Lata Mangeshkar, a receiver of the Bharat Ratna, Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan and Dadasaheb Phalke Awards, is an emblem of Indian cinema and music, having sung playback for an extensive list of Hindi films; she has also sung in several regional languages including Marathi and Bengali. Lata Di, belongs to a prominent musical family, has also composed music as well as produced a handful of films. Lata Di, born in 1929, is the eldest of five siblings. Their father Pandit Deenanath Mangeshkar was classical musician, who gave the young Lata Mangeshkar her first music lesson. In 1942, when her father died, 13-year-old Lata Mangeshkar began her career in music, juggling singing with acting parts in Marathi films. In 1945, she had an early hit in the song ‘Aayega Aanewala’ from the film Mahal, starring Madhubala. From there, Lata Mangeshkar’s voice and career flew to the greatest of heights. She sang raga-based compositions by Naushad in films like Baiju Bawra, Mother India and Mughal-E-Azam, Shankar-Jaikishan’s melodic hits in Barsaat and Shree 420; Salil Chowdhury’s lilting tracks in Madhumati won her a Filmfare Award for Best Female Playback Singer; three more Filmfare Awards came by way of Bees Saal Baad, Khandan and Jeene Ki Raah. Lata Mangeshkar won three National Awards for Best Female Playback Singer for the films Parichay, Kora Kagaz and Lekin. Other memorable films in her credits include Pakeezah, Abhimaan, Amar Prem, Aandhi, Silsila, Chandni, Sagar, Rudali and Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge.
Among Lata Mangeshkar’s most iconic songs is the patriotic composition ‘Aye Mere Watan Ke Logo’; the song, commemorating Indian soldiers who died in the 1962 war with China, was performed on Republic Day in 1963 at the National Stadium in New Delhi. Lata Mangeshkar sang it live in the presence of President S Radhakrishnan and Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. Lata Mangeshkar has composed music for a handful of Marathi films, winning the Maharashtra State Government’s award for Best Music Director in 1965 for the film Sadhi Manase. She has also produced some films, among them 1990’s Lekin, for which she also sang.
Her father, Pandit Deenanath Mangeshkar, was a classical singer and theatre actor. Her mother, Shevanti (later renamed Shudhamati), a Gujarati woman from Thalner, Bombay Presidency (now in northwest Maharashtra), was Deenanath’s second wife; his first wife Narmada, who had died, was Shevanti’s elder sister. In 1942, when Lata was 13, her father died of heart disease. Master Vinayak (Vinayak Damodar Karnataki), the owner of Navyug Chitrapat Movie Company and a close friend of the Mangeshkar family, took care of them. He helped Lata to get started in a career as a singer and actress. Lata’s paternal grandfather, Ganesh Bhatt Navathe Hardikar (Abhisheki), was a Karhade Brahmin priest who performed the abhishekam of the Shiva lingam at the Mangueshi Temple in Goa, and her paternal grandmother, Yesubai Rane, belonged to the Gomantak Maratha Samaj community of Goa. Lata’s maternal grandfather was Gujarati businessman Seth Haridas Ramdas Lad, a prosperous businessman and landlord of Thalner; and Mangeshkar learnt Gujarati folk songs such as garbas of Pavagadh from her maternal grandmother.
The family’s last name used to be Hardikar; Deenanath changed it to Mangeshkar in order to identify his family with his native town, Mangeshi in Goa. Lata named “Hema” at her birth. Her parents later renamed her Lata after a female character, Latika, in one of her father’s plays, Bhaaw Bandhan. Lata the eldest child of the family, Meena, Asha, Usha, and Hridaynath, in birth order, are her siblings, all accomplished singers and musicians.
Lata Mangeshkar is one of the best singers of the Hindi film industry. She is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the most recorded artist in the world. She started her career in 1942 and has spanned over seven decades. She also has the credit of having sung in over thirty-six regional Indian languages and foreign languages. Lived her 90 years of age by giving so many good memories, music and films to the people of India. With growing age, health takes back seat, she is unwell and fans wishing her a faster recovery, hoping for her stable health and early recovery.
By Jaya Manohar