Mumbai, Sep 28: Melody queen Lata Mangeshkar, whose matchless voice has entertained generations, celebrated her 78th birthday in a quiet manner with family and close friends today.
Lata or 'Didi', as she is affectionately called, spends her birthday every year in Pune or Kolhapur. Though she has cut down on playback singing in films, she brought out an album of ghazals 'Saadgi' recently. Lata, who is known to have adverse views on remixes, was in the news for her criticism of reality shows being judged through SMS poll.
Born on September 28, 1929 in a Maharashtrian family at Indore, Madhya Pradesh, she was the first born of Pandit Deenanath Mangeshkar and Shudhamati, followed by four siblings.
In a career spanning more than six decades, Lata has been the numero uno of melodious singing winning several awards and doctorates the world over including the Bharat Ratna and Dada Saheb Phalke Award.
It was her father, the owner of a theatre company and a reputed classical singer, who gave her singing lessons from the age of five. She was trained in classical music by Aman Ali Khan Sahib and later by Amanat Khan. Tragedy hit her at the age of 13, when Deenanath died of a heart disease.
The financial responsibility of the family fell on little Lata. During this difficult phase in her life, Vinayak Damodar Karnataki, who owned the Navyug Chitrapat Film Company, proved a close friend and mentor to the Mangeshkar family. Lata shifted to Mumbai in 1945, and her stint with the film world started with Master Vinayak's company. She appeared in various cameo roles in Hindi and Marathi films to eke out here living.
Initially, it was hard for her to make a presence in the film industry ruled by prominent singers like Noor Jehan, Shamshad Begum and Zohrabai Ambalewali. With her search for perfection, she even corrected her Urdu by hiring a tutor.
She made her debut in a Marathi film but it was edited out. No music director was willing to give Lata her much-needed opportunity.
Ironically Lata was even rejected for ''Shaheed'' (1948) by producer S Mukherjee who complained that her voice was too thin. But misery could not obstruct the path and determination of Lata and Ghulam Haider noticed her talent and gave her a big break in the film ''Majboor'' (1948). She sang ''Dil Mera Toda'', which turned out to be a massive hit. The year 1949 was a turning point in her career, when four of her films: ''Mahal'', ''Dulari'', ''Barsaat'' and ''Andaz'' became hits.
Her songs became hugely popular and her voice was finally accepted in the film industry. By 1950, the Lata wave had changed the Industry. Asha Bhosle too came up in the late 1950s and the two sisters have been the undisputed queens of Indian playback singing right through to the 90s till today.