Lata Mangeshkar is a singer from India. She is one of the best-known playback singers in the Hindi film industry. Mangeshkar’s career started in 1942 and has spanned over six and a half decades. She sang in over a thousand Bollywood movies and has sung songs in over twenty regional Indian languages, but primarily in Hindi. She is the elder sister of the equally accomplished singer Asha Bhosle and lesser-known singers, brother Hridayanath Mangeshkar and sisters Usha Mangeshkar and Meena Mangeshkar. Lata is the second vocalist ever to have received the Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian honour.
Mangeshkar was featured in the Guinness Book of World Records from 1974 to 1991 for having made the most recordings in the world. The claim was that she had recorded no less than 25,000 solo, duet, and chorus-backed songs in 20 Indian languages between 1948 to 1974 (30,000 songs between 1948 and 1987, according to the 1987 edition). Over the years, while several sources have supported this claim, others have raised concerns over its veracity, claiming that this number was highly exaggerated and that Mangeshkar’s sister, Asha Bhosle, had more song recordings than she had.
Lata Mangeshkar was born in a Maharashtrian family in Sikh Mohalla, Indore, in the State of Madhya Pradesh. Her father, Pandit Deenanath Mangeshkar who belonged to a Konkani speaking Kalavant Family from Goa, was a classical singer and theater actor. Her mother Shudhhamati, who was from Thalner, was Deenanath’s second wife. The family’s last name used to be Hardikar; Deenanath changed it to Mangeshkar in order to identify his family with his native town, Mangeshi in Goa. Lata was named “Hridaya” at her birth. Her parents later renamed her Lata after a female character, Latika, in one of her father’s plays, BhaawBandhan. Lata is the eldest child of her parents. Asha, Hridayanath, Usha, and Meena are her siblings in sequence.
Lata took her first music lessons from her father. At the age of five, she started to work as an actress in her father’s musical plays (sangeet naatak in Marathi). Her father’s recitals and lessons left a strong impression on her, as did the songs of K.L. Saigal, who was her favorite singer and idol. Her formal education was limited to one day in the school. On the first day in the school, she started teaching songs to other children. When the teacher stopped her, she was so angry that she stopped going to the school. Other sources cite that she left school because they would not allow her to bring Asha with her, as she would often bring her younger sister with her.
Early movie career in the 1940s
In 1942, when Lata was 13, her father died of heart disease. Master Vinayak (Vinayak Damodar Karnataki), the owner of Navyug Chitrapat movie company and a close friend of the Mangeshkar family, took care of them. He helped Lata get started in a career as a singer and actress.
Lata sang the song “Naachu Yaa Gade, Khelu Saari Mani Haus Bhaari,” which was composed by Sadashivrao Nevrekar for Vasant Joglekar’s Marathi-language movie Kiti Hasaal (1942), but the song was dropped from the final cut. Master Vinayak gave her a small role in Navyug Chitrapat’s Marathi movie Pahili Mangalaa-gaur (1942), in which she sang “Natali Chaitraachi Navalaai,” which was composed by Dada Chandekar. Her first Hindi song was Mata Ek Sapoot Ki Duniya Badal De Tu for the Marathi film, Gajaabhaau (1943). Lata moved to Mumbai in 1945 when Master Vinayak’s company moved its headquarters there. She started taking lessons in Hindustani classical music from Ustad Amanat Ali Khan Bhendibazaarwale. She sang “Paa Lagoon Kar Jori” for Vasant Joglekar’s Hindi-language movie Aap Ki Seva Mein (1946),which was composed by Datta Davjekar. Lata and her sister Asha played minor roles alongside actress Noor Jehan in Master Vinayak’s first Hindi-language movie, Badi Maa (1945). In that movie, Lata also sang a bhajan (religious song), “Maata Tere Charnon Mein.” She was introduced to music director Vasant Desai during the recording of Master Vinayak’s second Hindi-language movie, Subhadra (1946).
Following the partition of India in 1947, Ustad Amanat Ali Khan Bhendibazaarwale migrated to newly formed Pakistan, so Lata started to learn classical music under Amanat Khan Devaswale. Pandit Tulsidas Sharma, a pupil of Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan, also trained her.
After Master Vinayak’s death in 1948, music director Ghulam Haider mentored Lata as a singer. In those days, Noor Jehan, Shamshad Begum, and Zohrabai Ambalewali, with their rather heavy and often nasal voices, were the popular female singers in Hindi movies. Haider introduced Lata to producer Sashadhar Mukherjee, who was working then on the movie Shaheed (1948), but Mukherjee dismissed her voice as “too thin.” An annoyed Haider responded that in the coming years the producers and the directors would “fall at Lata’s feet” and “beg her” to sing in their movies. Haider gave Lata her first major break with the song “Dil Mera Toda,” from the movie Majboor (1948).
