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Lata Mangeshkar, Nightingale of India

An ExpressIndia Article dated 21st March 1999
(By Manisha Khanna & Ajay Chaturvedi)

The nightingale of India, Lata Mangeshkar, who has charmed her fans with over 50,000 songs she has sung as a playback singer in films, has no regrets that she never got married.

Over the last 56 years of her singing career, Lata thought of retiring several times, but it was the affection of her fans that never let her call it a day.

Lata, whose voice quality retains the freshness and innocence of a 16-year-old girl, says that in a way it has been good that she did not get married. "Had I got married, I may have got divorced in a year or two. It has all been all for the good," she says.

Lata wants to now give more attention to singing classical-based songs. She is not very happy with the kind of lyrics that are being written these days and recalls the days of yore when there was emotion in the songs. Everybody very careful that obscenity should not get into the songs even by inference.

It was after India’s losses in the India-China war in 1962 that a young Lata had sung the song, "Ai Mere Watan Ke Logon, Zara Aankh Me Bhar Lo Pani". The song, writeen by Kavi Pradeep, moved the then Indian Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nahru, to tears and he confessed "Beti toone mujhe rula diya."

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 Madhubala to Madhuri Dixit to Kajol.

She has surprised even her fans with the range of her singing in the film "Dil to Paagal Hai" whose title song has the same wording. Her song "Tere Bin Nahin Jeena" in the latest venture "Kachhe Dhage" is the last film in which the late Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan has given the music. It is said that Nusrat insisted that he would score the music for the film only if Lata was the playback singer.

Yes, several female playback singers who could not, perhaps, match Lata’s range and talent, have alleged that during her long career at the top, Lata did not let other talented singers come up. It is not known how much truth there is in such allegations, but it is beyond dispute that Lata is a legend in her lifetime and undeniably the best singer India has produced. Her contribution to making music popular throughout India and the world is incalculable and she has reigned supreme all through the last six decades.

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