Left unparalleled oeuvre behind; Here is the journey of Indian Nightingale Lata Mangeshkar

by Shatakshi Gupta

Legendary singer and a gem of India, Lata Mangeshkar has left the world leaving behind her phenomenal legacy. 92-year-old syllables queen passed away on February 6 at Breachcandy Hospital in Mumbai.

Bharat Ratna awardee, Lata Mangeshkar was cremated with full state honours at Mumbai’s iconic Shivaji Park bringing an end to a splendid and unmatchable career spanning seven decades. Here we will see the journey of a 13-year-old girl who lost her father and became worldwide fame in her lifetime.

Lata Mangeshkar was one of the most iconic playback singers of India who has sung many film and album songs. Atleast four generations listened to her music. She has sung songs in more than 36 languages which is a record in itself. First PM Jawaharlal Nehru gave her the title of ‘ Swar Kokila’, which was an apt sobriquet.

Early life:

Lata Mangeshkar was born on 28 September 1929 in Indore, Madhya Pradesh. She was the eldest daughter of Pandit Deenanath Mangeshkar and Shevanti. Lata’s father Pandit Deenanath Mangeshkar was a Marathi musician, classical singer and theatre actor while her mother came from a Gujarati background.

In 1942, an unfortunate turn came in Lata’s life, when her father died. Lata was only 13 years old at this time. The burden of the family fell on Lata. Master Vinayak, owner of Navyug Chitrapat Movie Company, close people of the Mangeshkar family helped Lata to build her career as a singer and actress.

A glorious career:

Lata did not like acting, but due to financial constraints, she acted in some Hindi and Marathi films. Later, she shifted to Mumbai in 1945 and after that, her career started taking shape. In Mumbai, she learned Indian classical music from Ustad Aman Ali Khan of Bhindi Bazar Gharana.

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 Lata came in contact with musicians like Vasant Desai and Ghulam Haider and her career started picking up. Her mentor slave Haider took Lata to veteran filmmaker Shashadhar Mukherjee who was then making a film called ‘Shaheed’  in 1948. Haider recommends to Mukherjee to take Lata. After listening to Lata, Mukherjee refuses to accept her, saying that her voice is too thin. 

 However, in due course of time, things turned good and Lata sang some famous song ‘Dil Mera Toda, Mujhe Kahin Ka Na Chhoda’ in ‘Majboor’. This song was the first hit song of the upcoming Indian sensation.

Experimented with styles:

When Lata Ji entered the industry, themusic industry was dominated byplayback singers like Noor Jahan, Shamshad Begum. Young lata was also inspired by these singers and she used to sing in the same style. However, she had to develop her own style if she wanted to move forward and that’s what she did. He learned pronunciation of Hindi and Urdu. She filled expressions in her melodies.

Dominated industry after 1960s

The period from 1950 to 1970 is considered to be the finest for Indian film music. When there was no dearth of fine singers, composers, lyricists and filmmakers. Together they composed classic movies and music.

From the late 1950s, Lata dominated the playback singing in Indian cinema for a few decades. Her melodious hymns made few films popular. In her long career, she gave soulful songs for every occasion.

The extent of her success could be gauged with the fact that she herself did not know how many songs she sang as she did not keep any records. Taking the audacity to estimate, Lata has given her voice in about 5 to 6 thousand songs in her lifetime.


Lata always kept herself away from controversies. However, among a few, She had a rift with Sachin Dev Burman once and the two did not work together for five years. Similarly, Mohammed Rafi and Lata could not agree on the royalty of the songs and they also did not sing together for some time. She had a minor dispute with C. Ramachandra and OP Nayyar as well. However, it would be better to call them a tussle rather than a dispute, which usually happens between the people working together.


 Besides, an attempt was made to kill Lata in the year 1962. One day when Lata woke up in the morning, she felt severe pain in her stomach. Her condition was such that she started having trouble even in moving from his place. Lata Ji was given slow poison. Although, it is a mystery to everyone to date that who tried to kill her.

 How her wall of fame was like?

 Lata Mangeshkar received many awards and honours. It was so much so that after 1970, she told Filmfare that she would not take the Best Singer award and that it should be given to new singers instead. The major honors and awards received by Lata are as follows:

  • Bharat Ratna in 2001
  • Padma Vibhushan in 1999
  • Padma Bhushan in 1969
  • Dadasaheb Phalke in Award 1989

Besides, she got various National Film Award and Filmfare awards.

  • National Film Award for Best Female Playback Singer for songs from the film Pari in 1972
  • National Film Award for Best Female Playback Singer for songs from the film Kora Kagaz 1974
  • National Film Award for Best Female Playback Singer for songs from the film Lekin in 1990.

She also got a Black lady for multiple times. Apart from these awards, Lata ji was conferred with uncountable regional state and academy awards.