Initially, Lata imitated Noor Jehan, who was then the most popular singer, but later she developed her own style of singing. Lyrics of songs in Hindi movies are primarily composed by Urdu poets and contain a higher proportion of Urdu words, including the dialogue. Actor Dilip Kumar once made a mildly disapproving remark about Lata’s Maharashtrian accent while singing Hindi/Urdu songs; so for a period of time, Lata took lessons in Urdu from an Urdu teacher named Shafi.
“Aayega Aanewaala,” a song in the popular movie Mahal (1949) proved a turning point for her. (The song was composed by music director Khemchand Prakash and lip-synced on screen by actress Madhubala).
Rise in the 1950s
In the 1950s, Lata sang songs composed by various acclaimed music directors of the period, including Anil Biswas, Shankar-Jaikishan, Naushad, S. D. Burman, C. Ramchandra, Hemant Kumar, Salil Chowdhury, Khayyam, Ravi, Sajjad Hussain, Roshan, Kalyanji-Anandji,Vasant Desai, Sudhir Phadke, Hansraj Behl, Madan Mohan, and Usha Khanna. (Acclaimed music director O. P. Nayyar was an exception who favored Lata’s sister Asha Bhosle as the singer of many of his compositions.)
Mangeshkar sang many raga-based songs for Naushad in movies such as Baiju Bawra (1952), Mughal-E-Azam (1960), and Kohinoor (1960). Ae Chorre Ki Jaat Badi Bewafa, a duet with G. M. Durrani, was Lata’s first song for composer, Naushad. The duo, Shankar-Jaikishan, chose Lata as the female singer in practically all movies for which they scored, primarily for Raj Kapoor. These movies include Aag, Aah (1953), Shree 420 (1955), and Chori Chori (1956). Before 1957, composer Sachin Dev (S. D.) Burman chose Lata as the leading female singer for his musical scores in many movies, including Sazaa (1951), House No. 44 (1955), and Devdas (1955). However a rift developed between Lata and Burman in 1957, and Lata did not sing Burman’s compositions again until 1962. Instead, from 1957 to 1962, Burman used Geeta Dutt and Lata’s sister Asha Bhosle as his primary female playback singers.
Salil Chowdhury was among Lata’s favorite composers during the 1950s. She won her first Filmfare Best Female Playback Award for Chowdhury’s composition “Aaja Re Pardesi,” from Madhumati (1958).
The 1960s thrust Lata Mangeshkar to being known as the undisputed leading female playback singer in Hindi cinema. She recorded songs for nearly every major composer of the period, and many of these songs continue to be popular.
In 1960, her song Pyar Kiya To Darna Kya from Mughal-E-Azam (1960), composed by Naushad and picturized on Madhubala, was particularly popular. The Hawaiian-themed number Ajeeb Dastaan Hai Yeh from Dil Apna Aur Preet Parai (1960), composed by Shankar-Jaikishan and picturized on Meena Kumari, also became a hit.
In 1961, Mangeshkar took the first step on the road to reconciliation with S. D. Burman, as she recorded a bhajan, Allah Tero Naam, for Burman’s assistant, Jaidev. In 1962, she bagged her second Filmfare Award for the song Kahin Deep Jale Kahin Dil from Bees Saal Baad, composed by Hemant Kumar.
On June 27, 1963, against the backdrop of the Sino-Indian War, Lata sang the patriotic song Ae Mere Watan Ke Logon (literally, “Oh, the People of My Country”) in the presence of Jawaharlal Nehru, then the Prime Minister of India. The song, composed by C. Ramchandra and written by Pradeep, is said to have brought the Prime Minister to tears.
In 1963, Mangeshkar returned to collaboration with S. D. Burman, mainly as a result of a truce brokered by Burman’s son and assistant (and her future brother-in-law) R. D. Burman. She recorded several popular songs for S. D. Burman, including Aaj Phir Jeene Ki Tamanna Hai, Gata Rahe Mera Dil (duet with Kishore Kumar) and Piya Tose from Guide (1965), and Hothon Pe Aisi Baat from Jewel Thief (1967).
During the 1960s, Lata Mangeshkar also sang several for one of her favorite composers, Madan Mohan. Some of their notable songs include Aap Ki Nazron Ne Samjha from Anpadh (1962), Lag Ja Gale and Naina Barse Rim Jhim from Woh Kaun Thi? (1964), Woh Chup Rahen To from Jahan Ara (1964), and Tu Jahan Jahan Chalega from Mera Saaya (1966).
The 1960s also witnessed the beginning of Mangeshkar’s association with Laxmikant-Pyarelal, the music directors for whom she sang the most songs in her career. She is considered largely responsible for advancing their music career, including a recording for their first film, Parasmani (1963).
