The evergreen Lata Mangeshkar, who is widely regarded as the best Hindi and Marathi singers of all time, continues to be a source of inspiration for contemporary singers. Her success story and life in general, has been exemplary throughout her 68-year old career. Born into an Indore-based Marathi family on September 28, 1929, Lata started to develop her formative singing skills at the age of five from her father Deenanath Mangeshkar, who himself was an acclaimed classical singer.
Lata was forced to begin her career at the tender age of 13 due to her father’s untimely demise. However, she was fiercely independent and decided to support her four siblings (Hridaynath, Asha, Veena and Usha) own her own by taking small acting roles. In 1948, her singing abilities were noticed by the film fraternity through the hit song ‘Dil Mera Toda’ in a film entitled Majboor.
Over a period of more than six and a half decade, Mangeshkar has rendered her iconic voice in more than 36 regional and foreign languages. She is said to have sung more than 25,000 solo/duet and chorus songs, a marvelous feat that got her inducted in the Guinness Book of World Records from 1974 till 1971. Her musical success was unrivalled between the 1950s and the 1980s. Although Lata continued to sing regularly for many more years, she became rather selective in her choices of songs in the 1990s.
Lata is only the second vocalist ever to have been honoured with India’s biggest civilian award- The Bharat Ratna. She has also won the Padma Bhushan (1969), Padma Vibhushan and Dada Saheb Phalke Award (both in 1999). Interestingly, Lata won just four Filmfare Awards in her career because she announced her decision to forego the honor from 1969 onwards in order to encourage young and upcoming singers. Apart from singing, Mangeshkar has been an accomplished music director and had also forayed into film production in 1953, producing four movies until 1990. Lata is also a magnanimous Philanthropist and participates in various charitable activities.