Lataji, the eldest daughter of a Gujrati mother and a Marathi father, a mix breed offspring, was born in a very conservative and orthodox family on the 28th September 1929. At a very early age of 4, she was introduced to the minutest intricacies of classical music by her stage actor-singer father the late Dinanath Mangeshkar. After Master Dinanath's demise, the responsibility of the family fell on her shoulders and at the age of 13, she was compelled to don the grease paint and act with the help on Master Vithal (Father of actress Nanda). She did a few Marathi films like Pahili Mangalagaur, Majhe Baal, Gaja Bhau and even in a few Hindi films like Badi Maa, Jeevan Yatra and Samudra Mandir.
It was in 1945 that this celestial voice caught the fancy of millions of Hindi music lovers, with its dulcet notes. Later in 1949 with films like Mahal, Baiju Bawara, Nagin, Madhumati, etc. Then, she was a slender teenager, leaving her first tentative footprints on a Bollywood music scene dominated by the legendary Shamshad Begum and Noorejahan. More than half a century later, that voice, beguiling in its seductivity, still reigns supreme despite the best efforts of two generations of wannabes like Sharda, Hemlata, Suman Kalyanpur, Aarti Mukherjee, Anuradha Paudwal, Kavita Krishnamurthy, Alka Yagnik, etc to supplant India's reigning nightingale from her throne. Way back then, she lent her voice to the lyrics of Bollywood's pop poets.
Lata Mangeshkar as a playback singer enjoys a clout which even the movie moguls of the country's film industry cannot dream of. Lata's reign over the world of playback singing for female characters has been undisputed over the decades and she has lent her voice to heroines from Meena Kumari to Sreedevi to Kajol. She has continued surprising her fans with the range of her singing in films like Dil Se (with the song Jiya Jale on her turning 70, which was a huge hit and was recorded in just 40 minutes), Zubeidaa and most recently One 2 Ka 4.
Then her sibling rivalry with Asha Bhonsle needs no recounting which had ignited the flames of the Mangeshkar monopoly and in return had proved to be the downfall of many contemporary budding female singers. Lataji had cut down on her work pressure in the 70's and got involved in her stage shows abroad from whence Raj Kapoor brought her back to sing for Ram Teri Ganga Maili. And then once again she made her grand come-back with Chandni and Maine Pyaar Kiya. She has been honoured with many awards and the Maharashtra Bhushan Award is one of them, the award is intended to honour Maharashtrian achievers in literature, music, science and sport. Lata is the recipient of the highest honour in films Dadasaheb Phalke award, National Awards plus Filmfare awards Lata Mangeshkar withdrew from the Filmfare awards to encourage newcomers in music.
Today the legendary singer sits pretty with occasionally crooning for select numbers the crooner is at peace with herself content with the resplendent career which not many or any artist has ever experienced or ever will experience.