Holding ground in a profession for 50 years is a huge feat especially when the profession is as tough and competitive as cinema. How many have managed to touch that magical 50 mark? We know that Kamal Haasan has. But, there are some others too, stalwarts of music who have been around for more than half a century; some of them still looking good for more. Let’s take a look at these great artistes who have defied time and given great music to almost 3 different generations.
Lata Mangeshkar -1942
We are talking about 50 years here but this legend is on 70. Yes, 70 years as a singer in the film industry. Many of us would consider it a great achievement to live a healthy life for 70 years and here is someone who has been a professional singer for so long. It has to be one of the great miracles of Indian music that such a singer has been around for so long. It would be flattery to say that her voice has not lost any of its magic down the years – time does catch up with everyone. But, there are certainly some things that only Lata Mangeshkar can do and that is why we will be hearing her in the upcoming Shahrukh Khan starrer directed by Yash Chopra.
Asha Bhosle – 1943
Well, if Lata Mangeshkar is a living miracle Asha Bhosle is nothing less. People who disbelieve the theory that genes determine the talents of a person should take a look at Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhosle: two sisters from the same family sustaining as singers in a ruthlessly competitive industry for almost 70 years – it is more than coincidence. But, putting down their success only to the genes would be a disservice to their commitment and dedication. 70 years – that should take your breath away; literally.
M.S. Viswanathan – 1952
If you want to believe in the adage that “age is just a number”, watch M.S.Viswanathan on television these days. Not once will he give you an idea about how many New Years he has seen; it just doesn’t matter to him. Debuting as composer in 1952, reaching the pinnacle of success in South Indian film music, acting in many films; he has done it all. He acted in films when he was nearly 80 and looking at him on television these days, one feels that he has still more to offer.
S. Janaki – 1957
If it was Lata Mangeshkar in Hindi, then down south it is S. Janaki. Such great achievement cloaked under the most unassuming and simple countenances that you will ever come across. The flexibility of her voice is something that would stump even the most adept mimicry artistes. Some call her the ‘queen of melody’; that is too small a definition for this singer who has sung almost every kind of song that there is.
L.R Easwari – 1958
L.R. Easwari’s debut happened in 1958. For some time now, she had been forgotten, as a singer who had passed on into the sunset. Boy, didn’t she know how to prove us wrong. Come back she did and how! With a song that rocked dance charts, reverberated in theatres and created a roar. Who would have thought that a singer who debuted in the 50s would be able to deliver such a contemporary number with consummate ease? That is testimony to mastery over the voice and music that L.R.Easwari possesses. She’s definitely got a few more hits to deliver.
How can one write lyrics that captivate 3 generations? So much has changed since the time Vaali started penning lyrics for Tamil songs but Vaali remains as effective as ever. His name has to be taken with reverence, because not one lyricist in the country has managed to survive so long (Gulzar is close). From high poetry to the most youthful jaunty numbers he has done almost everything. Even today, when a young film maker wants an absolutely energetic youth number, the first name that comes to mind is Vaali. His thought process remains a wonder – how can a man with a white flowing beard think like a college dude. It’s all in the mind – and Vaali is living proof of that.
K.J. Yesudas – 1962
He recently completed 50 years as a playback singer, a journey that the entire south Indian film industry applauded. Really, one cannot imagine what south Indian film music would have been like without the divine voice this blessed singer. Testimonials to the voice of K.J. Yesudas start to seem redundant because his voice is all pervading. Rather than reading another testimonial to his timeless rendition skills, listen to one of his evergreen melodies and you will know that 50 years was but a destined peak for this unmatched artiste.
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