There are some diamonds in Bollywood, without them Bollywood is incomplete and Bharat Ratna Lata Mangeshkar is one of them. Born in 1929, the Lata didi, whose voice is known by millions of Indians and Bollywood fans turns 87, on September 28th.
Her soulful voice makes her, the greatest Indian singer ever. She’s also known as Nightingale. Perhaps the roots of artistic greatness were moved into her family’s DNA as her father Late Dinanath Mangeshkar was a singer and theater actor and all four of her sibling are also renowned playback singers. Her most popular sibling is Asha Bhosle, possibly the only female singer practically as famous and fortunate as Lata Tai.
Singing in more than 35 Indian languages over half a century, Lata Mangeshkar has displayed a family name across the nation. Although she commenced her career in 1942 with the number ‘Mata Ek Sapoot Ki Duniya Badal De Tu” in a Marathi film named Gajaabhaau, her first major Bollywood debut was with the song ‘Dil Mera Toda, Mujhe Kahin Ka Na Chhora’ for the film Majboor in 1948.
After the success of this song, Lata Tai, didn’t look back again. Within couple of years of her bright singing career, she became the Nightingale of India.
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Awarded with Bharat Ratna in 2001, Padma Bhushan in 1996 and Padma Vibhushan in 1999, these grants are enough for one to realize the kind of respect India has given to Lata Tai. However, according to Tai, it is only the eternal love from her die-hard fans and admiration and respect from each and every section of the country that has made her the ‘Nightingale’.
As she turned 87 on September 28th, Here’s is something lesser known facts about Lata Mangeshkar:
#1 Lata Mangeshkar’s original surname was Hardikar. Her father Deenanath replaced the surname from Hardikar to Mangeshkar in order to recognize the family with their mother place Mangeshi in Goa.
#2 She was named as Hema Mangeshkar but was later rechristened as Lata after a figure named Latika in one of her father’s drama play.
#3 She commenced singing at a young age of 5 years. She studied music under the guidance of Aman Ali Khan Sahib and Amanat Khan. These people were established singers of that time. Her voice was judged too thin for the playback singing at that time.
#4 At the commencement of her career, when voices such as Noor Jehan and Shamshad Begum were governing Bollywood, Lata handled many dismissals. One such incident appeared with famous producer Sashadhar Mukherjee. Mukherjee didn’t want Lata to sing as her voice was too thin!
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#5 She debuted as a singer in 1942 in a Marathi movie. Between 1942 and 1948 she played in as many as 8 films in Hindi and Marathi.
#6 Since most of the Bollywood film lyrics at that time was in Urdu, Lata observed the pronunciations a little uncomfortable. It was the time when Dilip Kumar did a small remark on her pronunciations that Lata learned Urdu lessons. When she next sang for Dilip Kumar, her Urdu was so accurate that Dilip Kumar was taken aback. They linked as friends and Lata started to tie a Rakhi to Dilip Kumar every year till date.
#7 She was listed to be poisoned in 1962 allegedly by her family cook. She was bedridden for around three months but improved after that.
#8 It is said that she moved India’s first Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru to tears when she sang the song ‘Aye Mere Watan Ke Logon’. This incident occurred in 1962 when India lost to China in Indo-China war.
#9 While Lata sang for every distinguished music director during her career, one person denied to work with her. Music maestro O.P. Nayyar who gave the enduring melodies for such movies as Kashmir Ki Kali claimed her ‘thin voice’ did not suit his style. This is seriously a loss for Bollywood and we can only imagine what magic these two would have created.
#10 Lata Mangeshkar motivated the rise and acceptance of Indian music in the UK by being the first Indian called to sing at the Royal Albert Hall. Bollywood fans from all over Europe, Indians and Pakistanis bought every ticket available and she sang to a packed house.
#11 Lata Tai reportedly used to eats chillies to keep her voice musical. Strange as it appears, it seems to have served and she still has the musical voice of a woman same as one-fourth of her age!
#12 For almost over 3 years, Lata Mangeshkar and Mohammed Rafi were at cold war. They have sung numerous songs together but noticed themselves on the different sides of an argument to do with offering royalties to singers rather than just flat payments. Lata’s insistence on royalties was not supported by Mohd Rafi and though they proceeded to work together but they kept their distance.
#13 She owned the Guinness World Record for the most recorded artist in the world from 1974 to 1991. Now, her sister Asha Bhosle carries it!
#14 Yash Chopra, the legendary director, promised Lata that she would sing in each and every movie of Yash Raj Films. He nearly lived up to this promise.
#15 Two of Lata Tai’s songs from the movie Dil Tujhko Diya – Tera Sang Pyaar Mein and Wada Na Tod – were applied as background score in the movie ‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)’ starring Jim Carrey.
84 years of passionate living out of which nearly 60 years have been dedicated to the music industry makes Lata Tai’s contribution endless. We wish her a long life, health, and happiness ahead!