Lata Mangeshkar has reigned Bollywood as the lead singer for the longest, since her entry in 1942 at the age of 13. Though the song she sang for a Marathi film was dropped, Mangeshkar was destined to become one of the most popular singers with her hard work and a voice like a nightingale’s.
Lata Mangeshkar was born in a family of artists. Her father ran a theatre company, while she and her sister Asha Bhosle grew up learning music. They were trained in classical music and soon their father recognised both their talent.
Mangeshkar lost her father in her teenage years and moved to Mumbai. There, she met Master Vinayak, who was a filmmaker in his 30s. Master Vinayak trained her. After he passed away, Mangeshkar was trained by Ghulam Haider. She progressed towards a career in cinema as a playback singer and she recorded her first song for a Marathi film in 1942, which was later dropped from the album. She was 13-years-old back then.
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But this was just a hiccup. She recorded songs for thousands of films and in 36 regional languages. She sang her best one for music directors like SD Burman, Naushad Ali and Anil Biswas. She ruled the industry and there was no one other like her, except her sister Bhosle, who also joined her.
Since then she has been the recipient of the awards like Bharat Ratna and three National Film Awards. In 2007, she was awarded the Highest Civilian Award of France, Officer of the Legion of Honour. In 2016, her contribution to Bengali music was recognised by the Chief Minister of Bengal Mamata Banerjee, who awarded her the state’s highest civilian award- Bangla Bibhushan.
From devotional songs like Allah Tero Naam for the film Hum Dono (1961) to catchy tunes like Didi Tera Deewar Deewana from the film Hum Aapke Hain Koun…! (1994), she has every tune in her volume of talent. These are old songs but hardly forgotten. If one is walking on the streets of Kolkata, one may hear the tune of her songs either drifting from a recorders corner or paan shops. Likewise is the case for other cities, towns and villages of India.
She recorded her last song in 2015. In this entire duration, it is reportedly said that Bhosle and she had taken monopoly over Bollywood and there was hardly any space for any other singer.
Although, at the beginning of her career, it was reportedly said that she copied the style of Noor Jehan, who later decided to move to Lahore. But in the coming years, Mangeshkar developed a tune and a style for herself, when was later followed and inspired thousands in India and across the world.
In 1974, she was mentioned in the Guinness Book of World Records for the most recorded artist. The legendary singer’s favourite artist was Madan Mohan, with whom she reportedly had a brother-sister sort of relationship.