By Ashok Shukla
New Delhi: The Queen of Melody — Lata Mangeshkar, also known as the ‘Nightingale of India’, was one of the most versatile singers of the Indian film industry.
In her career spanning over eight decades, she had lent her voice to over 5,000 songs in more than one thousand Hindi and 36 regional films, which include genres such as Filmi, Classical, Ghazals, Bhajans, Folk and Pop.
Over the years, Lata Mangeshkar was the singing voice for leading ladies of Bollywood from Madhubala to Priyanka Chopra. She worked with legendary music directors that include Madan Mohan, RD Burman, Laxmikant-Pyarelal and AR Rahman.
Born in 1929, Lata was the eldest daughter of Pandit Deenanath Mangeshkar, a Marathi and Konkani musician and his wife Shevanti. Lata’s father, a classical singer and theatre actor, started teaching her music at an early age.
By the time she was five, Lata was seen participating as an actor in plays written by her father. The untimely death of her father in 1942 put the onus of supporting the family on her shoulders and she never looked back since then.
Lata Mangeshkar, who moved to Mumbai in 1949, has had an unprecedented impact on Indian film music and received several awards and accolades during her eight-decade-long career. In 1989, she was given the Dadasaheb Phalke Award and the Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian honour in 2001.
The French government conferred her its highest civilian award — Officer of the Legion of Honour in 2007. She has also been honoured with National Film Awards, Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award and Bengal Film Journalists’ Association Awards.
She also holds the distinction of being the most recorded artist in the history of Indian music. Her all four siblings — Meena Khadikar, Asha Bhosle, Usha Mangeshkar and Hridaynath Mangeshkar are also accomplished singers and musicians.