Lata Mangeshkar Biography, Voice of the Nation, Queen of Melody, Nightingale of India, Voice of the Millennium
Feeling honored to write the biography of one of the best and respected playback singers and music directors of India, Lata Mangeshkar. She has recorded songs in more than a thousand Hindi films.
It even has sung songs in thirty-six Indian regional languages and foreign languages, primarily in Hindi, Marathi, and Bengali. That is why she is known as the queen of melody, the voice of the nation, the voice of millennium, and the nightingale of India.
She was honored by Padma Bhushan award in 1069. She was awarded by Dadasaheb Phalke Award in 1989 by the Government of India. Padma Vibhushan was given to her in 1999.
After that in 2001, in recognition of her contribution to the nation she awarded by Bharat Ratna. Bharat Ratna is India’s highest civilian award; she is the second vocalist to achieve this award after M.S.Shubbulaksmi.
She became the first Indian singer to perform in the Royal Albert Hall in 1974. Even she is the recipient of three National Film Awards, 15 Bengal Film Journalists’ Association Award, Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award, two Filmfare Special Awards, four Filmfare Best Female Playback Awards, and many more.
Early Life of Lata Mangeshkar
Lata Mangeshkar was born on 28th September 1929 in Indore, Madhya Pradesh. She was the eldest daughter of Pandit Deenanath Mangeshkar. He was a Marathi and Konkani musician.
Her mother’s name was Shevanti. Her father was a classical singer and theatre actor. Her mother Sheventi-later renamed Shudhamati was a Marathi woman.
She was the second wife of Deenanath. His first wife the Narmada was Shevanti’s elder sister. Her paternal grandfather Ganesh Bhatt Navathe Hardikar was a Karhade Brahmin Priest and her paternal grandmother was Yesubai Rane from Goa.
Her maternal grandfather was a Gujarati businessperson named Sheth Haridas Ramdas Lad. She learned folk songs such as Garbas of Pavaghdh from her maternal grandmother.
She has four siblings named Meena, Asha, Usha, and Hridaynath. Originally, their family last name used to be Hardikar, but her father changed it to Mangeshkar in order to identify his family with the native town, Mangeshi in Goa.
Lata was named “Hema” at her birth. Her parents’ later renamed her Lata after a female character, Latika in one of her father’s plat named BhaawBandhan.
Her father was her first tutor. At the age of five, she started work as an actress in her father’s musical play. She left the school on the first day because the did not allow her to bring Asha with her. As she often, bring her sister with her.
Early Career in 1940s: Lata Mangeshkar old song
In 1942, when Lata was only 13-year oil her father died of v. His father’s close friend master Vinayak took care of them. He was the owner of the Navyug Chitrapat Movie Company. He helped Lata to start her career as a singer and actress.
He gave her a small roll in Navyug Chitrapat’s Marathi movie Pahili Mangalaa-gaur (1942), in that movie she sang “Natali Chaitraachi Navalaai” which was composed by Dada Chandekar. Her first Hindi song was from Marathi film.
The film’s name was Gajaabhaau. Moreover, the song was “Mata Ek Sapoot Ki Duniya Badal De Tu”. As master Vinayak’s company shifted headquarter to Mumbai, Lata also shifted in 1945.
She started to learn Hindustani classical music from Ustad Aman Ali Khan of Bhindibazaar Gharana. Lata sang “Paa Lagoon Kar Jori” for Vasant Joglekar’s Hindi movie “Aap Ki Seve Main” in 1946.
Lata and Asha played minor roles in Vinayak’s first Hindi movie “Badi Maa” in 1945 at the same time Lata sang a bhajan in that movie. That was “Mata Tere Charnon Main”.
In 1948 after Vinayak’s death music director Ghulam Haider mentored her as a singer. He introduced her to producer Sashadhar Mukherjee, but Mukherjee felt Lata’s voice “too thin”.
So he dismissed her. In 1948 Haider gave Lata her first break for the song “Dil Mera Toda, Mujhe Kahin Ka Na Chhoda”. It was lyrics by Nazim Panipati in the movie Majboor.
It became her first breakthrough film hit. On her 84th birthday, Lata herself declared that Ghulam Haider was her Godfather. One of her first major hits was “Aayega Aanewala” from the movie “Mahal”. It was composed by music director Khemchand Prakash and lip-synced on screen by actress Madhubala.
