To call Lata Mangeshkar a Diva is to do her a major injustice. The word Diva has connotations of grandeur and arrogance and a touch-me-not attitude. Whereas Lata Mangeshkar is much more than just a diva, she is a part of India’s royalty and like icons such as Amitabh and Sachin she holds a special place in our hearts. But there really seems to be no other word to describe this magnificent singer. She is the timeless voice of India.
Everyone who loves Indian music knows about this lady and her amazing talent. She has been in the public eye for so long that we have made her a part of our family and we have listened to her songs with joy and delight.
Some aspects of Lata Mangeshkar’s early life:
She was a very active and mischievous child. In her words in the book “Lata Mangeshkar – in her own voice “ she says that “I was quite notorious in our neighbourhood. I walked around with a stick in my hand, hitting everyone.” In 1941 when her father passed away, she was only thirteen years old, but she picked up the mantle of her family’s responsibilities and began to act for Marathi films, and 1943 she sang her first Hindi song for the Marathi film Gajabhau – “Hindustan ke logon ab to mujh ko pehchano”. At the age of five she joined a school, but when they did not let her bring her sister Asha with her to the class, she left school and never went back again. She was home schooled and attended regular classes only for her music.
Accolades from the public:
The innumerable awards which she has received are ample evidence of the kind of recognition which she has received. But it is the public which has given her appreciation and accolades which are matchless. She is worshipped by us, and there are some who believe her to be the embodiment of the Goddess Saraswati. Her voice is recognised instantly even when she is not singing. Her grace and dignity throughout her public life have kept her above the scandal mongering press and all of us believe that she embodies all that is good in the music industry.
Lata Mangeshkar’s Contribution to Bollywood Music:
Lata set the benchmarks for great singing. Every other singer was matched against her and none of them achieved her level of excellence. Whether it was the haunting melody “Äayega aanewala “ from Mahal, or the poignant “Äaie mere watan ke logon” which brought tears to eyes of even Jawaharlal Nehru, or the lilting words of “Hum tum ek kamre mein bandh ho” of Bobby, she has a different approach for each one of them. Every music director and lyricist looked towards her to provide the extra touch to make a good song great.
Lata’s unique talent and genius:
There have been many great voices n the singing world, but what makes Lata unique is her ability to sing any type of song and manage to infuse in it the emotions which are being emoted by the actor on the screen. A sad song is sung softly with depth and emotion, a happy song has a lilt and liveliness to it, and a classical song will be sung with the correct intonations and rhythm.
Today when she has stopped singing for films we miss her, and we agree with Shahrukh Khan that his one regret is that she could never sing for him. There will be many other actresses who will agree with him today, and there will be many an occasion when we will say “a good song, but Lata would have sung it better”.
Lata Mangeshkar – in her own voice - Conversations with Nasreen Munni Kabir – is a great book about Lata, with some very unusual photographs and in-depth conversations with this iconic lady.
Read more about Lata Mangeshkar on Wikipedia here.