She also sang several playback songs for Marathi films, composed by notable Marathi music directors including Hridaynath Mangeshkar, Vasant Prabhu, Srinivas Khale, Sudhir Phadke and herself (under the name Anandghan). During the 1960s and 1970s, she also sang several popular Bengali songs, composed by music directors like Salil Chowdhury and Hemant Kumar.
Lata Mangeshkar has recorded duets with all the leading male singers of her era, including Mukesh, Manna Dey, Mohammed Rafi, and Kishore Kumar. From the 1960s, she was not on good terms with Mohammed Rafi, the leading male playback singer of that time, over the issue of royalty payments to singers. Lata wanted Rafi to back her in demanding a half-share from the five percent song royalty that the film’s producer conceded to select composers.But Rafi took a diametrically opposite view, and believed that a playback singer’s claim on the filmmaker ended with the payment of the agreed fee for the song. During the recording of the song Tasveer Teri Dil Mein (Maya, 1961), Lata lost her cool with Rafi in a certain passage of the song. Rafi felt belittled, as the music director Salil Chowdhury chose to back Lata.The situation worsened as Lata Mangeshkar declared that she would no longer sing with Rafi. Rafi stated that he was only as keen to sing with Lata as she was with him. Later, at the insistence of S.D.Burman, the two decided to make up and sing duets, but on a personal level, they were not on good terms.
In 1972, Meena Kumari’s last film, Pakeezah was released. It featured popular songs including Chalte Chalte and Inhi Logon Ne sung by Lata Mangeshkar, and composed by Ghulam Mohammed. She recorded many popular songs for S. D. Burman’s last films, including Rangeela Re from Prem Pujari (1970), Khilte Hain Gul Yahaan from Sharmeelee (1971), and Piya Bina from Abhimaan (1973).
Lata Mangeshkar’s most notable songs in 1970s were composed by Laxmikant-Pyarelal (Laxmi-Pyare) and Rahul Dev Burman. She recorded several songs composed by Laxmi-Pyare in 1960s and 1970s, many of them written by the lyricst Anand Bakshi. She also recorded many hit songs with Rahul Dev Burman in the films Amar Prem (1972), Caravan (1971), Kati Patang(1971), and Aandhi (1975). The two are noted for their songs with the lyricists Majrooh Sultanpuri, Anand Bakshi and Gulzar.
In 1973, she won the National Film Award for Best Female Playback Singer for the song Beeti Na Bitai from the film Parichay, composed by R. D. Burman, and written by Gulzar. In 1975, she again won the same award, this time for the song Roothe Roothe Piya from the film Kora Kagaz, composed by Kalyanji-Anandji.
From 1970s onwards, Lata Mangeshkar has also staged many concerts in India and abroad, including several charity concerts. Her first concert overseas was at the Royal Albert Hall, London, in 1974. She also released an album of Mirabai’s bhajans, Chala Vaahi Des, composed by her brother Hridayanath Mangeshkar. Some of the bhajans in the album include Saanware Rang Raachi and Ud Jaa Re Kaaga.
In late 1970s and early 1980s, she worked with the children of composers she had earlier worked with. Some of these composers included Rahul Dev Burman (son of Sachin Dev Burman), Rajesh Roshan (son of Roshan), Anu Malik (son of Sardar Malik), and Anand-Milind (sons of Chitragupt).
1980s onwards, Lata Mangeshkar got selective and cut down on her film singing. She recorded mainly for films by well-known banners, such as Yash Raj Films, and Rajshri Productions. She worked with many new music directors, including Shiv-Hari, Ram Laxman, and A. R. Rahman. She also recorded some non-film songs, including ghazals with Jagjit Singh. In 1981, she recorded her first duet with S P Balasubrahmanyam for the film Ek Duje Ke Liye.
In 1990, Mangeshkar launched her own production house for Hindi movies. Its first (and only movie), Lekin, flopped. However, she won her third National Film Award for Best Female Playback Singer for her song Yaara Sili Sili from the film. During the 1990s, she became very choosy. Some of her songs in this period were with music directors like Jatin-Lalit, Nadeem-Shravan, and more.
Mangeshkar has sung for almost all the Yash Chopra films, and films from his production house Yash Raj Films, including Chandni (1989), Lamhe (1991), Darr (1993), Yeh Dillagi (1994), Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge (1995), Dil To Pagal Hai (1997) and later on Mohabbatein (2000), “Mujhse Dosti Karoge”” (2002) and Veer Zaara (2004). The Yash Raj Films banner’s songs have been known for their romantic melodies identified with Mangeshkar’s voice, and songs such as Kabhi Main Kahun, Hothon Pe Bas , Hogaya Hai Tujhko, Humko Hamise Churalo and Tere Liye have become classics.