During the 1950s, Lata sang many songs composed by various music directors. Few of them are;
- Anil Bishwas ( Tarana 1951, Heer 1956),
- Shankar Jaikishan, Naushad Ali, S.D.Burman, Amarnath, Husanlal, and Bhagatram (Bari Behan 1949, Meena Bazaar 1950, Chhoti Bhabhi 1950, Afsana 1951, Aansoo 1953, and Adl-e-Jehangir 1955)
- C.Ramchandra, Hemant Kumar, Salil Chowdhury, Datta Naik, Khayyam, Ravi, Sajjad Hussain, Roshan, Kalyanji-Anandji, Vasant Desai, Sudhir Phadke, Hansraj Behl, Madan Mohan, and Usha Khanna.
She sang “Sri Lanka, Ma Priyadara Jaya Bhumi”, a song in Sinhala, for the 1955 Sri Lankan film Seda Suhag. She made her debut in Tamil playback singing with “Vanaradham” in 1956 (Uran Khotala dubbed in Tamil) with Tamil song: Enthan Kannalan” for Nimmi in the dubbed version composed by Naushad.
She sang much raga-based song for Naushad in movies such as Deedar (1951), Baiju Bawra (1952), Amar (1954), Uran Khatola (1955) and Mother India (1957).
Ae Chorre Ki Jaat Badi Bewafa, a duet with G.M. Durrani was her first song for the composer, Naushad. Shankar-Jaykishan chose Lata for Barsat (1949), Aah (1953), Shree 420 (1944), and Chori Chori (1956).
Even composer S.D.Burman chose her as the leading female singer for his musical scores in Sazaa (1951), House No.44 (1955) and Devdas (1955).
Lata won Filmfare award for Best Female Playback Singer for “Aaja Re Pardesi” from Madhumati (1958). She sang for C.Ramchandra for movies such as Albela (1951), Shin Shinkai Bublaa Boo (1952), Anarkali (1953), Pehli Jhhalak (1954), Aazad (1955) Aasha (1957) and Amardeep (1958).
For Madan Mohan, she performed for movies like Baagi (1953), Railway Platform (1955), Adalat (1958), Jailor (1958), and many more.
Lata’s song ”Pyar Kiya To Darna Kya” from Mughl-e-Azam (1960) still remains famous. Shankar Jaikishan composed “Ajeeb Dastan Hai Yeh” from Dil Apna Aur Preet Parayi (1960).
In 1961 she recorded two popular Bhajans “Allah Tero Naam” and “Prabhu Tero Naam” for Burman’s assistant Jaidev. In 1962 for the second time she was awarded for Filmfare award for the song “Kahin Deep Jale Kahin Dil” from Bees Saal Baad, Hemant Kumar composed it.
In early 1962, Lata was given slow poison and because of that she bedridden for nearly three months. At that time Bollywood lyricist Majrooh Sultanpuri used to visit Lata at her home daily at 6 pm. He used to first taste the food and then Lata was allowed to eat.
On 27th January 1963, against the backdrop of the Sino-Indian war, Lata sang “Aye Mere Watan Ke Logo” in the presence of Jawaharlal Nehru, the Prime Minister of India. The song, composed by C.Ramchandra and written by Kavi Pradeep, it brought the Prime Minister to tears.
In 1963, Lata returned to collaboration with S.D.Burman. She also sang for R.D.Burman. Some of her films with R.D.Burman were Chhote Nawab, Bhoot Bangla (1965), Pati Patni(1966), Baharon Ke Sapne(1967), and Abhilasha (1969).
For S.D.Burman, she recorded many songs. Some of them are “Aaj Phir Jeene Ki Tammana Hai”, “Gata Rahe Mera Dil”, “Piya To Se”, “Hothon Pe Aisi Baat” and “Bekhudi Mein Sanam” etc.
During 1966, for Madan Mohan, she sang songs like “Aap Ki Nazron Ne Samja”, “Lag Ja Gale”, “Naina Barse Rim Jhim”, “Tu Jahan Jahan Chalega” etc.
In the 1960s, she associated with Laxmikant-Pyarelal. She sang some most popular songs of her career with them. She sang over 700 songs for them over a long period of 35 years.
She sang for “Parasmani”, “Mr. X in Bombay”, “Aaye Din Bahar Ke”, “Milan”, “Anita”, “Shagird”, “Mere Hamdam Mere Dost”, “Intaquaam”, “Do Raste” and “Jeene Ki Raah” for which she got her third Filmfare award.
She also sang many songs for Marathi films. Marathi music directors including Hridaynath Mangeshkar, Vasant Prabhu, Srinivas Khale, Sudhir Phadke, and herself under the name of Anandghan, composed them.
