Remembering Lata Mangeshkar: The Life and Times of Queen of Melody

Updated: Feb 06, 2022, 01:25 PM(IST)

Legendary singer and Bharat Ratna recipient Lata Mangeshkar passed away on Sunday in Mumbai. Known as the ‘Nightingale of India’, she has carved her niche with her decade long career. The veteran singer, who started her career as an actor, has sung over 30,000 songs in various languages and was one of the few singers who had given her voice to actresses from several generations.

From the 50's to the 2000s her career spanned over almost 80 years. Now, as the legendary singer left us for her heavenly abode, here we bring you the timeline of her decade long journey.

Star is born

Lata Mangeshkar was born in 1929, the eldest daughter of Deenanath Mangeshkar, a Marathi and Konkani musician and his wife Shevanti in Indore, Madhya Pradesh. Her father, Deenanath Mangeshkar, was a classical singer and theatre actor. Her mother, Shevanti, was a Gujarati woman. 

Lata Ji was the oldest of the siblings, Meena Khadikar, Asha Bhosle, Usha Mangeshkar and Hridaynath Mangeshkar.


Her first teacher

Lata Mangeshkar received her first music lesson from her father Master Dinanath Mangeshkar, who was a musician from Gwalior gharana who ran a drama company. At the age of five, she started to work as an actress in her father's musical plays. 


Started her journey as an actor

Lata Mangeshkar's father Pandit Deenanath Mangeshkar died of heart disease when she was just 13-year old. Taking the burden of her family, she started working In 1942. Master Vinayak 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 and gave her an opportunity to act in a small role and sing in a Marathi movie named 'Pahili Mangalagaur.' 


Her first song

In 1942, Lata sang the song 'Naachu Yaa Gade, Khelu Saari Mani Haus Bhaari', which was composed by Sadashivrao Nevrekar for Vasant Joglekar's Marathi movie 'Kiti Hasaal', but the song was dropped from the final cut.

Later, she worked 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).


Moved to Mumbai

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 Aman Ali Khan of Bhindibazaar Gharana. She sang 'Paa Lagoon Kar Jori' for Vasant Joglekar's Hindi-language movie 'Aap Ki Seva Mein' (1946), which was composed by Datta Davjeka.


Her breakthrough

Now known as the ‘Nightingale of India’, but in the starting of her career, her voice was dismissed as "too thin". Later, music director Ghulam Haider and her mentor after Vinayak's death in 1948,  gave Lata her first major break with the song 'Dil Mera Toda, Mujhe Kahin Ka Na Chhora'—lyrics by Nazim Panipati—in the movie Majboor (1948), which became her first big breakthrough film hit.

One of her first major hits was 'Aayega Aanewaala,' a song in the movie 'Mahal' (1949), composed by music director Khemchand Prakash and lip-synced on screen by actress Madhubala.



Golden career

In her illustrious career, Lata Mangeskar  sang memorable and popular songs in such films as Pakeezah, Majboor, Awaara, Mughal e Zam, Shree 420, Aradhana and Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge. 

From 50s- 2000s, Lata sang songs composed by various music directors, from 1951 movie 'Tarana' to working with Bollywood's first superstar Rajesh Khanna to singing song for Shah Rukh Khan's superhit movie 'Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge.

She also sang several playback songs for Marathi films and made her Kannada debut in 1967 for the film Kranthiveera Sangolli Rayanna by recording two songs for the music director Lakshman Berlekar' 



Lata Mangeskar received several accolades and honours throughout her career. In 1987 The Dadasaheb Phalke Award was bestowed on her by the Government of India. In 2001, in recognition of her contributions to the nation, she was awarded the Bharat Ratna, India's highest civilian honour and is only the second vocalist, after M. S. Subbulakshmi, to receive this honour. France conferred on her its highest civilian award, the Officer of the Legion of Honour, in 2007.


Read in App