Lata Mangeshkar - Biography

By J Poet


Lata Mangeshkar is one of the most popular and prolific singers in the history of music. She has recorded more than 30,000 songs - maybe as many as 50,000 - as a solo artist, duet singer, or as a member of a larger ensemble, making any discography problematic, if not impossible. She has sung pop songs, ghazals, bhajans, Indian classical music and, most importantly, film songs. She sings in 20 regional dialects as well as Hindi and is the older sister of Asha Bhosle. In Bollywood (India’s film industry, centered in Bombay/Mumbai) actresses don’t sing, they lip synch to prerecorded vocals cut by playback singers and written by composers called musical directors. Mangeshkar is the greatest playback singer of all time, with over 30,000 songs recorded between 1948 and 1987. In the 90s, her classical style fell out of style, but she has continued to work sporadically for a new generation of film composers including A. R. Rahman of Slumdog Millionaire fame. She was given the Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award in 1993 and India’s highest civilian honor, the Bharat Ratna, in 2001.


Mangeshkar was born in Sikh Mohalla, Indore, in 1929, when India was part of the British Empire. Her father was a classical singer, playwright, and actor, who named her after a character in one of is plays. Her father started teaching her how to sing when she was five, and she was on stage in her father’s plays from an early age. She never went to school, because the teachers wouldn’t let her sing or perform in class.


Mangeshkar was only 13 when her father died. Her career didn’t start smoothly. She sang “Naachu Yaa Gade, Khelu Saari Mani Haus Bhaari,” by Sadashivrao Nevrekar for the film Kiti Hasaal, but the song wasn’t used. Vinayak Karnataki, the owner of a big Indian movie studio and a family friend, gave her a role in a film and put “Mata Ek Sapoot Ki Duniya Badal De Tu” in Gajaabhaau, a film he produced. In 1945, he moved his studio to Bombay, today Mumbai. Mangeshkar moved as well, and started classical voice lessons with Ustad Amanat Ali Khan Bhendibazaarwale.


After India became independent in 1947, Mangeshkar studied with Amanat Khan Devaswale and Pandit Tulsidas Sharma. In 1948, music director Ghulam Haider helped start her career when he gave her the song “Dil Mera Toda” in the film Majboor. In 1949 she had her first hit with “Aayega Aanewaala,” from Mahal, composed by Khemchand Prakash. Barsaat/Aah/Aag (2007 EMI India) includes Mangeshkar’s contributions to three soundtracks from the 40s.


In the 50s, Mangeshkar became one of the most popular playback singers and worked with famous music directors like Anil Biswas, Naushad, Salil Chowdhury, and S. D. Burman, to name just a few. In 1958 she won her first Filmfare Best Female Playback Singer Award for Salil Chowdhury's “Aaja Re Pardesi” in Madhumati. By 1960, Mangeshkar was the top playback singer in Bollywood. Her hits included Naushad’s “Pyar Kiya To Darna Kya” from Mughal-E-Azam, “Ajeeb Dastaan Hai Yeh” from Dil Apna Aur Preet Parai composed by the duo Shankar-Jaikishan, Hemant Kumar’s “Kahin Deep Jale Kahin Dil” from Bees Saal Baad, and S. D. Burman’s “Hothon Pe Aisi Baat” from Jewel Thief. She also became a producer with three films to her credit, and a musical director. She scored five films between 1950 and 1969 using the pseudonym Anand Ghan and won a Best Music Director Award for her work on Sadhi Manase in 1965. A song she wrote for the film, “Airanichya Deva Tula,” took that year’s Best Film Song Award.


Mangeshkar stayed popular with musical directors throughout the 70s. She won Best Female Playback Singer for R.D. Burman’s “Beeti Na Bitai” from Parichay in 1973, and Best Female Playback Singer in 1974 for Kalyanji-Anandji’s “Roothe Roothe Piya” from the film Kora Kagaz. She also started a concert career touring India and internationally. By the 80s, musical styles were changing and Mangeshkar recorded fewer songs for films and made albums of devotional music. In 1990, Mangeshkar started a film company, but only made one movie, Lekin, before going bankrupt. The experience wasn’t a total bust; she took home another Best Female Playback Singer for “Yaara Sili Sili,” composed for the film by her brother Hridayanath Mangeshkar with lyrics by the poet Gulzar.


She sang less in the 90s, but her place in Indian musical history was already secure. In 2001, she built the 65 bed Master Deenanath Mangeshkar Hospital in Pune to deliver affordable, state of the art medical services. She also designed a jewelry collection for Adora, an Indian diamond company. Part of her salary was donated to the Pakistan Earthquake Relief Fund. Her recording of “Wada Na Tod” was used in the Jim Carrey film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind in 2004 and was included on the Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind Soundtrack (2004 Hollywood.) Saadgi (2007 T-Series India) featured eight ghazals from the soundtrack of a popular Indian TV series written by the poet Javed Akhtar with music by Mayuresh Pai.


Mangeshkar’s has appeared on countless LPs, cassettes and CDs. A sampling follows. Rough Guide to Bollywood Legends: Lata Mangeshkar (2004 World Music Network), includes film song from the 40s through 90s, The Legend: India's Best-Loved Singer (2006 Manteca UK) a two disc, 33 song overview, Lata Live At Royal Albert Hall (2007 RPG India), a two CD set of her 1979 performance with the Wren Orchestra, Chala Vahi Des & Meera Bhajans (2003 RPG India) gives you 15 devotional songs as does Lata Sings Ghalib & Other Gazals (2006 RPG India.) Lata Mangeshkar The Composer Vol.1 (2002 Saregama India) includes 14 of her own compositions. RPG India is releasing an ambitious series of albums that give an overview of Mangeshkar’s entire career under the title Anmol Ratan. At least 26 Volumes have been released so far. True fanatics can try Legends Lata Mangeshkar - The Nightingale (2005 RPG India) an 86-song overview on five CDs with an extensive booklet with a detailed bio and credits.

Shop Amoeba Merch Paypal Music & Movies Ship Free at Amoeba From Our Friends at Guayki We Buy Large Collections


New customers, create your account here. Its quick and easy!


Don't want to register? Feel free to make a purchase as a guest!

Checkout as Guest

Currently, we do not allow digital purchases without registration



Become a member of It's easy and quick!

All fields required.

An error has occured - see below:

Minimum: 8 characters, 1 uppercase, 1 special character

Already have an account? Log in.


Forgot Password

To reset your password, enter your registration e-mail address.


Forgot Username

Enter your registration e-mail address and we'll send you your username.


Amoeba Newsletter Sign Up