By Monisha G Kumar Last Updated:
Born as Hema Mangeshkar on September 28, 1929, Lata Mangeshkar was one of the greatest and the most influential singers of India. With a career spanning eight decades, she was honoured with titles like the ‘Nightingale of India’ and ‘Queen of Melody’. The veteran singer, who had recorded songs in 36 Indian languages and a few foreign languages, is the second female singer to receive the Bharat Ratna.
When Lata Mangeshkar was introduced to the Hindi music industry, the singer was dismissed for her voice being ‘too thin’. It was the music director, Ghulam Haider, who showed faith in her and challenged everyone by giving her the first major breakthrough song, Dil Mera Toda, Mujhe Kahin Ka Na Chhora. With songs like Aayega Aanewaala, Ajeeb Dastaan Hai Yeh, Aap Ki Nazron Ne Samjha, Pyar Kiya To Darna Kya, Mera Saaya Saath Hoga, Piya Tose, Aaj Phir Jeene Ki Tamanna and many more, Lata Mangeshkar gave some of the most soulful tracks to Indian cinema.
Lata Mangeshkar had shared a very warm bond with the veteran actor, Dilip Kumar and considered him her elder brother. Do you know that Lata Mangeshkar was once miffed with Dilip Kumar for his sly remark and didn’t speak to him for 13 years? When Lata Mangeshkar was introduced to Dilip Kumar on a local train by composer Anil Biswas, he told Dilip saab that Lata was chosen to sing the song, Laagi Naahin Chhute, for his film, Musafir. Listening to this, Dilip Kumar passed a sly remark that the “Urdu of Marathis is like dal and rice”, which offended Lata, and she didn’t speak to him.
After 13 years, when iconic author, Khushwant Singh brought Dilip Kumar and Lata Mangeshkar together for his cover story, the author, drove Lata to Dilip saab’s home, where she tied rakhi on his wrist. It was at the dining table when Lata startled everyone by remarking Dilip Kumar and had said:
“You know, Yusufsaab, I'd always heard you loathed me for being one up on you while recording the Laagi Naahin Chhute Rama duet with you in (Hrishikesh Mukherjee's) Musafir. But I only sang the way I can't help singing any number.”
Hearing her statement, Dilip Kumar reacted how he and his family loved her voice and said:
“It's precisely because you can't help singing the way you do that my family and I adore you! How possibly could I loathe a voice so heavenly!”
In Dilip Kumar’s autobiography, The Substance and the Shadow, Lata Mangeshkar had spoken about her close bond with Dilip Kumar and had stated:
“We did not meet too often those days. However, whenever there was a recording of a song at Mehboob Studios and Yousuf Bhai was shooting there, I never missed the opportunity to call on him. He was a superstar and I was rising on the horizon as a playback singer, but, when we met, he held me close to his heart like an elder brother and gave me the love and respect that only someone as pure as he could.”
On July 2021, Dilip Kumar passed away due to prolonged illness and less than a year after, Lata Mangeshkar bid adieu to the world in February 2022.