28th September is Lata Mangeshkar’s 94th birth anniversary. While one has even an ounce of interest in Indian music, Mangeshkar’s name won’t be a stranger to him or her. On Lata Mangeshkar Birthday, we dedicate a tribute to the voice that enchants millions.
Lata Mangeshkar has fondly been called the nightingale of India. She is the most prolific Bollywood singer ever and has performed with generations and eras of artists.
Mangeshkar took to work as a 13-year-old child following the demise of her father. Across her career, she has sung 20,000 songs.
The popularity of Mangeshkar is at such heights among Indian audiences that she is associated with all happenings that take place in our lives, be it first love, first heartbreak, or even political affairs. Every word emancipating from her mouth encompasses a deep emotion. Her voice has been the epitome of divinity, and Mangeshkar has also sung numerous devotional songs, for movies and otherwise in her career.
Lata ji comes from a musically inclined family
People who have followed Mangeshkar through her life and career would know that she comes from a musically inclined family and background. Her siblings, Asha Bhonsale, Pt. Hridaynath Mangeshkar, Meena Khadikar, and Usha Mangeshkar are also renowned musicians.
Lata Mangeshkar Birthday is 28th September 1929. She was born in Solapur, Maharashtra in a conservative Maharashtrian family. Her parents were Deenanath Mangeshkar and Shudhamati. Lata was the eldest among the five siblings.
It is known that during her younger days, Lata used to be quite mischievous. She herself confesses that during her younger days, she would steal guavas from other people’s plantations. The mischief would end only when her father gave the siblings a sharp look or her mother would beat them up.
The siblings were all fond of watching movies, even though her father had reservations about the idea.
Lata’s sister, Meena, who is just a couple of years younger than her tells us that in her childhood, Lata would sing all the time. She would sing to her mother when she prepared food in the kitchen. Her father felt a spark of talent within her, waiting to be discovered.
Lata’s father would don many hats. He used to be a Hindustani classical vocalist, a Natya Sangeet musician, and a maestro of Marathi theatre. When Lata was only five, her father could see that she had it in her to be a great singer.
Over time, Lata became her father’s disciple and began to travel with him for each of his performances. Tragedy struck the family when her father passed away in 1942 when Lata was only 13. Meena says that it took just a day for Lata to turn 22 from 13. Lata took over the responsibility of her siblings. Their father expired in April and Lata started working in June.
The magical songstress took up the responsibility of her siblings and family at a young age
Lata told us that to provide for the family, she was willing to sing and act. The distance between Malad station and the studio was huge. While everyone used Tonga for transportation, Lata would walk her way to the studio. This would let her save money which she could use for buying vegetables on the way back home.
Lata would refrain from consuming meals for the entire day such that she could provide for her family.
Towards the beginning of her career, Lata found roles for herself in the Marathi film industry. This was made possible with the efforts put in by Master Vinayak, who was an actor.
Notable movies in Lata’s career as an actor were Pahili Mangalagaur (1942), Subhadra (1946), and Mandir (1948).
Lata ji’s career in music was not an instant success
Master Vinayak expired in 1947. Lata then began to explore the opportunities for being a singer in movies. Work eluded her, despite having recommendations from Vasant Desai and Datta Davjekar, who were music directors.
It was then in 1948 that Lata’s immense talent was recognized by Master Ghulam Haider, a renowned composer. Haider took Lata to Filmistaan Studio, such that she could meet Sashadhar Mukherjee, the studio’s producer and founder.
Mukherjee was not impressed by Lata’s voice and called it too thin. OP Nayyar expressed the same opinion in later days.
Lata’s first break came in the 1948 movie Majboor. Haider had taken her to Bombay Talkies and trained her for three days before granting her the opportunity.
Lata’s talent found recognition among the masses and Haider became a godfather for her. Lata’s top competitors during those days were Shamshad Begum, Geeta Dutt, Amirbai Karnatki, Rajkumari, and Zohrabai Ambalewali.
During those days, Lata was not perfect with Hindi and Urdu dictation. So she mastered it by hiring a teacher and the aspect found finesse.
Lata ji’s legacy is unparalleled
Few people will be aware that Lata Mangeshkar has sung thousands of songs in 36 Indian languages. Besides, she has also sung in Dutch, Fijian, Russian, English, and Swahili in a career lasting for nearly eight decades.
Lata would sing 300 songs yearly for the first five years of her career. Then, for the two decades that followed, she would sing 500 songs yearly.
It was with the coming of the 1970s that Lata began to dedicate her time to world tours to sing songs on stage. The yearly frequency of songs that she sang reduced slightly.
In total, Lata Mangeshkar went on to sing 20,000 songs. But she refrained from listening to her songs. When she did not have the time for a project, Lata would recommend other budding singers for the same. Lata ji and her sister Asha ji are known to be perfectionists for being perfect.
Lata Mangeshkar is recognized for singing Bollywood songs, bhajans, ghazals, devotionals, and khayals. She has been an institution in the Indian music industry and Lata Mangeshkar Birthday is celebrated by millions in India to date.
Lata ji passed away in 2022 after suffering from Covid-19 and pneumonia.