During the 1960s and 1970s, she sang several Bengali songs. Lakshman Berlekar composed them. The song “Bellane Belagayithu” was well received and appreciated.
She recorded duets with Mukesh, Manna Dey, Mahendra Kapoor, Mohammed Rafi and Kishor Kumar during this period.
Lata sang “Chalte Chalte” and “Inhi Logo Ne” for Meena kumari’s last film Pakeezah in 1972. She recorded many songs for S. D. Burman’s last films, including “Rangeela Re” from “Prem Pujari”, “Khilte Hain Gul Yahaan” from Sharmeelee and “Piya Bina” from Abhimaan.
For Madan Mohan, she recorded for “Dastak”, “Heer Raanjha”, “Dil Ki Rahen”, “Mausam”, “Laila Majnu” etc. Laxmikant-Pyarelal and R. D. Burman composed Lata’s most notable songs in the 1970s.
She sang many hit songs with R. D. Burman in Amar Prem, Caravan, Kati Patang, and Aandhi. In 1973, she won National Filmfare Award for Best Female Playback Singer for the song “Beeti Na Bitai” from Parichay, composed by R. D. Burman and written by Gulzar.
In 1974, she sang her only Malayalam song “Kadali Chenkadai” for the film Nellu. In 1975, again she won the National award for “Roothe Roothe Piya” from Kora Kagaz.
From the 1970s onwards, she also staged many concerts in India and abroad, including many charity concerts. Her first concert overseas was at Royal Albert Hall, London.
She was the first Indian to do so. She released an album on “Mirabai’s Bhajans” named “Chala Vaahi Des”. Hridaynath Mangeshkar composed it.
In the early 1970s, she non-filmy album such as a collection of “Galib’s Ghazala”, an album of Marathi folk songs, an album of Ganesh aartis, and an album of “abhangs” of Sant Tukaram.
In 1978, she sang for Raj Kapoor in film Satyam Shivam Sundaram, which was among the char-toppers of the year. Raj Kapoor’s daughter Ritu Nanda reveals the story of being inspired by Lata Mangeshkar in her latest book.
The 1980s: Lata Mangeshkar Hit Song
From the 1980s onwards, she worked with Shiv-Hari in Silsila, Faasle, Vijay, and Chandni. With Ram Laxman, she sang for Ustadi Ustad Se, Bezubaan, Who Jo Hasina, Ye Kesa Farz, and Maine Pyar Kiya. She sang for Karz, Ek Duuje Ke Liye, Silsila, Prem Rog, Hero, Pyar Jhukta Nahin, Ram Teri Ganga Maili, Nagina, Chandni and Ram Lakhan.
Her song Zu Zu Zu Yashhoda was a chartbuster. In the late 1980s, she made a comeback to Tamil films. In the 1980s she sang her biggest hit “Sheesha Ho Ya Dil Ho” in Aasha with Laxmikant-Pyarelal, Tu Kitne Baras Ka” in Karz, “Kitna Aasan Hai” in Dostana, “Hum Ko Bhi Gham” in Aas Paas, “Mere Naseeb Mein” in Naseeb, “Zindagi Ki Na Toote” in Kranti, “Solah Baras Ki” in Ek Duje Ke Liye, “Ye Galiyan Ye Chaubara”, in Prem Rog, “Likhnewalr Ne Likh Dale” in Arpan, “Din Mahine Saal” in Avtaar, Pyar Karnewale” and “Nindiya Se Jagi” in Hero, “Zu Zu Zu Yashoda” in Sanjog, “Zindgi Har Qardam” in Meri Jung, “Baith Mere Paas” in Yadon Ki Kasam, “Ungli Main Anghoti” in Ram Avtar and “O Ramji Tere Lakhan Ne” in Ram Lakhan.
Some of R. D. Burman’s compositions for Lata in three years are “Aaja-Sar-e-Bazaar” in Alibaba 40 Chor, “Kya Yahi Pyar Hai” in Rocky, “Dekho Maine Dekha” in Love Story, “Tune O Rangeela” in Kudrat, “Jaane Kaise Kab” in Shakti, “Jab Hum Jawan” in Betaab became instantly popular.
Even “Humein Aur Jeene Ki” in Bade Dil Wala, “Jaane Kya Baat” in Sunny, “Sagar Kinare” in Sagar was also very popular. In collaboration with Rajesh Roshan and Dev Anand she sang “Paas Ho Tum” and Sumansudha Rajni Chandha”.
