Lata Mangeshkar: Queen of melody who redefined best of playback singing in Indian Cinema

Lata Mangeshkar Passes away: In popular cinema, Lata Mangeshkar's career began in 1943, with her first Hindi song being 'Mata ek sapoot ki duniya badal de tu' for Marathi film Gajaabhaau (1943).

By Aalok Sensharma
Updated: Sun, 06 Feb 2022 06:19 PM IST
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Lata Mangeshkar: Queen of melody who redefined best of playback singing in Indian Cinema
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Mumbai/New Delhi | Mukul Sharma: Playback singer, icon, legend and India's 'national treasure' Lata Mangeshkar breathed last at 92 at Mumbai's Breach Candy hospital on Sunday, where she was hospitalised for nearly a month after exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19. Widely regarded as the queen of melody, the legend sang in over a thousand Hindi films and recorded songs in 36 Indian languages. Mangeshkar's mortal body was consigned to flames at Mumbai's Shivaji Park, where she was accorded full state honours.

For her defining contribution in the world of cinema and music, Mangeshkar was bestowed with all of India's top civilian honors; Padma Bhushan (1969), Padma Vibhushan (1999) and Bharat Ratna (2001). Lata Mangeshkar also served as a presidentially nominated member of Indian parliament's upper house, Rajya Sabha, between 1999 to 2005. In 2009, she was bestowed with France's highest civilian honour Legion d'Honneur.

Lata Mangeshkar, even after her mortal departure from the world, remains that one jewel on the crown of Mother India whose sheen and gleam remains immortal. Mangeshkar not only loved and lived the world of playback singing and bhartiya sangeet but was also an ardent cricket fan. Not many people know that Mangeshkar’s most priced possession for the longest time was an autographed picture of Australian cricket legend Don Bradman. Her fondness with Sachin Tendulkar was motherly with both possessing each other's memorabilia as 'priced possessions'.

Career, Life and Legacy

In popular cinema, Lata Mangeshkar's career began in 1943, with her first Hindi song being "Mata ek sapoot ki duniya badal de tu" for Marathi film Gajaabhaau (1943). In 1948, when Lata was being mentored by music director Ghulam Haider, a producer of film 'Shaheed' dismissed Lata's voice as 'too thin'.

Lata then got her first major break with "Dil mera toda, mujhe kahin ka na chhora"—lyrics by Nazim Panipati—in the movie Majboor (1948), 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."

Lata sang many raga-based songs for Naushad in movies such as Deedar (1951), Baiju Bawra (1952), Amar (1954), Uran Khatola (1955) and Mother India (1957).

Lata's song "Pyar kiya to darna kya" from Mughal-e-Azam (1960), lip-synced by Madhubala, continues to remain greatly receptive in public memory. Lata is widely regarded to have established her versatile singing stature with “Ajeeb Dastaan Hai Yeh”, from Dil Apna Aur Preet Parai (1960).

On 27 January 1963, against the backdrop of Indo-China war, Lata sang the patriotic song "Ae Mere Watan Ke Logo" in the presence of Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. The song, composed by C. Ramchandra and written by Kavi Pradeep, is said to have brought the Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru to tears.

In 1972, Meena Kumari's last film, Pakeezah, featured popular songs including "Chalte Chalte" and "Inhi Logon Ne", all sung by Lata Mangeshkar.

In the 1978 Raj Kapoor-directed Satyam Shivam Sundaram, Lata Mangeshkar sang the main theme song "Satyam Shivam Sundaram," among the chart-toppers of the year.

From the 1980s onwards, Lata Mangeshkar worked with music directors such as Shiv-Hari in Silsila (1981), Faasle (1985), Vijay (1988), and Chandni (1989) and Ram Laxman in Ustadi Ustad Se (1981), Bezubaan (1982), Woh Jo Hasina (1983), Ye Kesa Farz (1985), and Maine Pyar Kiya (1989). She sang in other movies, such as Karz (1980), Ek Duuje Ke Liye (1981), Silsila (1981), Prem Rog (1982), Hero (1983), Pyar Jhukta Nahin (1985), Ram Teri Ganga Maili (1985), Nagina (1986), and Ram Lakhan (1989).

Mangeshkar also sang for almost all the Yash Chopra films except 'Jab Tak Hai Jaan'. 

The sun dawned on February 6 but couldn’t fulfill the light lost due to mortal departure of 'Nightingale of India' Lata Mangeshkar. For decades Mangeshkar lit up India and the world with her unparalleled voice and personality extraordinaire. She was lovingly called 'aai' (mother) by Sachin Tendulkar and 'didi' (elder sister) by tens of millions who saw and heard her becoming the voice that an independent India grew up with as a nation. 

Lata Mangeshkar was never married. She is survived by her sisters Usha Mangeshkar, Meena Khadikar, Asha Bhosle and brother Hridaynath Mangeshkar.

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