After the success of Hindi film ANMOL GHADI (1946), Mehboob Khan (film producer and director) decided to pump back the profits earned from the film into his next venture ANDAZ (released in 1949), making it one of India’s costliest productions while casting top actors of that time Dilip Kumar, Raj Kapoor and Nargis in the lead. Naushad Ali was signed on to compose the music, while NoorJahan was taken to sing all Nargis numbers.
But NoorJahan migrated to Pakistan foiling Mehboob Khan’s plans. At around the same time, music director Anil Biswas introduced upcoming playback singer Lata Mangeshkar to Naushad. After listening to her, Naushad was impressed.
He immediately took her to Mehboob Khan, but the filmmaker wasn’t keen on her since he felt she had an overpowering Marathi accent. Naushad was disappointed as he knew Lata had the capabilities to deliver, if he worked her on her accent. Hence to convince Mehboob Khan, Naushad employed a unique idea.
Next day, when the director was busy instructing his assistants on the film set, Naushad deliberately stepped in and started interfering in Mehboob Khan’s work. He began suggesting major changes on the set. The filmmaker got annoyed and fired the composer saying, “Naushad Sahab, aap chup rahiye. Main director hoon aur aapse behtar janta hoon kaunsi cheez kahan honi chahiye. (I am the director and I know my job).”
To this, Naushad, politely reminded Mehboob Khan about the Lata episode, saying, “Janab, jis tarah aap direction mein Ustad hain, usi tarah main sangeet ka parkhi hoon. (Just as you know your direction well, I know my music well). Hence I request you to give Lata Mangeshkar a chance; I know the young singer has great potential.” Finally Mehboob Khan nodded.
Recalling the incident Naushad once said, “Lata had to sing a ghazal ‘Uthaye Ja Unke Sitam Aur Jiye Ja’ which had chaste Urdu words hence Mehboob Sahab was critical, but I took up the challenge. I taught each word of the ghazal to Lata. For one month we rehearsed the song daily, for three hours and more. When she perfected the accent, I fixed the recording.” When they were recording the song, legends of Bollywood Raj Kapoor, Dilip Kumar and Mehboob Khan were present in the studio.
Watching these legends Lata was terrified but Naushad cajoled her to just concentrate on the song, ignoring the artists’ present. She followed the advice and to everybody’s surprise the song was recorded in one take! And what’s more Mehboob Khan was spell bound!!!
Later, Lata became a permanent singer in all Mehboob Khan’s movies.