There is no introduction befitting enough of the legacy that the Nightingale of India Lata Mangeshkar bears as part of her very identity. One of the country’s best-known and most respected playback singers who enjoys as expansive a global fan base, the 92 year old undisputed Queen of Melody who continues to enthral one and all with her voice across a career spanning well over some seven decades is a talent unparalleled. Her many a melodies might be charting of more popularity than any one can envision but there still are aspects to her life, both in and beyond its captivating music that are relatively lesser known. Here’s some such interesting facts about the singing icon that make up music still of a different kind-
A complete musician
The fame alluding to Lata Mangeshkar might stem exclusively almost from her prowess of singing but the true musician that she is finds expression across diverse facets of her identity. A music director as well as a composer, Mangeshkar assumed the male pseudonym of Anand Ghan while (secretly) producing music for quite a number of films in her native Marathi tongue. In fact, it had been as early as in 1955 that Lata Mangeshkar first composed music for the movie Ram Ram Pavhana. Beyond music and in pursuance of her first artistic expression of acting, the celebrated singer also ventured into the production of movies during the second half of the 20th century asserting thereby her era of being in rather versatile dominance of that period in time.
Filmfare Best Playback Singer of all times
Lata Mangeshkar’s range as a singer is reflected indeed in the numerous awards and accolades conferred on her for her many a musical renditions cutting across the barriers of language, genre and period. But even more acknowledging of the phenomenal essence that the Bharat Ratna awardee bears in her identity of musical magnificence rests along a rather unique premise. A four time recipient of the Filmfare Award for Best Female Playback Singer, it has been Mangeshkar whose level of musical perfection was what led this award to come into being in the first place. With no category for best playback singer awarded yet by Filmfare since its inception in 1954, it was Mangeshkar’s act of protest by refusing to perform at the ceremony that led to the introduction of this category in 1959.
It indeed has been a further extension of Mangeshkar’s immense talent that till the year of 1968 when the award was not yet separately alluding to the genders, it had been the legend who was the only singer to lay her claim upon this title every single year. But it still isn’t where Lata Mangeshkar’s association with the award ended, continuing instead in a rather diametric dimension. The very next year after the award came to be officially divided as the best male and the best female playback singer, the legendary artist offered to give up her recognition in favor of honoring instead newer talents of the music industry.
Passionate for perfumes, zeal for jewelry and a hum of humanity
As much as she might be known for her exemplary exploits of musical measures, Lata Mangeshkar’s popularity bode well enough for her aura to find equally resplendent translation across other spheres as well. A perfume lover herself, Mangeshkar had the Lata Eau de Parfum launched in her name in 1999 with an intriguing design of a coconut mounted atop a kalash making the imported glass bottle that holds the “essence of the warm and modest person behind the enigmatic Living Legend” herself.
Also a lover of jewelry, Mangeshkar lent also her efforts to design an entire collection of it in realisation of what she called a ‘long standing passion’. Created by the gem of Indian music in collaboration with the country’s second largest diamond exporter Adora, the Swaranjali line of jewelry rested indeed in the glow of Mangeshkar’s warm affection. Five pieces from this exquisite 2005 collection were auctioned at Christies for £105,000, part of which made for donations for the relief of earthquake victims in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and Jammu and Kashmir and children’s charity ‘Pratham’.
Almost poisoned to death
A lady so loved by the world, it came as quite a shock when the legendary Lata Mangeshkar was driven to the threshold of death after having being slow poisoned. Indeed one of the most unexpected and unfortunate events of Lataji’s life is this 1962 incident that remains shrouded in mystery till date. It apparently had been her cook who had committed the act as he vanished soon after without even getting his dues cleared, leaving the singer bedridden for three months after some 10 days of recovering from a very critical condition.
A musical medley in food and flavours
Like all singers the world over who treasures indeed their asset of voice, Lata Mangeshkar too makes all attempt in painstaking deliberateness to retain the melody that makes her celebrated as the Nightingale of India. Particularly in reference to her diet, she swears by some dos and don’ts even when otherwise there isn’t much she fusses over. Even as a lover of spicy food, Mangeshkar had her favorites work for her indeed as she used to eat a lot of green chillies to maintain her voice while refraining religiously from cold water. Other than that though, the veteran artiste gorges on almost everything, though sparingly but one thing she indulges in is kesar which she flavors to perfection her bowl of gajar halwa or her glass of badam milk with. A coffee lover whose recording sessions necessarily entailed sipping on a cup or two of the hot beverage, Mangeshkar though prefers to not eat much before concerts. The after concert scene is a different story however as she supposedly eats a lot then and even carries some honey and water along every time.