Lata Mangeshkar made her entry in the world of playback singing after mastering command over classical music. She not only learnt the finer nuances of the grammar of classical music but also interpreted how to present them. Barde Gulam Ali Khan once commented about Lata, “This girl never sings out of tune.” She had in her voice an appeal to create a magical spell that could mesmerize millions of music lovers for more than seven decades. This trait of made the Melody Queen different from others. Her melodic voice regaled the ears and swimmingly journeyed to the heart to make one emotional and transport one’s mind in the realm of romance. Needless to say, Lata found her unsurpassable niche in the world of musical. The legendary singer was appositely called the Nightingale of India.

Struggle in Life

Born to a noted musician Pandit Dinanath Mangeshkar and Shevanti on 28 September, 1929, started her career as a professional singer early because of her father’s untimely death when she was girl of mere 13. As the eldest child of the family she was burdened with four siblings including Asha, Usha, Meena and only brother Hridaynath. She sang the song “Naachu Yaa Gade, Khelu Saari Mani Haus Bhaari” for a Marathi movie Kiti Hasaal in 1942. But the song was dropped from the final cut. She also played a small role in Navyug Chitrapat’s Marathi movie Pahili Mangalaa-gour in the same year and sang a song “Natli Chaitraachi Navalaai”. In 1943, she voiced her first Hindi song “Mata Ek Sapoot Ki Duniya Badal De Tu” for the Marathi film Gajaabhaau. She moved to Mumbai in 1945 and learnt Hindustani classical music from Ustad Aman Ali Khan of Bhindibazaar Gharana. She along with her sister Asha played minor roles in first Hindi movie Badi Maa in 1945. Later she was mentored by music director Ghulam Haider. Her voice was dismissed by Sashadhar Mukerjee, a producer, as too thin. But Ghulam Haider whom Lata looked upon her Godfather, proved himself a clairvoyant as he commented, “In coming years producers and directors would fall at Lata’s feet and beg her to sing in movies.” Haider gave Lata her first major break with the song “Dil Mera Toda, Mujhe Kahin Ka Na CHhora” lyricked by Nazim Panipati in the film Majboor in 1948. But the song “Aayega Aanewaala” composed by Khemchand Prakash and lip-synced on screen by actress Madhubala in the movie Mahal in 1949 proved watershed in her music career. Her popularity as a female voice remained untainted till Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge in 1995.

Shaping Career of Heroines

Indian cinema world has witnessed a great deal of changes including actors, editors, music composers, lyricists and even the audience except Lata Mangeshkar. She not only enthralled audiences in India and overseas with her heavenly vocals for close to eight decades but also shaped the careers of many a good many heroines including. Needless to say, she voices the theme songs of the star actresses of every generation for decades – “Pyar Hua Ikrar Hua” lipped by Nargis in the film “Sri 420”, “Jab Pyar Kiya To Darna Kya” by Madhubala in “Mughal-E-Azam”, “Chalte Chalte Yun Hi Koi” by Mina Kumari in “Pakeezah”, “Ap Ki Nazron Ne Samjha” by Mala Sinha in “Anpad”, “Aaj Phir Jeene Ki Tamanna Hai” by Waheeda Rehman in “Guide”, “Hoton Mein Aisi Baat” by Vaijayanti Mala in “Jewel Thief”, “Ab Ke Sajan Swan Mein” by Sharmila Tagore in “Chupke Chupke”, “Maine Kaha Phoolon Se” by Jaya Bhaduri in “Mili”, “Pardesia, Ye Sach Hai Piya” by Rekha in “Mr. Natwarlal”, “Mere Hatho Me Nau Nau Churdia Hain” by Sridevi in “Chandni”, “Didi Tera Debar Diwana” by Madhuri Dixit in “Hum Aapke Hai Koun”, “Humko Humise Chura Lo” by Aishwarya Rai in “Mohabbatein” etc. Besides, there are thousands of her that win the hearts of millions. Some of them are “Baahon Mein Chale Aao” in “Anamika”, “Nainon Mein Badra Chaye” in “Mera Saya”, “Yeh Zindagi Usi Ki Hai” in “Anarkali”, “Allah Tero Naam” in “Hum Dono”, “Tum Na Jaane Is Jagah” in “Sazaa”, “Dheere Dheere Machal” in “Anupama” and so on.

Drew Tears in Nehru’s Eyes

The day was the Republic Day of 26th January of 1963. Lata sang the legendary song “Ae Mere Waton Ke Logon” (Oh, the people of my country) in the presence of Nehru on the Ramlila Maidan in New Delhi on January 27, 1963. The rendition of the song dedicating to the Indian soldiers after a humiliating defeat in the Indo-China war in 1962 outpoured such a wanton of grief that it moved the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru to tears. The song sowed the seed of patriotism in the hearts of millions of Indians once again after freedom struggle against the British. Since then she had sweet bonhomie with all the other Prime Ministers irrespective of their political differences. Indira Gandhi introduced her two sons with Lata. During Atal Behari Vajpayee’s prime ministership she was given membership in Rajya Sabha. But she attended the Upper House only 6 times her 6-year term from 22nd November, 1999 to 21st November, 2005 because of her disinterest in politics. Once she said, “What do I know of politics?” The veteran BJP leader Lalkrishna Advani felt himself fortunate when Lata Mangeskar sang “Ram Naam Me Jadu Aisa/Ram Naam Maan Vaye/Maan Ki Ayodhya Tab Tak Suni/Jab Tak Ram Na Aye” (Magical spell of the name Ram engrosses the mind and the mind of Ayodhya is still regales the ear until Ram arrives). Though she had hobnobbed with politicians, she never allowed politics to blemish/scar her divine musical career.


