Singing legend of India is no more | Sunday Observer
Lata Mangeshkar

Singing legend of India is no more

13 February, 2022

Lata Mangeshkar whom the whole world hails as the Nightingale of India departed from our midst at the age of 93. Her melodious voice, with which many generations lived, vanished into the sky. Now we feel that the India's music industry is like a desert.

Her dulcet voice enriched with all intrinsic qualities like tenderness, sweetness and softness touched the deepest corner of our hearts. Millions of people have been bewitched by her mesmerising voice. Indeed, India lost the pearl of their music industry on February 6, 2022. That news left the whole world dumbfounded.


Born with a God-given mesmerising voice on September 28, 1929 in Indore as Hema Mangeshkar, she reigned in the music industry for 7 decades. Later she was rechristened as Lata. Being the eldest in the family she had to look after her siblings Meena, Asha, Usha and Hridaynath. Little Lata went to school with her younger sister Asha.

But the class teacher did not want Lata to come with another child. Therefore, Lata decided not to go to school.

Her father Deenanath Mangeshkar was a classical singer by profession. Her mother Shevanti is a Gujarati woman. Lata learned music from her father when he was providing music classes for children. To her father's amazement, he spotted her daughter Lata correcting and teaching one of his students. Her father realised that Lata would climb the ladder of success in the music field one day.

Back in 1942 her beloved father went on a journey of no return. Fortunately, the owner of the Navyug Chitrapat movie Master Vinayak took care of Lata and her family. As time passed, she received an opportunity to sing the song "Naachu Yaa Gade Khelu Sari Manii Hausu Bari " for a Maarathi movie titled Kiti Hasaal.

Master Vinayak enrolled her as the staff artiste on a monthly salary of Rs. 60. She wanted to find a Guru to learn music. Then, she found Aman Ali Khan Bhindi Bazarwala. She entered the Hindi film arena with "Paa Laagun Karjori." Unfortunately, due to several reasons, Parafull pictures was closed. Lata became jobless again.

Sadly in 1948 Vinayak passed away. After his death, Lata met master Ghulam Haider who discerned Lata's capacity. He introduced Lata to Subodh Mukerjee but he rejected her saying that "The poor little thing had a squeaky voice." Having been disappointed by him, Ghulam Haider said Lata, "The day is not far off when producers and directors will fall at your feet".

When Haider and Lata were waiting for a train, Haider asked her to sing Bulbulo Mat Ro. "Lata began to sing the song. Haider kept on tapping on a tin of 555 cigarettes. It is Ghulam Haider who gave Lata her first major break with the song "Dil Mera Toda Mujhe Kahin Ka na Chora" in the movie "Majboor."

Lata Mangeshkar had declared, "Ghulam Haider is truly my god father. He was the first music director who showed complete faith in my talent." As noted by some critics, she had followed Noor Jehan's style before developing her own style of singing.

In 1950 Mangeshkar sang songs by musicians like Anil Biswas for films like Tarana. In India you will find no music directors who had not worked work with Lata Mangeshkar. Most music directors including Shankar Jaikishan, Naushad Ali, S. D. Burman, Sardul Singhe Kwatra, Amarnath, Husanlal, Bhagatra had worked with her in this musical journey.

She had sung many Raga based songs for Naushad in films such as Deedar (1951), Baiju Bawra ( 1952) and "Amar" (1954). In 1955 she sang a Sinhala song "Ma Priyadara Jayabhumi" composed by Ananda Samarakoon for the Sinhala film "Seda sulang." Lata Mangeshkar went on to win the Zee Cine Award for lifetime achievement. In the year 2001 she was awarded the Bharat Ratna Award which is regarded as the India's highest civilian honour.

On January, 27, 1963 Lata Mangeshkar had sung a patriotic song "Aye Mere Watan Ke logo" in the presence of Jawaharlal Nehru against the Sino-India wars.

Amazingly, on hearing the song, Neru had shed tears. Back in 1963, she collaborated with S. D Burman and sang songs in R. D Burman's first film. In 1972 Meena Kumari's last film "Pakeezah" was released. The film song "Chalte Chalte" was sung by Lata.

Back in 1973 Lata Mangeshkar won the National Award for the best female playback singer for the song "Beeti Na Bitai". Moreover, she had made history by becoming the first Indian artiste to stage a concert at the Royal Albert Hall, London in 1974. Not only that, in 1990 she launched her own production house for Hindi movies.

She won the third National Film Award for the best female playback singer for the song "Yaara Sili sili".

Voice against injustice

Being quick-witted and bold-hearted, Lata Mangeshkar raised her voice against injustice. Musicians could receive royalties but singers had to be content only with an insufficient remuneration. As a result, many singers were left empty handed and forced to a hand to mouth existence.

Mohammed Rafi too was of the same view that only the musicians should receive royalties because singers do not have the right on the song. In this backdrop Lata Mangeshkar wanted to save the singers' dignity. Her opinion was inconsistent with Mohammed Rafi's. Mohammed Rafi went berserk with Lata Mangeshkar's opinion and refused to work with her.

The displeasure between Rafi and Lata lasted for 4 years. In the end, music composers including Rafi Sahib and Jaikishan wrote a letter and apologised to her. In the year 1967 both began to sing songs again.

There are more than 30,000 songs embellished by her melodious voice in different languages such as Hindi, Bengali, Urdu, Telugu, Bhojpuri, Sinhala, English, Dutch, Russian, Swahili and so on.

She had said thus, "My voice is a gift from God. When I sang a lullaby I became a mother. When it was a romantic song I was a lover." Her God- gifted melodious voice became a vibrant ray of light for the India's music Industry.

Regrettably, the Covid-19 spectre snatched the glory of the India's music industry, creating an irrepressible void in the music world. The name Lata Mangeshkar will be in our hearts forever as a melodious tune.