Did you know this about Lata Mangeshkar? Part 1

Lata Mangeshkar had an incredible musical journey of almost 80 years. Photo: Publicity Photo

Bharat Ratna Lata Mangeshkar, who died February 6 at 8.12 a.m. IST of multi-organ failure, was considered no less than an incarnation of Goddess Saraswati. She was 92, having been born on September 28, 1929.

Famous all over the globe, she was in films from a tender age as a child actor and singer and recorded her last song, Saugandh mujhe is mitti ki, as a tribute to the Indian Army, in March 2019 at the age of 90!

Here are some lesser-known facts about the Nightingale of India:

Lata Mangeshkar is the eldest child of Dinanath Mangeshkar and his half-Gujarati wife Shevanti (“Mai”).  Dinanath’s father Ganeshbhatt was said to have such a powerful voice that when he gave religious discourses at the Mangeshi temple in Goa, no loudspeakers were needed.

Dinanath was also an amateur astrologer, and had told a colleague even before Lata was born, “The child who will be born to me now will have some divine propensity.”

The family surname was Hardikar, but Dinanath adopted the name ‘Mangeshkar’, to signify that he was the kar (hand) of his family deity, Lord Mangesh.

Lata Mangeshkar would sit with her father from the age of four, listening with total attention as he went through his daily musical practice (riyaaz) and when he taught his students.

Lata learnt music with a taanpura and made her stage debut at the age of 8, playing Naarad Muni in her father’s stage adaptation of the Marathi musical classic, Saubhadra.

At 13, with the passing away of Dinanath, Lata went to work as a child artiste in a film company and made her debut as a film actress the same year in the Marathi film Pahili Mangalagaur. She also sang her first song, Natalee chaitraachi navalayee in it.

At 17, she made her Hindi debut as actress-singer in Badi Maa (1946), though she had earlier sung a Hindi song, Mata ek sapoot ki duniya badal de tu in the Marathi film Gajabhau in 1944, in which she also acted.

But as these early songs were enacted by her too, and so her first playback song Paa laagu kar jori re in the 1947 Aap Ki Sewa Mein is considered her first.

She took it as a challenge when Dilip Kumar scoffed at the idea of a Maharashtrian singing well in Urdu and Hindi and mastered both the languages, learning Urdu from a moulvi (Muslim priest). And soon, her lovely voice made the prevalent thick-voiced singers passé.

She soon became the foremost name known from Indian cinema abroad, alongside Satyajit Ray.

From the 1980s, Lata began to curtail her recordings as she became busy with shows and tours, and busy composers had to opt for upcoming singers. But they preferred singers who sang in her mould, like Alka Yagnik, Anuradha Paudwal and Sadhana Sargam.


In female duets, most composers preferred to pitch her up with siblings Asha Bhosle (over 70 duets) and Usha Mangeshkar. Her repertoire included a stunning 1100 songs-plus under just two composers – Laxmikant-Pyarelal (more than 700) and Shankar Jaikishan (over 400). This accounts for almost 20 percent of her total tally!

Around 2015, she even took to Twitter, and she even has an official page on Facebook. It was said that Lata always had a mechanism in place where every single word written about her was brought to her notice.

In 2000, Lata, for the first time as an adult, acted in a prayer song she sang: Ek tu hi bharosa from A.R. Rahman’s Pukar and sang the most in the millennium among film composers for him in films like Lagaan, Rang De Basanti, Zubeidaa and One Two Ka Four.

In the ‘60s, though most heroines denied it, there was a clause in the actress’ contracts that Lata and no one else would sing for them. There was little opposition to this, for composers and filmmakers readily agreed to the stipulation.

It was during her differences with S.D. Burman (for about six years) that Asha Bhosle, Suman Kalyanpur and Geeta Dutt got their best songs with that genius composer.

In 1961, S.D. Burman reconciled with her because son R.D. Burman wanted his career-first recording with Lata in Chhote Nawab.

It was when Lata and Rafi had a three-year-long spat over royalty issues that Suman Kalyanpur was called in if Rafi was more important in a duet than the female singer, and so got many of her best songs. When Lata was vital, the male voice was of Mahendra Kapoor!

Raj Kapoor wanted – in the ‘50s – to make Satyam Shivam Sundaram, his allegorical dream project on true beauty being internal, with Lata Mangeshkar in the lead. He ultimately made the story in 1978 as Satyam Shivam Sundaram, with Lata as the only female singer.

This actor-musical filmmaker ended his tiff (that began in 1964 over a song in Sangam) with Lata after nine years by choosing Laxmikant-Pyarelal over Shankar (Jaikishan had passed away) to compose for Bobby , as Shankar was also persona non-grata with her.

Laxmikant-Pyarelal, in turn, refused to work in loyalist producer Premji’s Meeraa directed by Gulzar because Lata decided not to sing in the project since her brother Hridaynath Mangeshkar was scoring a Hindi non-film Meerabai album then.

Shankar himself made peace with Lata for his last musical hit Sanyasi (1975) and worked with her in more films.

The then-fledgling composers Laxmikant-Pyarelal chose Lata for every kind of song – from those for child artistes to cabarets and mujra, and since her remuneration was high, they shelled out part of her fees from their own dues!

Lata in turn reserved eight recording days every month for them, making producers gravitate towards L-P as well. Later, she did the same, but far less successfully, with Rajesh Roshan and Bappi Lahiri.

Link to Part 2:https://www.newsindiatimes.com/did-you-know-this-about-lata-mangeshkar-part-2/




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