Lata Mangeshkar, often referred to as the queen of Indian playback singing, has lent her voice to a number of actresses on screen for more than seven decades now. The legendary singer, who turned 86 on Monday, has been an inspiration to millions across the world.
Famously known as ‘Lata Didi’ in the Bollywood music fraternity, Mangeshkar was born in a Marathi-speaking family in Indore to classical singer and theatre actor Pandit Deenanath Mangeshkar and his wife Shevanti, a homemaker. A family of gifted musicians and singers, the Mangeshkar household saw several greats apart from Lata and Pandit Mangeshkar. Lata’s other three sisters — Asha Bhosle, Usha Mangeshkar and Meena Mangeshkar — and brother Hridaynath Mangeshkar have all been renowned artists.
In a career of seven decades so far, Lata Mangeshkar has sung for over 1,000 films in as many as 36 languages. From Madhubala to Meena Kumari, Nutan to Tanuja, Vyjantimala to Asha Parekh, Hema Malini to Rekha, Sridevi to Madhuri Dixit, Karishma Kapoor to Kareena Kapoor, she has lent her mesmerising voice to several generations of Indian screen divas.
On Lata Mangeshkar’s birthday, Business Standard looks at 15 rare facts about the life and career of the veteran singer.
1. Took up singing under duress
After the death of her father due to a heart disease in 1942, a 13-year-old Lata was forced to become the family’s breadwinner. She took up singing and acting to make ends meet.
2. The first break
She sang her first song, Naachu Yaa Gade, Khelu Saari Mani Haus Bhaari, for Vasant Joglekar's Marathi movie Kiti Hasaal (1942). Sadly, the song was dropped from the final cut of the movie. However, she was offered a small role in Navyug Chitrapat’s Marathi movie Pahili Mangalaagaur (1942), in which she sang the song Natali Chaitraachi Navalaai.
3. The gurus
She took Indian classical music lessons from Ustad Amanat Ali Khan but later started training under Amanat Khan Devaswale after her former teacher migrated to the newly formed Pakistan after partition. She also trained under Pandit Tulsidas Sharma, who was a pupil of Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan.
4. Major breakthrough
She got her first major break with the song Dil Mera Toda in the movie Majboor (1948) but her first major hit was Aayega Aanewaala, sung for Madhubala in the movie Mahal (1949).
5. Acclaim as a singer
During the 1950s, Lata carved a niche for herself as an acclaimed singer in the Hindi film industry and her career took off. During this phase, she collaborated with successful composers like S D Burman, Naushad Ali, Salil Chowdhury and Madan Mohan, and sang for movies like Baiju Bawra (1952), Shree 420 (1955) and Devdas (1955).
6. First Filmfare award
She won a Filmfare award as the best female playback singer for the song Aaja Re Pardesi for the movie Madhumati (1958).
7. Conflict with S D Burman
In the 1950s, Lata had a rift with S D Burman and the two didn’t come together for any project until the year 1962.
8. Broke Nehru into tears
On the Republic Day of 1963, two months after the Indo-China war had ended, Lata brought tears to the eyes of the then prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru as she sang Aye Mere Watan ke Logon, as a tribute to the deceased soldiers.
9. Famous hits
She later sang for R D Burman in Bhoot Bangla (1965) and Pati Patni (1966). She also recorded several popular songs like Aaj Phir Jeene Ki Tamanna Hai, Gata Rahe Mera Dil for the film Guide, and Hothon Pe Aisi Baat for S D Burman for Jewel Thief.
During this period, Lata recorded duets with Manna Dey, Mohammed Rafi, Kishore Kumar and bagged her second Filmfare award for Kahin Deep Jale Kahin Dil for the movie Bees Saal Baad (1962).
10. The Pakeezah connection
In the 1970s, Lata sang Chalte Chalte and Inhi Logon Ne for Meena Kumari's last film Pakeezah. These two songs are considered among the most loved Indian music classics.
11. First national award
She recorded many famous songs for R D Burman, but the highlight of the period was the song Beeti Na Bitai Raina in Parichay, for Jaya Bachchan and Sanjeev Kumar. Lata won the National Film Award for Best Female Playback Singer for this song in 1973.
12. Production venture
In the year 1990, Lata launched her own production house and produced Gulzar’s movie Lekin (1990). For this film, she sang her third National Film Award as best female playback singer. This was for the song Yaara Seeli Seeli. The song was composed by her younger brother Hridaynath.
She has sung with almost every chart-topping in Bollywood — like Sonu Nigam to S P Balasubrahmanyam, Udit Narayan, Hariharan, Kumar Sanu, Abhijeet Bhattacharya, Roop Kumar Rathod and Gurdas Maan.
13. When her star shone brighter
At the turn of the millennium, Lata had one of the best phases of her career with some of her biggest hits in quick succession. Among them were songs in Pukar (2000), Mohabbatein (2000), Zubeidaa (2001), Lagaan (2001) and Rang De Basanti (2006).
14. Recognition and awards
Lata has multiple received awards and honours, including the Padma Bhushan (1969), Padma Vibhushan (1999), Dada Saheb Phalke Award (1989), NTR National Award (1999), Bharat Ratna (2001), which is India's highest civilian award, and Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award (1993)
15. Part of the Guinness Book of Records
In the year 1974, the Guinness Book of Records listed Lata Mangeshkar as the most recorded artist in history. This was contested by Mohammed Rafi, who claimed he had sung more songs than her. However, in the year 2011, Lata’s sister Asha Bhosle was officially acknowledged as the most recorded artist in music history by the Guinness Book.
Prominent personalities including Prime Minister Narendra Modi took the help of micro blogging website Twitter to convey their warm wishes to the Nightingale of India.
Warm birthday greetings to Lata Didi. I wish her good health & joy. @mangeshkarlata— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) September 28, 2015
— Mamata Banerjee (@MamataOfficial) September 28, 2015
Heartiest greetings to @mangeshkarlata on her birthday. Wishing Lataji good health and happiness
Happy Birthday Lata ji !!! Happy Birthday to Voice of Eternal Youth and Divinity!! Our Greatest Pride!!@latamangeshkar
— shaan (@singer_shaan) September 28, 2015
September 28, 2015
Wishing you a very happy birthday @mangeshkarlata ji. May God bless you with happiness, good health and longevity.
— Ashok Gehlot (@ashokgehlot51) September 28, 2015