Lata Mangeshkar born on 28 September 1929 is an Indian playback singer and music director. She is one of the best-known and most respected playback singers in India. She has recorded songs in over a thousand Hindi films and has sung songs in over thirty-six regional Indian languages and foreign languages, though primarily in Marathi, Hindi, Bengali and Assamese.
Mangeshkar’s father, Dinanath Mangeshkar, was a noted Marathi stage personality popularly known as Master Dinanath. Lata, who was the eldest of five siblings, was introduced to music at an early age. She recorded her first song at age 13 for Vasant Joglekar’s Marathi film Kiti Hasaal, though her song did not make the final edit. Mangeshkar was trained from age five by her father, a discipline of the Gwalior gharana (a community of performers who share a distinctive musical style), and she was also tutored by maestros such as Aman Ali Khan Sahib and Amanat Khan. As a teenager she struggled to help support her family and to establish herself as a playback singer in the Hindi film industry of the 1940s, at a time when the profession was dominated by such divas as Shamshad Begum and Noor Jehan.
After Mangeshkar recorded the hit “Uthaye ja unke sitam” in Andaz (1949), her destiny was sealed. From that point on she voiced the musical parts for every major leading lady, representing every generation of Hindi cinema from Nargis and Waheeda Rehman to Madhuri Dixit and Preity Zinta. Music directors such as Naushad Ali, Madan Mohan, and S.D. Burman composed tunes specifically to exploit the potential of her wide-ranging soprano. Mangeshkar’s singing contributed a great deal to the commercial success of such films as Mahal (1949), Barsaat (1949), Satyam shivam sundaram (1978), and Maine pyar kiya (1989). Notable among her concert performances was her wartime rendition of the poet Pradeep’s patriotic song “Ae mere watan ke logo,” which moved Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru to tears.
During the 1980s Lataji worked on compositions by Rahul Dev Burman, son of Sachin Dev Burman, and Lataji’s would be brother-in-law. R.D., who was known to prefer Asha Bhosle for his versatile compositions, used Lataji’s voice for his more melodious compositions like ‘Kya Yahi Pyar Hai’ in Rocky (1981), ‘Humein Aur Jeene Ki’ in Agar Tum Na Hote (1983), ‘Tujhse Naraaz Nahin’ in Masoom (1983) and ‘Seeli Hawa Chhoo Gayi’ in Libas (1988).
Her collaboration with music director duo Laxmikant Pyarelal produced some of the most superhit songs of the time that are still hummed with equal enthusiasms by Indians. The duo considered Lataji instrumental in their success. ‘Dil Vil Pyar Vyar’ from Shagird (1968), Sheesha Ho YaDil Ho from Asha (1980), Mere Naseeb Mein from Naseeb (1981) and Ye Galiyan Ye Chaubara from Prem Rog (1982) are some of their most popular collaborations. Other acclaimed scoresin the 1980s with include title track from Ram Teri Ganga Maili (1985) with music director Ravindra Jain and Dikhayi Diye Yun in Bazaar (1982) with Khayyam.
1990s onwards, Lataji worked with music directors like Anu Malik, Jatin Lalit and A.R. Rahman. Films like Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, Hum aapke Hain Kaun, Dil Se, Rang De Basanti featured acclaimed songs sung by Lataji. She gradually decreased the volume of her work due to health reasons, singing selective compositions. She launched several albums during her musical career including Chala Vahi Des (1979) with Brother Hridaynath Mangeshkar, Ram Ratan Dhan Payo (1983) and Shraddanjali-My Tribute to the Immortals (1994).
In 1991 Mangeshkar was credited with having made 30,000 solo, duet, and chorus-backed song recordings in 14 Indian languages between 1948 and 1987. She won four Filmfare awards (Filmfare is a noted Indian film magazine) for her song “Aaja re pardesi” from the film Madhumati (1958), for “Kahin deep jale kahin dil” from Bees saal baad (1962), for “Tumhi mere mandir” from the film Khandaan (1965), and for “Aap mujhe acchhe lagne lage” from the film Jeene ki raah (1969). She was awarded the Padma Vibhushan, one of India’s highest civilian honours, in 1999, and two years later she became only the second film celebrity (the first was Satyajit roy in 1992) to receive the Bharat Ratna (2001), India’s highest civilian award for performance of the highest order in any field. Mangeshkar’s sister Asha Bhosle was also a noted playback singer.