Lata Mangeshkar, a living icon, whose voice has made millions fall in love with music. Her voice managed to reach people throughout the nation and beyond, at a time when social media was not a thing, and it was solely because her skill was limitless and of the greatest calibre. In a recent interview, she talked about her journey and offer some advice to budding singers.
Lata Mangeshkar has a long list of achievements to her name. She was the first Indian to perform at London’s Royal Albert Hall, and she has received the Bharat Ratna as well as three national honours. She is an inspiration to many budding singers, and her story is as captivating as her music.
According to Lata Ji, nothing in life is free, and if you want to achieve something, you must learn to confront challenges and overcome them.
Lata Ji shares: ‘My struggle was not for me. It was for my family. I was very young, only 13 when my father passed away. As the eldest child the responsibility of looking after my siblings, my three sisters, and a brother fell on me. Since singing was all I knew I set out to recording studios all over Mumbai in my cotton saree and chappals, traveling from one end of the city to the other by train, often on an empty stomach. Kind composers like Naushad Saab and Sajjad Hussain Saab would offer me lunch.’
She continued: ‘How can you sing about suffering if you haven’t been through it? Generations nowadays have things pretty simple. Computers are used to record songs. In our day, live recordings featured up to 100 orchestra musicians performing live. Rafi Saab, Kishoreda, and I shared the microphone when we performed duets. A duet is now recorded on two continents. It’s as though the emotions have vanished.’
Her advice to aspiring vocalists is as follows: ‘Imitating Rafi Saab, Kishore Da, Asha or me is okay, to begin with. But you have to find your own voice as soon as possible. This is why cover versions of old classics are inadvisable. An imitation is an imitation. It cannot take you anywhere worth going to. Find your own voice. Learn Indian classical music, know the ragas, and practice…Do riyaaz every single day. I, unfortunately, became so busy that I neglected my riyaaz. It is the one regret I have as a singer. I wish I had made time for my riyaaz every day. My advice to young singers is, treat your voice as a temple.’