Lata Mangeshkar is one of the best known Indian playback singers. She is said to have sung songs in 36 Indian and foreign languages. Singing professionally from the age of 13, Lata has lent her voice to four generations of Bollywood actresses. Let’s put a spotlight on her personal and professional life journey.
Lata Mangeshkar was born on 28 September 1929 (age 89 years; as in 2018) in Indore, Indore City, Central India Agency, British India. She was born as ‘Hema’, but was later renamed Lata by her parents, after the female character Latika in one of her father’s play, ‘BhaawBhandhan.’ Lata was inclined towards music from a very young age. On her very first day of school, she started teaching songs to the children and when teachers intervened, she got so annoyed that she stopped going to school.
Lata took her first lesson in music from her father, Deenanath Mangeshkar. At the age of 5, she started working as an actress in her father’s musical plays.
In 1942, when she was just 13, her father died of heart disease. It was then that Master Vinayak, a close friend of her father, took care of her family and helped Lata start a career as an actress and singer.
Height: 5’ 1”
Weight: 63 kg
Eye Colour: Black
Hair Colour: Salt & Pepper
Family, Caste & Husband
Lata was born into a Marathi Hindu family. Her father, Pandit Deenanath Mangeshkar, was a classical singer and theatre actor and her mother, Shevanti, a Gujarati woman, was the second wife of her father.
She has a younger brother Hridaynath Mangeshkar and 3 younger sisters, Meena Khadikar, Asha Bhosle, and Usha Mangeshkar.
The family’s surname was earlier Hardikar which was later changed to Mangeshkar by her father as he wanted to identify his family with his native town of Mangeshi in Goa.
She is unmarried but was romantically linked to music director Bhupen Hazarika allegedly.
Mangeshkar sang her first song, “Naachu Yaa Gade, Khelu Saari Mani Haus Bhaari” for the Marathi film, “Kitni Hasaal” in 1942. However, the song was dropped from the final cut. She played a minor role in Navyug Chitrapat’s Marathi movie Pahili Mangalaa-gaur, in which she also made her singing debut with “Natali Chaitraachi Navalaai”. In 1943, she sang her first Hindi song “Mata Ek Sapoot Ki Duniya Badal De Tu” for the Marathi film Gajaabhaau.
She moved to Mumbai in 1945 and started taking classical music lessons from Ustad Amanat Ali Khan. Lata, along with her sister Asha played small roles in Vinayak’s first Hindi movie, Badi Maa (1945). In that movie, she also sang a bhajan, “Maata Tere Charnon Mein.”
In her initial days, she faced many rejections as the composers found her voice too thin and sharp. It was later, under the guidance of Ghulam Haider that Mangeshkar received her first breakthrough ‘Dil Mera Toda, Mujhe Kahin Ka Na Chhora’ from the movie Majboor (1948).
Mangeshkar gained a lot of popularity after singing ‘Ayega Anewala’ presented on-screen by actress Madhubala in the film Mahal. It was the turning point in her life as she started to get work from all the leading music directors of the time. She did playback singing for directors like S. D. Burman, Salil Chowdhury, Naushad, Shankar Jaikishan, Madan Mohan, Kalyanki-Anandji, Khayyam and Pandit Amarnath Husanlal Bhagat Ram.
During the 1950s, Lata sang for successful films like Mother India, Devdas and Chori Chori and also won her first Filmfare for Best Female Playback singer for the song ‘Aaja Re Pardesi’ from the film Madhumati.
She sang songs of different genres for several music directors. From western songs like ‘Ajeeb Dastan Hain Yeh’ to Ragas (Mohe Bhool Gaye Saawariya) and Bhajans (Allah Tero Naam), she sang them all with utter beauty. In the 1960s, Lata was the voice behind the most glamorous actresses of the time. On 27 January 1963, Mangeshkar moved dignitaries like Jawaharlal Nehru to tears with her rendition of the patriotic song, ‘Ae Mere Watan Ke Logon.’
Lata collaborated with prominent male playback singers like Kishore Kumar, Hemant Kumar, Mukesh, Mahendra Kapoor, Manna Dey and Mohammed Rafi for various songs. Her duets with Kishore Kumar like ‘Kora Kagaz’, ‘Tere Bina Zindagi Se’ and Aap Ki Aakhon Me’ spelt some unforgettable musical magic.
Apart from her singing she also composed music for Marathi movies, Ram Ram Pavane, Maratha Tituka Melvana, Mohityanchi Manjula, Sadhi Manase and Tambadi Mati. Lata has also produced three Hindi films namely, Jhaanjhar (1953), Kanchan (1955), Lekin (1990) and one Marathi film titled Vaadal (1953).
In the 1990s, she gradually reduced the volume of her work owing to health issues, singing only selective songs.
- Lata Mangeshkar refused to work with composer S.D. Burman for 7 years after he allegedly took credit for building her career.
- In the year 1962, a rift developed between Lata Mangeshkar and Mohammad Rafi over the royalty issue. Lata wanted a share in the music albums while Rafi advocated for the salary only.
Awards & Honours
- National Award for Best Female Playback Singer for Paricha (1972)
- National Award for Best Female Playback Singer for Kora Kagaz (1974)
- National Award for Best Female Playback Singer for Lekin (1990)
- Filmfare Award for Best Female Playback Singer for Kahin Deep Jale Kahin Dil (1963)
- Filmfare Award for Best Female Playback Singer for Tumhi Mere Mandir Tumhi Meri Pooja (1966)
- Filmfare Award for Best Female Playback Singer for Aap Mujhe Achhe Lagne Lage (1970)
- Padma Bhushan (1969)
- Padam Vibhushan (1999)
- Filmfare Special Award for Didi Tera Devar Deewana (1995)
- One Time Award for Lifetime Achievement to commemorate the 60th anniversary of India’s independence
- 15 Bengal Film Journalists’ Association Awards
- Lata prefers eating spicy food and drinking Coca-Cola.
- She likes watching Cricket and Sachin Tendulkar is her favourite cricketer.
- Atal Bihari Vajpayee is her favourite politician.
- Kismet (1943) and James Bond Series are her all-time favourite movies.
- She loves to work with music directors, Ghulam Haider, Madan Mohan, Laxmikant Pyarelal, and A. R. Rahman.
- Amitabh Bachchan, Dilip Kumar, and Dev Anand are her favourite actors.
- She owns a Mercedes Benz car.
- Mangeshkar declared Ghulam Haidar as her true Godfather.
- During her initial days in singing, Lata imitated the singer, Noor Jehan. However, later she developed her own style.
- She was bed-ridden for about 3 months after having received slow poison from some mysterious source. However, she survived.
- Mangeshkar is fondly referred to as the Nightingale of India.
- Meeting K.L. Saigal and singing for Dilip Kumar has been her unfulfilled desires.
- Lata hates wearing any makeup.
- Mangeshkar has sung more than 50,000 songs in 36 different languages.
- Lata monopolized the Filmfare awards for the Best Playback Singer from 1958 to 1966. She ended this in 1969, by giving up Filmfare awards in order to promote fresh talents.