Remembering the Nightingale of India and the Queen of Melody- Lata Mangeshkar
India’s musical history, and Bollywood, would be incomplete without Lata Mangeshkar, India’s most beloved singer. She lent her voice to Indian movies for over seven decades, being the voice of generations of actors. And in her vast career, she recorded thousands of songs in 36 languages.
But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Lata Mangeshkar was a lot more than just a singer for the Indian subcontinent. Let’s take a look at her life, legacy, and career.Indore to Mumbai: The Uprising
Mangeshkar was born in Indore, Madhya Pradesh, on 28th September 1929. She was the eldest daughter of Shevanti and Pandit Deenanath Mangeshkar, a musician and teacher who ran a theatre company.
She never went to school, but often spent her time training and performing with her father.
In her teenage years, when her father passed away, she moved to Mumbai to support her family and started working small roles in Bollywood movies.
Her journey from there was straight to the top — to become the Nightingale of India.
Despite her lavish career, she never married. But she had indeed a rich life — she loved cricket and fast cars, among other things.
In 2001, she was awarded India’s highest civilian honor, the Bharat Ratna, followed by the Officier de la Legion d’Honneur (Officer of Legion of Honour) from France in 2009, the highest French civilian award.Music Career: How It All Began
But her life was marked by her association with music. She began learning music when she was five — her father being her teacher. While she never went to school, she spent most of her childhood following her father, singing at his performances.
But after her father’s demise, she had to move to Mumbai to support her family. Here, she started singing for Marathi movies.
In 1949, she got her first big break with the release of the song Aayega Aanewala (Mahal), a charming yet haunting song that made her a household name across India.
Over the next three decades, she sang hundreds of songs in collaboration with Laxmikant-Pyarelal, followed by working with RD Burman and later his son. In the final phase of her career, she worked with names like AR Rehman.
In the seven decades of her career, she has lent her voice to the biggest names in Bollywood via thousands of songs.
The Immortal Melodies
If anything, Lata Mangeshkar is known globally for her unmatched output. She sang over 25,000 songs in over 1,000 films, in more than 20 languages. That’s more than The Beatles and The Rolling Stones combined!
What’s more, she was one of the few singers who could explore the four octaves of their voices without breaking a sweat. Even the biggest music directors loved her because she didn’t just sing — she understood the storyline and character and sang songs that carried the movie’s narrative.
To celebrate her extraordinary talent, here are some songs that you must check out if you haven’t already
The Legacy Left Behind
While her songs can be counted, her influence over the people cannot be. She touched countless lives through her songs. So much so that, even today, you will find her songs being played across classes and generations, from taxis and barbershops to weddings and national events.
In fact, she leaves a legacy that’s as old as independent India, and no other artist can come close to her. AR Rehman said she was “part of a soul, part of a consciousness of India”
For the same reason, Indians know her as Didi (sister). She was not just a famous singer, she made connections akin to family.
And let’s not forget her titles that speak of her legacy more than our words could — The Queen of Melody, The Nightingale of India, and the Voice of the Renaissance.
A Legend’s Demise -
Covid-19 took a lot of things from us, unfortunately, she was one of them. She passed away on 06 Feb 2022. She was cremated with full state honours and thousands of people flocked to say their final goodbyes.
But let us take this moment to celebrate her life, legacy, and music. And if someone was to send another Voyager across the space, it better have one of her songs. Because nothing defines music like her legacy.
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