She had duets with Rafi also, some of them are “Tujh Sang Preet” in Kamchor, “Angrezi Main Kahete Hai” in Khudgarz, “Dushman Na Kare” in Aakhir Kyun” etc.
Bappi Lahiri composed some songs for Lata, few of them are “Thoda Resham Lagta Hai” in Jyoti, “Dard Ki Ragini” in Pyas and “Naino Main Sapna” in Himmatwala. Mohammed Zahur Khayyam continued to work with her during the 80s.
He composed “Hazaar Rahein Mud” in Thodi Si Bewafai, “Na Jane Kya Hua” in Dard, etc. During 80s Lata sang hits such as “Sun Sahiba Sun” in Ram Teri Ganga Meli”, “Shayad Meri Shadi” and “Zindgi Pyar Ka” in Sautan.
In June 1985, the United Way of Greater Toronto invited her to perform at Maple Leaf Gardens. At the request of Anne Murray, she sang her song “You Need Me’. 12,000 attended the concert. They raised $150,000 for charity.
During the 1990s, she recorded with Aanand Milind, Nadeem Shravan, Jatin Lalit, Dilip Sen-Sameer Sen, Uttam Sing, Anu Malik, Aadesh Shrivastava, and A.R.Rahman.
Even she recorded some non-filmy songs including Gazals with Jagjit Singh. She also sang with Kumar Sanu, Amit Kumar, S. P. Balasurahmanyam, Udit Narayan, Hariharan, Sonu Nigam, etc.
In the 1990s, she launched her own production house for Hindi movies. They produced Lekin. She won her third National Film Award for Bes Female Playback Singer for the song “Yaara Sili Sili”.
She sang for all most all films under Yash Raj Films. Some of them are Chandni, Lamhe, Darr, Yeh Dillagi, Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayege, Dil To Pagal Hai, etc.
She recorded for Ramlaxman also. Some of them are Patthar Ke Phool, 100 days, I Love You, Dil Ki Baazi, Hum Aapke Hain Kaun, etc. With A. R. Rahman recorded “Jiya Jale” in Dil Se, “Khamoshiyan Gungunane Lagin” in One 2 Ka 4, “Lukka Chuppi” in Rang De Basanti, etc.
She sang R. D. Burman’s first and last song. Their last song was “Kuch Na Kaho” for 1942 A Love Story. In 1999, Lata Eau de Parfume was launched on the name of her.
She also awarded Zee Cine Award for Lifetime Achievement in 1999. She was nominated as a member of Rajya Sabha. However, she never attends Rajya Sabha sessions regularly. She did not take a salary, allowance, or a house in Delhi being a Member of Parliament.
In 2001, she awarded Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian honor. Same in 2001, she established Master Deenanath Mangeshakas Hospital in Pune.
Lata Mangeshkar Medical Foundation manages it. Mangeshkar family founded this medical foundation in October 1989. In 2001, she recorded her first Hindi song with IIaiyaraaja for the film Lajja. In 2005, she designed Swaranjali a jewelry collection.
Adora, an Indian diamond export company, crafted it. Five pieces from that collection raised 105,000 at a Christie’s auction. A part of the money from that auction was donated for the 2005 Kashmir earthquake relief. On 21st June 2007, she released the album Sadgi. It was a bunch of eight Gazal-like songs written by Javed Akhtar and composed by Mayuresh Pai.
On 12th April 2011, she released the album Sarhadein. It contains the rare duet “Tera Milna Bahut Acha Lage” by Lata and Mehdi Hassan. Pakistan’s Farhad Shahzad wrote it.
Usha Mangeshkar, Suresh Wadkar, Hariharan, Sonu Nigam, Rekha Bharadwaj, and Gulam Ali sang for that album, with compositions by Mayuresh Pai and others.
After 14years, she recorded a song for Nadeem-Shravan “Kaise Piya Se” for Bewafaa. She also sang “Kitne Ajeeb Rishte Hain Yahan Par” for Page 3 and “Daata Sun Le” for Jail.
On 28th November 2012, she launched her own music label, LM Music with Bhajans. In 2014, she recorded Shurodhwani- Bengali songs. On 30th March 2019, she released the song “Saugandh Mujhe is Mitti Ki”, composed by Pai, as a tribute to the Indian Army and Nation.
Lata Mangeshkar has sung 185 songs in Bengali. She made her debut in 1956 with the song “Prem Ekbari Esechilo Nirobe”, composed by Hemant Kumar. It became a classic hit.
