Unplugged: Lata Mangeshkar
28 August 2009, 12:00am IST
A Krishna devotee, she believes receiving love is the greatest thing... Her mother once said, "The more she suffers, the more her art excels".
Lata Mangeshkar was born at home on September 28, 1929 in Indore in a Maharashtrian Brahmin household. Her father was Deenanath Mangeshkar (Maharashtrian) and her mother Shudhamati (Gujarati). Deenanath was earlier married to Narmada, daughter of a wealthy business family from Gujarat. Their daughter was named Lata, who survived only nine months!
She loved riding the bicycle but never owned one. Her first car was a grey Hillman for Rs 8,000! Today, she drives in a Merc gifted by Yash Chopra.
Her first public performance was at age nine, in 1938 at Nutan theatre, Sholapur. She sang Raag Khambavati and two Marathi songs.
She's a fan of Bond movies. Her favourite film is The King and I, which she saw 16 times! Her favourite Hindi films are Trishul, Madhumati, Dilwale Dulhania Le Jaayenge, Sholay, Seeta Aur Geeta. She's seen Kismet over 50 times.
She never liked make-up and lights. Though she agreed to trim her eyebrows and hair for the film Pahili Mangalagaur, she broke down later.
She was allowed to sing only K L Saigal songs at home. Her father preferred classical music.
She bought her first radio when she was 18. But when she turned it on, the first thing she heard was K L Saigal had died. She returned it!
In the early days, she and Hemant Kumar used the same microphone. She had a problem singing with him because he was much taller than her and she needed a small box or stool to stand on to sing.
In 1962, she fell very ill and thought she would never be able to sing again. Medical reports revealed she was being slow poisoned by the cook, who sneaked off without collecting his pay.
She likes very spicy food with lots of chillies. She used to eat raw chillies, 12 at a time.
Once, while travelling by train to Bombay Talkies, Kishore Kumar, who got on at Mahalaxmi station, sat in her compartment and also hired a taanga there. She thought he was following her. That day they sang their first duet 'Ye kaun aya re karke sola singar' for Ziddi...
Loves to visit Los Angeles where she spends her nights playing the slot machines and drinking Coca-Cola!
The songstress maintained a diary for years. She wrote some stories and songs in Hindi but one day decided there was no point and tore it all up!
Lata went to school only for a day. When she was scolded by her teacher for bringing 10-month-old Asha to the class, she left never to return.
Self-taught, she learnt the alphabet and the basics from the family servant.
Her unfulfilled desires - never having met K L Saigal and never being able to sing for Dilip Kumar!
She likes listening to Mozart, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Chopin, Nat King Cole and The Beatles.
Dilip Kumar once said, "Is she Maharashtrian? Their Urdu pronunciation isn't correct and in their singing you can smell daalbhaat." Though terribly hurt, Lata started learning Urdu.
The melody queen loves photography. Her first camera was a Rolleiflex for Rs 1,200. A dog-lover, she once owned nine pet dogs, much to the chagrin of her mother.
She loves diamonds and emeralds. She got her first diamond ring in 1947 for Rs 700. She designed it herself. Doesn't like gold much but wears gold payals.
Lata is a perfectionist. She begins orchestra rehearsals two months prior to a concert. If a musician makes a mistake, she smiles to say "It happens. Carry on."
She was close to Nargis and Meena Kumari. She liked their ghagras and saris and often visited Nargis at home. She's fond of Nimmi, Sulochana, Waheeda Rehman and Rekha.
Madhubala had it put in her contract that Lata would sing for her.