Lata Mangeshkar’s nonpareil music career spanned nearly eight decades. She stamped her versatility with her peerless voice coalesced with emotional outpour and affable appeal in more than 30,000 songs in 36 languages. Her professionalism deserved praise. She first became vocal on the issue of royalties of the singers. Besides, she forced the Mumbai film industry to pay due respect to inscribe the names of the singers on cassettes, albums, CDs etc. She had enough guts to take on the bigwigs of the Hindi film industry to reach the acme of her goal. Music directors and composer had to wait for months for agreement with her for she was nearly always the first choice to them. Wiping out the ignominious term ‘bazaru’ (cheap) tagged on Hindi film songs; she with her classical base purified and elevated them to a new height. She worked with almost all the great music composers and directors including Madan Mohan, Salil Choudhury, S.D. Barman, Anil Biswas, Khayyam, Jaidev, Hemanta Mukhopadhaya, Shanker-Jaikishen, Noushad, Laximikant-Pyarelal, Kalyanji-Anandji, Ghulam Mohamed, and R.D. Barman.

Lesser Known Stories of Lata:

Lata was named “Hema” at her birth. But she was rechristened “Lata” after a female character “Latika” in one of her father’s plays. When Lata was a mere girl, her father Pandit Dinanath Mangeshkar was stunned to see that she was teaching a shagird (disciple) and correcting him in her father’s absence. Lata recorded the first son of her career “Naachu Yaa Gade, Khelu Saari Mani Haus Bhaari” in 1942 for a Marathi movie named Kiti Hasal but it was removed from the film finally. She in her marathon music career never worked with OP Nayyar, one of the most prominent Indian music composers. She holds the honour of being the first-ever Indian to perform in the prestigious Royal Albert Hall in London. Once she admitted candidly that she never listens to her own songs lest she should discover a hundred faults in her singing. Lata Mangeshkar last recorded a song “Saugandh Mujhe Is Mitti Ki”, a tribute to the Indian Army and nation and it was released on March 30, 2019. She was an animal lover. There were 9 dogs in her house. She used to feed them daily.

Lover for Cricket

Lata had interests in multifarious subjects. Cricket was her passion. Never had she displayed paucity of seriousness in other fields that attracted her. She didn’t hesitate to sing in the Indira Gandhi stadium in a function to collect money for the Indian cricket team under the captaincy of Kapil Dev that lifted Prudential Cup in Lords in 1986. Fourteen players of the World Cup winning team were rewarded Rs. 1, 00,000 each from the money collected from the show. For her contribution to save the face of Indian Cricket from embarrassment the Board honoured her with two VIP tickets of any international matches anywhere in the world reserved till her death. She was a regular spectator of cricket during 60s to 80s. She had cordial relation with a good many cricketers of Mumbai including Sunil Gavaskar, Dilip Bengsarkar et al. Sachin Tendulkar found Goddess Saraswati in her. Despite her deep passion for cricket, she stood by East Bengal when the club was in acute financial crisis. She agreed to sing for a song in a programme arranged in the East Bengal Club ground on the occasion of the club’s pre-platinum jubilee. Very few know that Lata was an excellent photographer. She could create magic in black and white camera.

Honours & Awards

Lata Mangeshkar was showered with several awards and honours. Besides Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian award, she won Padma Bhushan, Padma Vibhushan, Dadasaheb Phalke Award, three National Film Awards, Legion of Honour, the highest French order, Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award, Sangeet Natak Akademi and a number of Doctor of Letters from India and abroad.

Lata Mangeshkar entitled as the Nightingale of India, holds the distinction of being the first Indian artist ever to perform live at London’s iconic Royal Albert Hall. Dilip Kumar, whom Lata referred to as “Yusuf Bhai” introduced her to the audience in the most adorable manner.

He said,

 “Just as the fragrance of a flower has no colour, just as flowing water or the breeze have no boundaries, and just as the rays of the sun have no religious divide, the voice of Lata Mangeshkar is just such a miracle of nature”.

The End

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  • Lata Mangeshkar I Wedded to music, it was music that was her language of communication by Anuradha Raman in Hindu on Feb 06, 2022
  • When Lata moved Nehru to tears in Print on Jan 28, 2004
  • Lata Mangeshkar 1929 – 1922 in Print on Feb 06, 2022
  • Lata Mangeshkar: 10 lesser-known facts about the ‘Nightingale of India’ in The Indian Express on Feb 06, 2022
  • Lata Mangeshkar in Britannica on Feb 06, 2022
  • Lata Mangeshkar lived a simple life even after being owner of property worth crores by Laxman Chaurasiya in Track on Feb 06, 2022
  • Lata Mangeshkar; A voice that reshaped India’s popular culture in Hindustan Times on Feb 07, 2022
  • When Lata Mangeshkar sang for Madan Mohan by P. K. Ahith Kumar in Hindustan Times on Feb 06, 2022
  • Lata Mangeshkar’s Unwavering Bollywood Melodies by Mayukh Sen on Feb 13, 2022
  • Voice, Gender and Space in Time of Five-Year Plans
  • The Idea of Lata Mangeshkar by Sanjay Srivastava in JSTOR on May 15, 2004