Lata didi used to say, a song comes alive when singer feels the words: Shashika
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Lata didi used to say, a song comes alive when singer feels the words: Shashika

I understood what the calling in didi’s voice was - that music is a ‘sadhana’

Lata didi used to say, a song comes alive when singer feels the words: Shashika

New Delhi: “Lata Mangeshkar Ji is my inspiration and mentor from childhood when I started singing in South Africa. I grew up listening to her songs and trying to sing them best I could, despite Hindi and Urdu not being our spoken language; we lacked the facility for music training in South Africa and didi’s songs were my lessons. But gradually it became apparent to me that there was a ‘calling’ in her voice, that I needed to find in my voice. My desire to visit India and pursue music became stronger and stronger,” said Shashika Mooruth, a South Africa based globally renowned singer. She recently returned to Mumbai.

Sharing her fond memories of Lata Mangeshkar exclusively with CitySpidey, Shashika said, “Her attitude to the art in all aspects drove me to pursue the same, so I started to learn the language and train in classical music. Gradually I understood what the calling in didi’s voice was……that music is a ‘sadhana’ and entertainment is secondary – if not at all. Didi awakened my soul to music.
I began to listen to didi’s songs and sing them even more with the understanding that her every nuances were from the spiritual world.”

She reminisces, “I lived in Peddar Road as a paying guest for a few years during my music training and once I had the opportunity to visit Prabhu Kunj for some work with Usha ji Mangeshkar. I was sitting in the lounge waiting for Usha ji when a door leading into the lounge opened and out peeped Lataji!”

“There was no one else in the room just didi and myself and I was too transfixed to say or do anything. I could have spoken or asked for a photo or autograph but that would seem rude and intruding especially as I had not gone there to meet Didi on appointment. I am happy I didn’t as I would have lost the transcendental experience. The experience was one of having a darshan in a mandir. Didi looked about the room probably looking for someone and then saw me,” she added.

She further said, “I put my palms together and she returned the gesture and smiled. For me this was the most divine moment… verbal communication, no autograph, no photos, just a simple and divine exchange during which I felt her effulgence and divine music fill my soul. Didi then went back into the room. I often think of that moment; I was meant to have darshan of a goddess in music and Krishna Bhagwan arranged it so.”

“In 2011 I had the desire to record some of Lataji songs for my own growth and I booked a studio in Mhada only to realise that it was Swarlata Studio that belonged to didi. I had no idea……such is the divine way. It was only during the recording that seeing the beautiful frames of Lataji in the reception that I inquired and learned it was didi’s studio.”

“Later my own production Krishna the Flute Player was recorded at LM Studio in 2016 and again I felt it a blessing to be around Didi’s energy. There will never be another Lataji,,,I sing didi’s songs for my learning and growth and will continue to work on my singing based on her advice and the example didi set,” Shashika said.

Remembering “Swar Kokila Bharat Ratna” Lata didi Mangeshkar on her first punyatithi, I pulled out my notes on her advice. I think one of the best ways to celebrate didi is to follow her advice.

1. Remain a shishya all your life. Didi said she was always a learner. At every instant she aimed to better herself.

2. Train in classical and practice daily riyaz in the morning. There is no better way to hone your skills.

3. Diction. Didi regretted that not much attention is paid to diction nowadays. “A song comes alive when the singer feels the words and the only way you can feel the lyrics is to know them in and out,” she said.

4. Be original and find your own path. Running after instant fame, singing re-mixes is not the way. By all means sing the songs of others but learn to make your own. In that you will find your voice.

5. Continue to work honestly. Success and failure can be both toxic. Count your blessings.