"It's just a matter of chance that the girl is so young. And I'm blessed if people like the song."
There seems to be no end to the peaks to conquer for the nightingale. In the last one year, at age 75, she's again being labelled the luckiest mascot of the film industry, thanks to the huge success of three films - "Mughal-e-Azam", "Veer-Zaara" and "Page 3" - featuring her golden voice.
"Yes I know," she laughs. "I sing very selectively now. By god's grace, whichever film I sang for recently has turned into a success. People say I'm the common thread among them. But the common thread is melody.
"Whether it was the late Madan Mohan saab's tunes in 'Veer-'Zaara, Naushad saab's music in 'Mughal-e-Azam' or the young Shamir Tandon's 'Kitne ajeeb rishte hain yahan par' in 'Page 3'... These are all very strong melodies, and I'm blessed to be part of them."
Speaking of "Veer-Zaara", the film's theme of India-Pakistan amity seems to be spilling over into real life with talks of the nightingale visiting our neighboring country.
"I really don't know whether I can go or not. Talks of my going to Pakistan keep surfacing. Then they die down."
Years ago a very prominent Pakistani statesman had been reported as saying: "Give us Lata Mangeshkar and we'll let you keep Kashmir." When reminded of that, she laughs: "Did anyone ask me what I want?"
Another song making people speak of the Mangeshkar magic is "Kaise piya se main kahoon" in "Bewafaa".
Laughs the nightingale: "This was my first song for Kareena Kapoor. I've sung lots of songs for her mother Babita in the 1960s and also Karisma in 'Dil Tho Pagal Hai'...
"I know you think it's quite astonishing. But I've never thought of myself as anything extraordinary."
The living legend grows reflective. "You know, I could've become haughty and arrogant. But I never think of myself as the Bharat Ratna or the nightingale. I can stand outside whatever success I've achieved and look within. I feel all that has happened to me as a professional singer is a blessing bestowed on someone else."
She pauses and continues: "Now I've sung for Nadeem in 'Bewafaa' and with Adnan Sami in 'Lucky'. People are raising their eyebrows about my working with Nadeem with whom I had supposedly sworn never to work. Nothing in life is permanent. I never had any quarrel with Nadeem.
"In fact, contrary to popular belief, I've sung for Nadeem-Shravan earlier in a film called 'Hisaab Khoon Ka'. It was produced by Boney and Anil Kapoor's father Surinder Kapoor. 'Bewafaa' too is produced by the same people. You call it a coincidence or karma. I believe in both."
She then gets amused with the furore over her recording a song for "Lucky" for the T-Series label with which she is supposed to have had a cold war for years.
"First of all, I recorded the song because I've known Adnan Sami for years. I know he's very fond of me, as I'm of him. When he invited me to sing the duet with him in 'Lucky', I was told it was for Salman Khan's home production. T-Series came into the picture much later. Even otherwise, where's the question of a patch-up when there was no fight with T-Series to begin with?"
She continues: "I've never picked a quarrel with anyone in my life. Yes, I love my jokes, and sometimes they've unintentionally hurt others.
"I remember once I had made an off-the-cuff joke about a singer who was being patronised by a leading music composer, to the effect that one thought love was blind but one never knew love was also deaf. Oh god! All hell broke loose...
"I wonder why we people in showbiz can't look at the lighter side of fame, fortune and recognition? As my song in 'Page 3' goes, Kitne ajeeb rishte hain yahan par'..."