Lata Mangeshkar, a name that needs no introduction. A singer par excellence’, however there are very few of us who know her struggles and tribulations that came with being – Bharat Ratna Lata Mangeshkar. The numerous awards and accolades stand testament to the sheer hard work and perseverance of the human spirit. It’s time to delve into the life and early days of her career, her life and her formative years that gave birth to the legend she is today.
Born into a Marathi family she was one of five children. Her father, Dinanatha Mangeshkar used to write and direct musical plays. From a very early age of five she was an active participant of her father’s productions. She was classically trained in the art of singing and was inspired by the voice and style of K.L. Saigal, a legend of the former years of Indian Cinema. A sudden demise of her father left her the sole earning member at the delicate age of 13. Having the family financial responsibility on her slender shoulders she set out to earn a living doing what she knew best – singing.
It was not a bedecked welcome into the Indian Film Industry for someone so gifted. Lata Mangeshkar too was put through her paces while she took on roles as an actor along with singing. It was the year of 1942 when she sang her first song in a Marathi movie, however the song was dropped before the movie even released. It was only in the year 1945 when she got a small foothold into the industry when she moved to the city of Mumbai. It was after numerous rejections and being told her voice was not good enough that she landed her first song in the Hindi Film Industry. She, often than not, would imitate singers of the industry at that time, like Noor Jahan, just to appease the music directors at the time.
The year 1949 brought her luck and what a turn it was. The song “ayega anewala”, for a movie Madhubala was acting in became a chart topper. After the first strong hold in the industry there was just no looking back. She went on from strength to strength, lending her voice to actors from Madhubala to Preity Zinta! Her rendition of the famous “Ae Mere Watan ke Logon” moved our then Prime Minister Jawahar Lala Nehru to tears. The song, even today invokes deep emotions of patriotism from one and all who hear it. Over the years she has collaborated with many music directors and play back singers giving us many memorable melodies of Indian Cinema.
She has won many awards and laurels over the years including the Padma Bhushan (1976), the Dada Saheb Phalke Award (1989) and the highest civilian award given in the country the Bharat Ratna in 2001. Due to her sheer dedication and determination and a never give up attitude all through her life she truly embodies the title – the Nightingale of India.