the new India. Even so, the song that was a radio favorite for decades to arrive, was not sung by Mangeshkar. Burman was not speaking to Mangeshkar at the time thanks to an argument about a re-recording in 1958. So he asked a new voice – a reticent singer named Suman Kalyanpur. “When they read the tune, even quite a few Lata acolytes had problems figuring that they had been not listening to Lata while the song performed in their residences,” senior music critic Raju Bharatan had once told this writer.

A handful of yrs later, it wasn’t actually a shock when the well-known Doordarshan clearly show Chhaya Geet attributed Kalyanji-Anandji’s well-known tune, Na na karte pyar kisi se kar baithe, an Aantakshari staple, to Mangeshkar. No a single batted an eyelid, except a 20-calendar year-old female named Charul Hemmady. She known as up the Prasar Bharati workplace and requested them to ratify the error. The woman singer was her mom Suman Kalyanpur. “No one particular thought me. It sounded exactly like Lataji,” claims Hemmady. Aaj kal tere mere pyaar ke charche (Bramhachari, 1969), one particular of her extra popular duets with Rafi, achieved the exact fate. The music nonetheless echo but somehow the encounter was usually consigned to oblivion.

Kalyanpur looks awkward when requested about the similarity in between her voice and Lata’s, but she solutions cautiously. “I was quite motivated by her. In my university times, I employed to sing her songs. Meri aawaaz nazuk aur patli thi (My voice was fragile and slender). Also, when Radio Ceylon relayed the music, the names ended up hardly ever introduced. Even the data occasionally gave the completely wrong title. Perhaps that brought about far more confusion. Shreya Ghoshal’s voice is also skinny, but can individuals go incorrect now? We were living in different times then,” the soft-spoken Kalyanpur, now 85, reported in this interview in her Mumbai property in 2015.

Kalyanpur, in her complete profession, has seldom agreed to giving interviews. Veteran radio artiste Ameen Sayani experienced to chase her for close to 45 a long time prior to he could record a one particular-hour demonstrate with her in 2005. “She spoke so minor. As considerably as I would check out, she answered a good deal of questions in monosyllables,” says Sayani.

Right after recurring requests, she agreed to meet up with us, but with sure ailments. “No photoshoot. Awkward thoughts could not be answered.” We concur.

On the 3rd flooring of her Lokhandwala apartment in Mumbai, following to her daughter’s home, where she lives by itself now, Kalyanpur greets us with a nervous smile. A landscape Kalyanpur painted hangs on the wall. “This is what I do these times. I paint. Cooking is another favourite. Bas issi sab mein din beet jaata hai (The day goes by in all this),” she claims. And what about the riyaaz that playback singers swear by? “Kabhi kabhi gunguna leti hoon kuch (Occasionally I hum a thing). I haven’t been singing for a very extended time,” claims Kalyanpur, who is remembered for being a “shy female whose voice experienced shehed jaisi mithhas (the sweetness of honey)”.

The audio industry of Mumbai in the 1960s moved to a unique defeat. The tunes spawned listed here would go on to make a sound revolution, one that would be later referred to as the golden period of Hindi movie sangeet. This was also the time when the entire world of woman playback singing was dominated by the monopoly of Mangeshkar sisters, extra Lata than Asha (Bhosle). “The to start with 5 positions were occupied by Lata, but Suman, in some way normally sounded like Lata. She was also diligent, sharp and experienced a lovely thin voice. So when Lata was abroad or unavailable, or if the producers could not find the money for her charge of Rs 100 per track, or if the track suffered mainly because of her refusal to sing with Mohammad Rafi in excess of royalty concerns, Suman, the inadequate man’s Lata, was called in. She was not just a great substitute, she was also exceptionally hardworking. If Lata was the Marathi Noorjehan, Suman was the Marathi Lata,” Bharatan had reported.

