The Life of Legendary Indian Singer Lata Mangeshkar | cultural | Report on arts, music and lifestyle in Germany | DW

It is almost impossible to imagine an Indian film without songs. Even arthouse films that stray from the musical genre usually feature some sort of background music, including songs.

This musical tradition dates back to India’s first film, “Alam Ara”, released in 1931, and it has remained crucial to a film’s success ever since. This is why filmmakers, in addition to choosing a good screenwriter, employ a lyricist (who are sometimes well-known poets), a music composer and a good singer for their songs.

In a country where movie songs and their lyrics are seen by the masses as a channel for expressing happiness, frustrations, love issues, patriotism and anti-authoritarian ideas, the importance of a legendary singer like Lata Mangeshkar is huge, especially because of her. monumental heritage. In a career spanning over seven decades, Mangeshkar sang over 25,000 songs in over 2,000 films in many Indian languages, most commonly Hindi, Marathi and Bengali.

Lata Mangeshkar 2010 in Bombay

From a family of musicians

Mangeshkar was born on September 28, 1929 to a singing family in Indore, part of a state in what was then British India. His father, Dinanath Mangeshkar, was a renowned classical musician and stage actor. Originally called “Hema”, Lata Mangeshkar received her new name from her father after her play “Latika”. She was the eldest of five siblings, including Meena, Asha, Usha and Hridaynath, all of whom became respected singers in their own right.

Mangeshkar started singing from an early age, learning from his father. However, her untimely death, when she was only 13, forced her to sing for the job. She moved to Mumbai and trained under several classical music maestros, eventually landing opportunities in Indian films.

Critics initially dismissed her voice as too thin (Mangeshkar could sing in three octaves), but by the late 1940s she had established her name singing songs for Hindi films.

A rallying cry for lovers

Mangeshkar sang many songs which remain iconic for their respective generations of Indians. For example, the song “Aaega aane wala” (“He who will come”) for the 1949 film “Mahal” was one of his first big hits and is, still today, the quintessential song that evokes images of haunted characters. villas and female spirits.

Singer Jagjit Singh speaks next to laughing Lata Mangeshkar, in her hands she holds a bouquet of flowers

Lata Mangeshkar 2007 at the launch of her album ‘Saadgi’ in Mumbai (left: singer Jagjit Singh)

His 1960 song “Jab Pyar Kiya to Darna Kya” (Those who love are not afraid) for the film “Mughal-e-Azam” (The Mughal Emperor) tells the story of the medieval Mughal emperor’s son Akbar, Jahangir, falling in love with a Slave girl. The lyrics, penned by the poet Naushad, became, and still are today, a rallying cry for Indian lovers of different castes, classes and religions.

During the 1960s and 1970s, Mangeshkar continued to dominate the Hindi singing scene, producing memorable songs with other Bollywood legends including singers Kishore Kumar, Manna Dey, Mohammad Rafi and many renowned composers. She also sang a duet with her sister, Asha Bhonsle, also a famous Bollywood singer, who preferred modern singing over the traditional Indian style of Mangeshkar.

Lata Mangeshkar’s live performances have never been less than memorable. During the Sino-Indian War in 1963, she sang “Ae mere watan ke logon” (“O, People of my Country”), written by poet Kavi Pradeep to commemorate fallen soldiers, moving India’s Prime Minister of the time, Jawaharlal Nehru, to tears.

Almost a decade later, in 1972, she performed at the Royal Albert Hall and became the first Indian artist to do so. She sang well in the 80s and 90s and the following decade, releasing her last album in 2012.

Along with numerous awards recognizing her work, she received the highest civilian honor in her home country, receiving the Bharat Ratna in 2001, and in France, becoming an Officier de la Légion d’honneur in 2009.

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