Farewell to the Nightingale of India

A look back at Lata Mangeshkar’s illustrious career

Legendary singer Lata Mangeshkar passed away today at the age of 92. India's Nightingale mesmerised everyone with her golden voice.

In a career spanning over seven decades, Mangeshkar delivered memorable hits that have left a mark on the Indian music industry. Her mellifluous voice has won over the hearts of every Bengali with romantic tracks such as "Ja re Jare Ure Jare Pakhi", "Oh Mor Moyna Go", "Na Mon Lage Na", among others.

The renowned singer was born on September 28, 1929 to Marathi musician Pandit Deenanath Mangeshkar and Shevanti in Indore. She was the oldest of the siblings, Meena Khadikar, Asha Bhosle, Usha Mangeshkar and Hridaynath Mangeshkar. She was originally named Hema, but her father changed it to Lata, after a character in one of his plays.

Pandit Deenanath Mangeshkar gave 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.

From an early age, Lata Mangeshkar was keen on learning about music and thus she studied fine art of music with Aman Ali Khan Sahib and Amanat Khan, celebrated singers of her time. 

Lata Mangeshkar
Lata Mangeshkar in studio. Photo: Collected

Lata Mangeshkar's debut song "Nachu Yaa Gade, Khelu Saari Mani Haus Bhaari' for Marathi film "Kiti Hasaal" (1942) was dropped from the final cut of the film. She went on to deliver some of the biggest musical hits, and will be fondly remembered for her contribution to the field. 

The singing legend had to face plenty of hardships. She struggled to find acceptance in the industry, and was often criticised by producers for her Maharashtrian accent. As Urdu had a huge influence on the music industry, Lata took Urdu lessons as well.

In 1945, Ms Mangeshkar had an early hit in the song "Aayega Aanewala" from the film "Mahal", starring Madhubala. From there, Lata Mangeshkar's voice and career soared to the greatest of heights.

She won critical acclaim for her songs, "Pyar Kiya To Darna Kya" from "Mughal-e-Azam" (1960), and "Ajeeb Dastaan Hai Yeh" from "Dil Apna Preet Parai" (1960) won her critical acclaim.

Between 1950 and well into the 2000s, Lata Mangeshkar lent her voice to scores of actors in not only Hindi and Marathi movies, but in languages as diverse as Bangla (in which she sang nearly 200 songs), Assamese, Gujarati, Tamil, Kannada, Telugu and Bhojpuri, among at least 25 others. Her career spanned from being Madhubala's voice in the late 1940s to singing a devotional song picturised on Mugdha Godse in 2009, when Mangeshkar turned 80.

Many celebrities like Amitabh Bachchan, Shraddha Kapoor, Sachin Tendulkar, Sanjay Leela Bhansali and others had reached her residence to pay their last respects. Her funeral took place at Dadar's Shivaji Park. The legendary singer has been laid to rest with state honours. 

Throughout her illustrious career, Lata Mangeskar has been honoured with the Bharat Ratna award, the Dadasaheb Phalke award, the French Legion of Honour, five Maharashtra state film awards, three National Film awards, and countless other honours and citations, making her easily the one of the most  influential Indian playback singers of all time.  



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