'Melody queen' Lata Mangeshkar turns 80

 
Lata Mangeshkar. AFP“I want to continue singing till my last breath,” Lata, who has over 30,000 songs to her credit in 20 languages, said. She recalled her meeting with Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru after her emotion-charged patriotic song, “Ae mere watan ke logon,” was released. “Beti, you made me cry,” he told her. “I really wanted to be a classical singer when I started working,” says Lata but gave up as she couldn’t put in long hours of practice that was required and had many responsibilities.

Those were testing times when she remained hungry for the entire day. “Everyone went for lunch but I was in the recording room and left only after it was over. I had only one or two rupees. I used to walk instead of taking a tonga to save money. I didn’t want to trouble anyone at home”. Taking a trip down memory lane, she said, “Anybody will feel good but now that I have turned 80, I feel extremely great. It’s always a charm to age gracefully.”
“I don’t like to cut cakes. When I was young, my mother would prepare sweets and put tilak on my forehead,” she fondly remembered. The icon spent the day with close family members and attending to calls from well-wishers. Special albums were brought out in her honour by music companies.

Named Hridaya at birth, her parents however named her Lata after the character Latika from her father’s play Bhaw Bandhan. Receiver of the nation’s highest civilian award, Bharat Ratna in 2001, Lata has featured in The Guinness Book of Records and won international accolades.

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