A. R. Rahman recorded a few songs with Mangeshkar during this period, the more popular songs include “Jiya Jale” (Dil Se, featuring Preity Zinta), “Khamoshiyan Gungunane Lagin” (One Two Ka Four), “Ek Tu Hi Bharosa” (Pukar), “Pyaara Sa Gaon” (Zubeidaa) and “O Paalanhaare” (Lagaan).
In 1999, Lata Eau De Parfum, a perfume brand named after her, was launched. In 1999, she was nominated as a member of Rajya Sabha. However, she did not attend the Rajya Sabha sessions regularly, inviting criticism from several members of the House, including the Deputy Chairperson Najma Heptullah, Pranab Mukherjee and Shabana Azmi. She stated the reason for her absence as ill-health; it was also reported that she had not taken a salary, allowance or a house in Delhi for being a Member of Parliament.
In 2001, Lata Mangeshkar was awarded Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian honor. In the same year, she established the Master Deenanath Mangeshkar Hospital in Pune, managed by the Lata Mangeshkar Medical Foundation (founded by the Mangeshkar family in October 1989). In 2005, she designed a jewellery collection called Swaranjali, which was crafted by Adora, an Indian diamond export company. Five pieces from the collection raised £105,000 at a Christie’s auction, and a part of the money was donated for the 2005 Pakistan earthquake relief.Also in 2001, she recorded her first Hindi song with the composer Ilaiyaraaja, for the film Lajja (2001); she had earlier recorded Tamil and Telugu songs composed by Ilaiyaraaja.
In 2000s, Lata Mangeshkar, along with other residents of the Peddar Road area in Mumbai, opposed the construction of a flyover in the area, creating a controversy. She believed that construction of the flyover would increase air and noise pollution in the area, and threatened to quit the city if the flyover was built. In 2006, it was reported that she and her sister Asha Bhosle had purchased apartments in Parel and were planning to move out of Peddar Road.
Lata Mangeshkar’s song Wada Na Tod is also heard playing in the background of the film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) and can be found on the film’s soundtrack.
On June 21, 2007, she released an album Saadgi, featuring eight ghazal-like songs written by Javed Akhtar and composed by Mayuresh Pai.
Lata Mangeshkar composed music for the first time in 1955 for movie “Ram Ram Pavhane”. Later in 1960s, she composed music for following Marathi movies under the pseudonym of “Anand Ghan”.
- 1950 – Ram Ram Pavhana
- 1963 – Maratha Tituka Melvava
- 1963 – Mohityanchi Manjula
- 1965 – Sadhi Manase
- 1969 – Tambadi Mati
She won Maharashtra State Government’s Best Music Director Award for the film Sadhi Manase. The song Airanichya deva tula from the same film received best song award.
Lata Mangeshkar has produced four films:
- 1953 – Vaadal (Marathi)
- 1953 – Jhaanjhar (Hindi), co-produced with C. Ramchandra
- 1955 – Kanchan (Hindi)
- 1990 – Lekin (Hindi)
Awards and recognitions
Lata Mangeshkar has won several awards and honors, including Padma Bhushan (1969), Padma Vibhushan (1999), Dada Saheb Phalke Award (1989), Maharashtra Bhushan Award (1997), NTR National Award (1999), Bharat Ratna (2001), three National Film Awards, and 12 Bengal Film Journalists’ Association Awards. She has also won four Filmfare Best Female Playback Awards. In 1969, she made the unusual gesture of giving up the Filmfare Best Female Playback Award, in order to promote fresh talent. She was later awarded [Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award] in 1993.
In 1984, the State Government of Madhya Pradesh instituted the Lata Mangeshkar Award in honor of Lata Mangeshkar. The State Government of Maharashtra also instituted a Lata Mangeshkar Award in 1992.
In 1974, The Guinness Book of Records listed Lata Mangeshkar as the most recorded artist in the history, stating that she had reportedly recorded “not less than 25,000 solo, duet and chorus backed songs in 20 Indian languages” between 1948 and 1974. Her record was contested by Mohammed Rafi, who was claimed to have sung around 28,000 songs. After Rafi’s death, in its 1984 edition, the Guinness Book of World Records stated Lata Mangeshkar’s name for the “Most Recordings”, but also stated Rafi’s claim. The later editions of Guinness Book stated that Lata Mangeshkar had sung no fewer than 30,000 songs between 1948 and 1987.
Although the entry has not been printed in Guinness editions since 1991, reputable sources claim that she has recorded thousands of songs, with estimates ranging up to figures as large as 50,000. However, even the earliest Guinness claim of 25,000 songs (between 1948-1974) was claimed to be exaggerated by other sources, who stated that the number of songs sung by Lata Mangeshkar in Hindustani (Hindi-Urdu films till 1991 was found to be 5250. Mangeshkar herself 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.