She was born in Holkar city, Indore on September 8, 1929. As per prophesy of music director Master Ghulam Haider, she became the most popular playback singer in Bollywood’s history in no time. Sangeet Mahal reports that Lata’s childhood was not stable. After her father Master Dinanath’s death, she was adopted by Vinayak Damodar Karnataki, a close personal friend of the Mangeshkar family, godfather to the five siblings, Lata, Asha, Usha and Meena and brother Hardenath, and a rather famous moviemaker in his own right (better known as Master Vinayak, and also father of movie star Nanda). Master Vinayak desired to play a key role in helping Lata and Asha get started with their careers.
Lata’s first recording: Master Vinayak started the movie ‘Pahili Managalagaur’ and wanted Lata to sing, but he could not complete the movie. His efforts bore fruit and he succeeded with Vasant Joglekar, a script-writer/assistant director at Navyug to get Lata sing for the 1942 movie ‘Kiti Hasaal’. Finally, one day, music director Sadashivrao Nevrekar brought the shy thirteen year old into the recording studio. The Marathi song “Naachu Ya Gade Khelu Saari Mani Haus Bhari” is considered as Lata’s first recording. The song never saw the light of day. Despite this disappointment Master Vinayak at least sensed that the foundation had been laid for a new standard in good female singing. In 1945, the script-writer/director Vasant Joglekar was now directing the Hindi movie ‘Aap Ki Sewa Mein’. The movie took more than two years to get released, but its place in history was secured when Datta Davjekar announced the successful recording of ‘Paa Lagoon Kar Jori Re, Shyam Mo Se Na Khelo Hori Re’ the first released Lata song for any Indian movie in any language.
Master Vinayak also set the stage for the film ‘Bari Maa’ starring Nurjehan with other big stars of that time and at the bottom of the list entered Lata and Asha Mangeshkar. Datta Koregaonkar did the music. Incidentally the film ‘Bari Maa’ has one of the best collections of Nurjehan songs in a single movie before partition of India and hidden among these Nurjehan gems, there is a beautiful devotional song sung by Lata, Maata Tere Charnon Mein. The piece almost went unnoticed.
Master Vinayak’s role in boosting Lata’s career initially: In the years 1942-43, Master Vinayak launched Prafulla Pictures, his third and last motion picture studio. He planned to make six movies under this banner and also direct one movie under Shantaram’s Rajkamal Kalamandir, and he would also act in Shantaram’s ‘Dr. Kotnis Ki Amar Kahani’. Of the seven movies created by the Master in the remaining four years of his life (1943-47), the first three were in Marathi language and the remaining Hindi/Urdu. All these movies had insignificant role to play by Lata Mangeshkar. All these efforts at least laid a ground for Lata Mangeshkar to enter Bollywood.
Master Ghulam Haider’s role in discovering Lata as a singer: In a submission, Harjap Singh Aujla writes ‘music composer Master Ghulam Haider’s biggest discovery of singing sensations was in Lata Mangeshkar, whom he discovered not in Lahore, but in 1947 in Bombay. It was a chance meeting between a future singer and a brilliant talent hunter. Like everyone else high and low, while commuting between one recording studio and another in Bombay’s famous electric railway, Master Ghulam Haider saw a frail and anemic looking female teenager mumbling something, perhaps in Marathi. The voice appeared to be very shrill and sweet. Ghulam Haider asked her to sing on his tune. He quickly improvised a tune and asked the girl to sing. The girl rendered the raw tune quite proficiently. An obviously elated Ghulam Haider introduced himself as a music director and asked the girl to show up on a given day for an audition in one of the recording studios. The excited girl reached the studio much before time and waited patiently for her turn. The audition went off smoothly and the girl was approved as a play-back singer. This teenager was none other than the famous icon Lata Mangeshkar. This is how the honour of discovering India’s most brilliant and most prolific singer Lata Mangeshkar went to a music director from Lahore. Ghulam Haider shared the news of his new discovery with two other great composers of film music Anil Biswas and Khem Chand Prakash. Soon the word of mouth spread in the tinsel town and the first set of music directors who came forward to groom Lata Mangeshkar as a playback singer included mostly Punjabis, who had migrated to Bombay from Lahore during the 1940s. Master Ghulam Haider used Lata Mangeshkar’s voice in film “Majboor” (1948). Somehow Lata’s Ghulam Haider tunes did not become very popular. Punjabi block-buster film “Chaman” was planned in Lahore in 1947, but owing to exploding communal strife in the city, the shooting of the film could not even start.
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