She also sang two duets with Mangeshkar prior to her possess tracks turned well known. Kabhi aaj kabhi kal in the Balraj Sahni starrer Chand (1959) was a Hemant Kumar composition and “not many can place the difference”. “We had been rather cordial to each and every other and felt like buddies. I often felt that there was a great deal to speak,” states Kalyanpur, going silent for just about a minute. Her daughter is rapid to add, “That’s how you feel. What about her?” Kalyanpur states, “I was invited for Lekin’s premiere and that was the last time I met her,”

Escalating up in a pre-Partition Mumbai, Kalyanpur was the eldest of 5 sisters. The ladies rising up in a conservative household sang simply because they could not participate in exterior. “It was not deemed harmless for girls to undertaking out. Ma and pitaji utilised to adore bhajans. But we have been not authorized to sing exterior the home. I did not have the permission. Singing could be done at house,” suggests Kalyanpur, who finally was asked by some neighbours to sing for Ganpati Mahotsav. But it was her neighbor DB Jog’s Marathi film Shauchi Chandni (1953) that got Kalyanpur within a recording studio. Jog was her father’s mate and permission was granted. The film, nonetheless, under no circumstances took off.

It was at 16, when she was a university student at Sir JJ University of Artwork that iconic singer Talat Mehmood heard her sing at a higher education purpose and “gave shabaashi”. He then set her in touch with the recording business HMV. Irrespective of the equivalents of A & R administrators of now calling her voice “amateurish”, Kalyanpur bagged a track in Darwaaza (1954) and debuted along with Mehmood with the sensitive and melodious Ek dil, do hain talabgaar. The movie was developed by Ismat Chughtai and individuals found. This was adopted by Chhodo chhodo mori baiyaan (Miya Bibi Raazi, 1960), Na tum humein jaano (Baat Ek Raat Ki, 1962), Mere sang ga, gunguna (Janwar, 1965), Aajhuna aaye baalma (Saanjh aur Sa km vera, 1963), Tumne pukaara aur hum chale aaye (Rajkumar, 1964).

“Post Independence, everybody was really energized to do anything. My father also agreed about me singing but accompanied me to each individual recording. It was really conservative at that time as men and women talked rapidly,” claims Kalyanpur, who, just after obtaining married in 1958, was accompanied by her spouse to each individual recording session. “I was married into a joint relatives that experienced 15 users. I was just glad that they had been allowing me to continue. Also, in contrast to other singers, I wasn’t great at negotiating contracts and talking to folks, so that was fully handled by my husband,” claims Kalyanpur.

Marriage introduced its have large and tiny pressures and Kalyanpur turned to the identical sector to come across aid. For starters, she learnt how to make a superior omelette from composer Roshan’s spouse, Ira. “I arrived from a vegetarian family into a non-vegetarian one particular. Who could I ask for assistance? Film marketplace was like relatives and apart from joy that I got singing there, they also aided turn me into a non vegetarian,” says Kalyanpur with a laugh, the very first in the conversation. The bigger sacrifice arrived in phrases of getting selective about the lyrics. “I could not sing cabarets or mujras. I had to be thorough if any household member noticed and stated some thing adverse and hurtful in that orthodox ecosystem,” says Kalyanpur, who by no means attended premieres or socialised with her colleagues.

After inside of the studio, Kalyanpur hardly interacted with her co-singers, despite singing well-known duets, such as with the holy trinity – Talat Mehmood, Mohammad Rafi and Mukesh. “Rafi sahab and Talat sahab ended up very tranquil folks themselves and mainly interacted with my partner. It was Mukeshji who spoke a large amount. He loved telling me tales. I suppose he was incredibly very well-study,” claims Kalyanpur, whose final well-known selection in the market was Behna ne bhai ki kalai pe (Resham Ki Dori) in 1974. She sang about 100 tunes for composer Usha Khanna. She also sang for composer Anu Malik and Bappi Lahiri in the ’80s but before long bowed out of the field in 1986, following singing for virtually 100 films with some of the greatest composers, which includes Naushad, Shankar Jaikishan, Laxmikant Pyarelal, Nashaad among some others. Her last music, which was for the film Love 86, actor Govinda’s debut, was never ever released. “Laxmikant Pyarelal didn’t use her edition. They rerecorded it in Alka Yagnik’s voice,” suggests Charul. She did do an HMV album in 1997, rerecording her aged numbers, but the album did not get a great deal notice.

“The technique was far too a great deal to take care of. I savored wanting just after my relatives and required to be away from all sorts of politics and allow singing just take a backseat,” states Kalyanpur. In her job, she only gained a Filmfare nomination. There was also the Lata Mangeshkar Award by Govt of Maharashtra in 2010. The Padma Bhushan, declared on Wednesday, is a late but substantially deserved recognition for the unsung talent.