‘On the first day in school, she started teaching songs to other children. When the teacher stopped her, she was so angry that she stopped going to the school.’
Queen of melody, voice of the nation, Nightingale of India and the Voice of Millennium, there is just a dearth of good epithets for the singing Virtuoso, Lata Mangeshkar.
Lata-The Naming of the legend
Lata ji was named Hema at her birth. Her parents later renamed her Lata after a female character, Latika, in one of her father’s plays, Bhav Bandhan. She is the eldest daughter of her parents.
The family’s last name used to be Hardikar. Her father changed it to Mangeshkar in order to identify his family with his home town Mangeshi.
How Lata ji developed her own style
She is said to have imitated the famous singer Noor Jahan, but later she developed her own style of singing. Actor Dilip Kumar once made a mildly disapproving remark about her Maharashtrian accent while singing Hindi/Urdu songs so for a period of time. Hereby, Lata took lessons in Urdu from an Urdu teacher named Shafi.
Owing to her mellifluous voice, Lata ji developed her own unique style which we know to be the voice that is heard in over 40,000+ songs.
Lata ji’s Godfather
In 1948, Music Director Ghulam Haider mentored her as a singer. He introduced Mangeshkar to producer Sashadhar Mukherjee, who was then worked on the movie Shaheed, but Mukherjee dismissed Mangeshkar’s voice as “too thin”. An annoyed Haider responded that in coming years producers and directors would “fall at Lata’s feet” and “beg her” to sing in their movies. Haider gave Lata her first major break with the song “Dil Mera Toda, Mujhe Kahin Ka Na Chhora” in the movie Majboor , which became her first big breakthrough film hit.
In an interview on her 84th birthday, in September 2013, Lata herself declared,
“Ghulam Haider is truly my Godfather. He was the first music director who showed complete faith in my talent.”
PM Nehru cried because Lata ji’s was a voice that could move anyone to tears
On 27 January 1963, against the backdrop of the Sino-Indian War, Lata ji sang the patriotic song “Aye Mere Watan Ke Logon” in presence of Jawaharlal Nehru, then the Prime Minister of India. The pain in the voice and the great sacrifice by the brave soldiers moved the Prime Minister so much that he was in tears.
Lata – An Inspiration to a Magnum Opus
Raj Kapoor directed Satyam Shivam Sundaram in 1978. Lata Mangeshkar gave her voice to the main theme song “Satyam Shivam Sundaram”. It was among the top blockbuster songs of that year. The story of getting inspiration from Lata Mangeshkar is revealed by Raj Kapoor’s daughter Ritu Nanda in her latest book.
“I visualized the story of a man falling for a woman with an ordinary countenance but a golden voice and wanted to cast Lata Mangeshkar in the role.”
Hindi cinema’s greatest melodious voice will sing till eternity and beyond and in Martin Luther King Junior’s words,
“As long as we live, there is never enough singing.”