Early career in the 1940s
In 1942, when Mangeshkar was 13, her father died of heart disease. Master Vinayak (Vinayak Damodar Karnataki), the owner of Navyug Chitrapat movie company and a close friend of the Mangeshkar family, took care of them.
Mangeshkar sang the song "Naachu Yaa Gade, Khelu Saari Mani Haus Bhaari" which was composed by Sadashivrao Nevrekar for Vasant Joglekar's Marathi-language movie Kiti Hasaal (1942), but the song was dropped from the final cut. Vinayak gave her a small role in Navyug Chitrapat's Marathi movie Pahili Mangalaa-gaur (1942), in which she sang "Natali Chaitraachi Navalaai" which was composed by Dada Chandekar. Her first Hindi song was "Mata Ek Sapoot Ki Duniya Badal De Tu" for the Marathi film, Gajaabhaau (1943). Mangeshkar moved to Mumbai in 1945 when Master Vinayak's company moved its headquarters there. She started taking lessons in Hindustani classical music from Ustad Amanat Ali Khan Bhendibazaarwale. She sang “Paa Lagoon Kar Jori” for Vasant Joglekar's Hindi-language movie Aap Ki Seva Mein (1946), which was composed by Datta Davjekar. Mangeshkar and her sister Asha played minor roles Vinayak's first Hindi-language movie, Badi Maa (1945). In that movie, Lata also sang a bhajan, “Maata Tere Charnon Mein.” She was introduced to music director Vasant Desai during the recording of Vinayak's second Hindi-language movie, Subhadra (1946).
Following the partition of India in 1947, Ustad Amanat Ali Khan Bhendibazaarwale migrated to newly formed Pakistan, so Mangeshkar started to learn classical music under Amanat Khan Devaswale. Pandit Tulsidas Sharma, a pupil of Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan, also trained her.
After Vinayak's death in 1948, music director Ghulam Haider mentored her as a singer. Haider introduced Mangeshkar to producer Sashadhar Mukherjee, who was working then on the movie Shaheed (1948), but Mukherjee dismissed Mangeshkar's voice as "too thin."An annoyed Haider responded that in the coming years the producers and the directors would "fall at Lata's feet" and "beg her" to sing in their movies. Haider gave Lata her first major break with the song “Dil Mera Toda,” from the movie Majboor (1948).
Initially, Mangeshkar is said to have imitated Noor Jehan, but later she developed her own style of singing. Lyrics of songs in Hindi movies are primarily composed by Urdu poets and contain a higher proportion of Urdu words, including the dialogue. Actor Dilip Kumar once made a mildly disapproving remark about Mangeshkar's Maharashtrian accent while singing Hindi/Urdu songs; so for a period of time, Lata took lessons in Urdu from an Urdu teacher named Shafi.
“Aayega Aanewaala,” a song in the movie Mahal (1949) was composed by music director Khemchand Prakash and lip-synced on screen by actress Madhubala.
In the 1950s, Mangeshkar sang songs composed by various music directors of the period, including Anil Biswas (in films such as Tarana and Heer), Shankar-Jaikishan, Naushad, S. D. Burman, C. Ramchandra, Hemant Kumar, Salil Chowdhury, Khayyam, Ravi, Sajjad Hussain, Roshan, Kalyanji-Anandji, Vasant Desai, Sudhir Phadke, Hansraj Behl, Madan Mohan, and Usha Khanna.
Mangeshkar sang many raga-based songs for Naushad in movies such as Baiju Bawra (1952), Mughal-E-Azam (1960), and Kohinoor (1960). Ae Chorre Ki Jaat Badi Bewafa, a duet with G. M. Durrani, was her first song for composer, Naushad. The duo, Shankar-Jaikishan, chose Mangeshkar for Aag, Aah (1953), Shree 420 (1955), and Chori Chori (1956). Before 1957, composer Sachin Dev (S. D.) Burman chose Mangeshkar as the leading female singer for his musical scores in Sazaa (1951), House No. 44 (1955), and Devdas (1955). However a rift developed between Lata and Burman in 1957, and Lata did not sing Burman's compositions again until 1962.
Mangeshkar won a Filmfare Best Female Playback Award for Salil Chowdhury's composition “Aaja Re Pardesi,” from Madhumati (1958). In the early fifties, Lata Mangeshkar's association with C. Ramchandra produced songs in movies such as Anarkali, Albela, Asha, Pehli Jhhalak, Shin Shinkai Bublaa Boo, Azad and Amardeep. For Madan Mohan, she performed for films like Adalat, Railway Platform, Dekh Kabira Roya and Chacha Zindabad.
1980s onwards1980s onwards
From 1980s onwards, Lata Mangeshkar worked with music directors including Shiv-Hari, Ram Laxman, and A. R. Rahman. She recorded some non-film songs, including ghazals with Jagjit Singh.
In 1990, Mangeshkar launched her own production house for Hindi movies which produced the Gulzar-directed movie Lekin.... She won her third National Film Award for Best Female Playback Singer for her rendition of the song "Yaara Sili Sili" from the film, which was composed by her brother Hridayanath. During the 1990s, she recorded with music directors including Jatin-Lalit and Nadeem-Shravan. She has sung for Rajshri Productions, including Maine Pyar Kiya (1989) and Hum Aapke Hain Kaun (1994).
Mangeshkar has sung for almost all the Yash Chopra films and films from his production house Yash Raj Films at that time, including Chandni (1989), Lamhe (1991), Darr (1993), Yeh Dillagi (1994), Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge (1995), Dil To Pagal Hai (1997) and later on Mohabbatein (2000), Mujhse Dosti Karoge (2002) and Veer Zaara (2004).
A. R. Rahman recorded a few songs with Mangeshkar during this period, including "Jiya Jale" (Dil Se), "Khamoshiyan Gungunane Lagin" (One Two Ka Four), "Ek Tu Hi Bharosa" (Pukar), "Pyaara Sa Gaon" (Zubeidaa), "Lukka chuppi" (Rang de Basanti) and "O Paalanhaare" (Lagaan). She made an appearance in the film Pukar singing this song.
In 1999, Lata Eau de Parfum, a perfume brand named after her, was launched.
In 1999, Mangeshkar was nominated as a member of Rajya Sabha.. However, she did not attend the Rajya Sabha sessions regularly, inviting criticism from several members of the House, including the Deputy Chairperson Najma Heptullah, Pranab Mukherjee and Shabana Azmi. She stated the reason for her absence as ill-health; it was also reported that she had not taken a salary, allowance or a house in Delhi for being a Member of Parliament.
In 2001, Lata Mangeshkar was awarded Bharat Ratna, India's highest civilian honor. In the same year, she established the Master Deenanath Mangeshkar Hospital in Pune, managed by the Lata Mangeshkar Medical Foundation (founded by the Mangeshkar family in October 1989). In 2005, she designed a jewellery collection called Swaranjali, which was crafted by Adora, an Indian diamond export company. Five pieces from the collection raised £105,000 at a Christie's auction, and a part of the money was donated for the 2005 Pakistan earthquake relief. Also in 2001, she recorded her first Hindi song with the composer Ilaiyaraaja, for the film Lajja; she had earlier recorded Tamil and Telugu songs composed by Ilaiyaraaja.
Lata Mangeshkar's song "Wada Na Tod" is in the film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) and on the film's soundtrack.
On June 21, 2007, she released an album Saadgi, featuring eight ghazal-like songs written by Javed Akhtar and composed by Mayuresh Pai