Tribute to ‘Lata Didi’ from an Ardent Fan in Houston

By Mangala Sane

HOUSTON: We all should thank the Almighty God for bringing people like Lata Mangeshkar into our country — India.

Lata has entertained and inspired millions of people in India as well as outside India for many decades. She is known as the ‘Nightingale of India’ and in Marathi, “Swar Kokila”. She is also recognized as “Maa Saraswati”.

Lata was born in Indore on September 28, 1929 and worked extensively in various spheres of Indian popular and light classical music. She has sung gazals, bhajans and over 50,000 songs for Bollywood cinema for three generations of heroines from Madhubala to Zeenat Aman and Kajol. She has become the world’s most recorded artist as stated in the Guiness Book of World Records.

Originally, Lata’s father Pandit Deenanath had the surname of Hardikar, but he changed it to honor his native Goa town of Mangeshi. Lata’s childhood name was, in fact, Hema. She was renamed after one of the characters in her father’s plays named Latika.

With the blessings of her own father, Lata tasted the first fruits of classical music. However, the sky fell on her in 1942 when her father passed away. Lata was only 13 and had to assume the mantle of responsibility for her family.
Upon moving to Mumbai in 1945, Lata began studying Hindustani classical music under Ustad Amanat Ali Khan. Following partition, he migrated to Pakistan. Then, Lata began to study under Pandit Tulsidas Sharma, and Amanat Khan Devaswale. Lata got her first break in 1948 when she sang a song in the Hindi film titled ‘Majboor’ composed by Ghulam Haidar.

We all know what happened after that! Her life was never been the same since. Lata created for herself a place of honor etched in ‘gold’!

Lata’s versatality as a singer is demonsrated by the fact that she has sung in a number of languages from love songs  to Bhakti or devotional songs. Nothing seems to have been left untouched or unexplored by her. She has sung
Dyaneshwari in Marathi as composed by her brother Hridaynath Mangeshkar.

In 2007, Lata released an album ‘Saadgi’, which contained eight gazhals written by Javed Akhtar. She released an album in 2011 called ‘Sarhadein’, music beyond boundaries, which includes a duet with Mehdi Hassan.
Lata launched her own record label ‘LM Music’ with an album of bhajans, which she sang with her sister Usha Mangeshkar.

Lata was nominated to the Rajya Sabha in 2000 for her contributions to vocal arts and melody. In 2001, she received the Bharat Ratna, the highest honor for achievements in Indian culture. Despite having such a great reputation, Lata appeared still to be a simple person at heart. She is famous for wearing white sarees and diamonds.

My sadar pranam to ‘Lata Didi’ May God bless her soul with peace.

Mangala Sane is the Director of Sargam School of Music, which teaches Hindustani classical vocal music and provides harmonium keyboard lessons. Contact: 281-498-6126 or 713-851-8211.