Childhood memories are mostly of music, singing, learning by heart lyrics of Lata Mangeshkar’s film songs, listening to my father’s soulful singing, with his eyes shut, holding his tanpura close, blisfully unaware of his surroundings, of his rendering Hindustani ragas, khayals, bhajans, thumris…Dad i remember those days even more now than ever as i age.
I would sit there mesmerized and listen to him for hours. It was as if he were one with God and when he finished singing, it was as if his eyes were finding it difficult to get used to the light and his surroundings. He was a very good tabla player too. He would keep rhythm when i sang my kind of songs like Hindi film music and his favorite bhajans.
My first impression of music at age 5 was Hindi film music, my world was only Lata Mangeshkar. Her voice was nectar. I would strain to listen to her songs on Binaca Geet Mala from outside any house in our neighborhood which had a radio then. Such was the infatuation that i would dream of working in her house just to be with her and keep hearing her sweet voice! . The earliest Lata songs i recollect singing or rather imitating were:
‘Pankh hoti toh udh aati re’ from the film Kohra,
‘Ma, mujhe apne aanchal mein chupaa le, galey se lagaa le’ from Chota Bahi,
‘Yai maa teri soorat se alag, bhagwan ki soorat kya hogi’ from Daadi Ma and
‘Tumhi ho maata pita tumhi ho’ from Mein Chup Rahungi
Once my aunt, who worked as a teacher in Little Flower High School, Hyderabad, took me to her school for an Annual Day function where i sang a few songs on stage. I must have been 7 or 8 years old then. Later the Rector/Principal invited me also to join in the party for all the teachers. They formed two groups and began out-singing each other. I remember, i sang the ‘Yai maa teri soorat se alag, bhagwan ki soorat kya hogi’ from Daadi Ma and got a standing ovation and our group was declared winners. I remember the Rector’s gift of a huge bag full of chocolates!