Lata Mangeshkar is undoubtedly one of the greatest artistes India has ever produced. The singer literally defined a female voice in Hindi cinema and became the chief inspiration to many legendary singers, including P. Susheela and S. Janaki, for playback singing.
How many know Lata Mangeshkar sang her first song in a Telugu movie? The main reason for her debut in Telugu was legendary music director Susarla Dakshinamurthy, who summoned her to Madras (now Chennai,) to sing for his movie Santhanam, which starred A. Nageswara Rao and Savitri in the lead.
Lata Mangeshkar came, rehearsed her lines and sang flawlessly in Telugu. The song was Nidurapora Thammuda, a lullaby with an undertone of pathos.
Lata Mangeshkar sang the female version of it, whereas Ghantasala sang the male version. The year was 1955 and the song became a trendsetter for Telugu lullabies.
Lata Mangeshkar’s second comeback in Tollywood
Maestro Ilaiyaraja, who was a well known composer in the South during the 1980s and 1990s, used Lata Mangeshkar’s voice in some of his Tamil and Telugu films. The 1988 movie Aakhari Poratam, a police drama by K. Raghavendra Rao, had its music by Ilaiyaraja. The song Tella Cheeraku Thakadhimi was a duet Lata Mangeshkar sang with S.P. Balasubrahmanyam, for Sridevi.
The third comeback in the Telugu film industry
Lata Mangeshkar rendered the anthology of some songs by Saint Annamacharya, for the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) Annamacharya Project. She sang seven Sanskrit songs by Annamacharya for TTD, which were recorded for posterity. The year was 2009.
A complete life: Awards galore
Lata Mangeshkar received every award the Indian Government could bestow on its citizens, including the Dadasaheb Phalke Award in 1989, the Padma Vibhushan in 1999 and the top honor of Bharat Ratna in 2001.
Having completed 90 years of an eventful life, Lata Mangeshkar is still an inspiration to many singers who enter playback singing in Hindi. This is her greatest triumph—guiding generations of singers in the art of playback singing.