India’s Nightingale Lata Mangeshkar turns 91! 

Bharat Ratna Lata Mangeshkar needs no introduction. We know her by various names such as—‘Melody Queen’, ‘India’s Nightingale’, ‘Swar Samgragyi’ etc. In fact, Lata Ji is a part of every Indian’s daily life or simply we can say that she’s the voice of India.  She has captured the imagination of the entire nation because of her heavenly voice!  Her expressions are always so right. And she is incapable of singing out of tune. This living legend voice of India turned 90 on September 28.
And forget about bothering to remember her, as long as Bollywood music is alive anywhere in the world, Lata Mangeshkar, with her thousands of songs and more than seventy years of whopping sway over playback, will be synonymous with Bollywood music. She is, in fact, Bollywood music. No one can deny it.
There may not be a moment when somebody, somewhere, is not listening to a song sung by Lata Mangeshkar. It has been so for the last six decades or so. Music fans may be divided when it comes to choosing their favourite male singers. Some might swear by Mohammaed Rafi, others by Kishore Kumar and some others by Mukesh—but the majority of them may choose Lata Mangeshkar the female voice they most want to listen to.  Many of bhajans, spiritual, romantic or patriotic songs sung by her gives magical healing to us. Who can forget songs like--- mohe panghat pe Shyam chhed gayo re….(Mugal-e-Azam), Satyam Shivam Sundaram (title song), Yashomati Maiyya se bole Nandlala….and bhor bhaye panghat pe…(Satyam Shivam Sundaram), chalet..chalate (Pakiza),  Allah tero naam (Hum Dono), Aye mere watan ke logon etc. This list is endless.
Lata’s musical journey is extraordinary. Ditto her life. Born in 1929 to the great Marathi theatre personality Pandit Deenanath Mangeshkar and his Gujarati wife Shevanti in Indore (Madhya Pradesh),  singing and music  was in her blood. 
On 27 January 1963, against the backdrop of the Sino-Indian War,  Lata sang the patriotic song “Aye Mere Watan Ke Logo" in the presence of  then Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, The song, composed by C. Ramchandra and written by lyricist Pradeep, is said to have brought the Prime Minister to tears.
The government of India awarded her Bharat Ratna-- India's highest civilian honour in 2001. India’s highly-beloved Nightingale is divinity personified but even the Goddess has her cynics. Due to her near-total dominance over playback for more than six decades, Lata Mangeshkar has often been accused of stealing other singers’ song and effectively, their entire careers. But this allegation holds no water. She was always the first choice for the music composer. There is also controversy surrounded her as to how many songs she has sung. Several sources continued to claim that she recorded thousands of songs, with estimates ranging up to figures as large as 50,000.
On her 90th birthday, spend the day listening to her songs of your choice and pay tribute to India’s Nightingale! Happy birthday, Lata Ji !

- Prabhakar Purandare

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