The same year she recorded “Rongila Banshite” which was also a hit. In the late 1950s she some hits composed by Salil Chaudhry.
In 1960, she recorded “Akash Pradip Jole” a smash hit even today. In the late 1960s, she sang many hit songs composed by Sudhin Dasgupta, Hemant Kumar, and Chowdhry.
From the 1940s to 1970s, she sang a duet with Asha Bhosle, Suraiya, Shamshad Begum, Usha Mangeshkar, Mohammed Rafi, Kishor Kumar, Mukesh, Manna Day, Hemant Kumar and Mahendra Kapoor. In 1964, she sang “Chanda Se Hoga” with P. B. Sreenivas from “Main Bhi Ladki Hoon”.
She continued to sing with Shabbir Kumar, Shailendra Sing, Nitin Mukesh, Manhar Udhas, Amit Kumar, Vinod Rathod, etc. In the 1990s, she sang duets with Pankaj Udhas, Mohammed Aziz, Abhijeet Bhattacharya, Kumar Sanu, and Suresh Wadkar. Her most popular songs from the 90s were from “Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge”.
In the 2000s, she sang duets mainly with Udit Narayan and Sonu Nigam. 2005-06 were the years of her last well-known songs from Bewafa, Lucky, and Rang De Basanti. Other notable songs of this decade were from Veer-Zaara. One of her latest songs was “Jeena Hai Kya” from Dunno Y2.
Non-singing career of Lata Mangeshkar:
Lata Mangeshkar composed music for the first time in 1955 for the Marathi movie Ram Pavane. Then she composed music for Marathi movies under the Pseudonym of Anand Ghan.
Some of them are Maratha Tituka Melvara in 1963, Mohityachi Manjula in 1963, Sadhi Manase in 1965, and Tambadi Mati in 1069. From all these, she won Maharashtra State Government’s Best Music Director Award for the film Sadhi Manase. From the same film the song “Airanichya Deva Tula” received the best song award.
Lata Mangeshkar produced four films. They are Vaadal (Marathi) in 1953, Jhaanjhar (Hindi) in 1953, Kanchan Ganga (Hindi) in 1955, and Lekin (Hindi) in 1990.
Lata Mangeshkar Awards and Recognitions:
Lata Mangeshkar has won several awards and honors, including Padma Vibhushan, Zee cine Award for Lifetime Achievements, Bharat Ratna, Padma Bhushan, Dadasaheb Phalke Award, Bharat Ratna, Legion of Honour, Maharastra Bhushan Award, NTR National Award, ANR National Award, 15 Bengal Film Journalists Award and three National Awards. She also won four times Filmfare Best Playback Singer Awards.
In 1969, she won the unusual gesture of giving up the Filmfare Best Playback, award in order to promote fresh talent. Later she was awarded Filmfare Lifetime Achievement WARD AND Filmfare Special awards in 1994 and 2004.
State Government of Maharashtra instituted Lata Mangeshkar Award in honor of Lata Mangeshkar. The same way the state government of Maharashtra also instituted the Lata Mangeshkar Award.
In 2009, Mangeshkar awarded the title of Officer of the French Legion of Honour, France’s highest order. In 2012, Mangeshkar ranked number 10 in Outlook India’s poll of the Greatest Indian.
Ustad Bade Ali Khan said Kambakht Kabhi Besuri Na Hoti means she is never off-key. Once Dilip Kumar said “Lata Mangeshkar ki Awaz Kudrat ki Takhleek ka Karishma Hain means “Lata Mangeshkar’s voice is a miracle of God”. Lata Mangeshkar also received honorary doctorates from Sangeet Natak Akademi in 1989.
Controversy of Guinness Book Record:
In 1974, The Guinness Book of Records listed Lata Mangeshkar as the most recorded artist in history. She had reportedly recorded “not less than 25,000 solos, solo, duet and chorus backed songs in 20 Indian languages” from 1948 to 1974.
Mohammad Rafi contested her record; he claimed to sing around 28,000 songs. After Rafi’s death, in its 1984 edition again Guinness Book of World Record again stated Lata Mangeshkar’s name for the “Most Recordings”, but also stated Rafi’s claim.
The later edition of Guinness Book of World Record state that Lata Mangeshkar had sung no fewer than 30,000 songs from 1948 to 1987.
Lata Mangeshkar herself has stated that she does not keep a record of the number of songs recorded by her and that she did not know from where Guinness Book editors got their information.