In 1949, Lata got her big break with the song Aayega Aanewaala from the movie Mahal. The film was a hit and proved to be a turning point in the careers of Madhubala and Lata. The other major movie that made an impact was Raj Kapoor`s "Barsaat" with music by Shankar-Jaikishan and hits such as Jiya beqarar hai
and Chhod gaye baalam
The 1950s saw Lata become a favorite singer of composers like Shankar Jaikishan, Sachin Dev Burman, C. Ramchandra, Madan Mohan, Hemant Kumar and Salil Chowdhury amongst others. Composer Sachin Dev Burman, lyricist Sahir Ludhianvi and Lata created many songs together including Tum na jaane kis jahaan mein kho gaye
(Sazaa, 1951) and Phaili hui hain sapnon ki baahein
(House No. 44).
Lata and composer Hemant Kumar came up with hit song. The movie was Nagin and the been tunes from that film are still recognized today. Man dole mera tan dole, Jadugar saiyyan, Mera dil yeh pukaare aaja, Oonchi oonchi deewaaren
and other songs were rendered by Lata. Another song, Chhup gaya koi re
, from the film Champakali that she sang for Hemant Kumar was moving. Another popular song was Vande Maataram
that she sang for Hemantda in Anandmath. She went on to sing many hits for him in the 60`s - for films like Anupama, Bees Saal Baad, Kohraa, Bin Baadal Barsaat, Rahgir, Khamoshi, etc.
A popular song of the early 50s by Lata, Durrani and chorus was the Lara lappa Lara lappa
song from the film Ek Thi Ladki composed by musician Vinod. The song became so popular that the actress of the film, Meena Shorey, on whom the song was picturized became known as the Lara lappa Lara lappa girl.
Many of Lata`s popular songs were recorded in the 1940s and the 1950s with the team of composer C. Ramchandra and lyricist Rajendra Krishan. Songs from this trio include - Yeh zindagi usiki hai, Mohabbat aisi dhadkan hai, Jaag dard ishq jaag, O aasman waale
- all from the musical blockbuster hit Anarkali; Radha na bole na bole, Kitna haseen hai mausam, Aplam chaplam
- all from Azaad ; Shola jo bhadke, Dheere se aaja ri akhiyan mein, Bholi soorat dil ke khote, Dil dhadke nazar sharmaaye, Mere dil ki ghadi kare
- all from Albela. In addition, Lata and Amirbai Karnataki rendered the westernized song Gore gore o baanke chhore
for C Ramchandra in the film Samadhi. Lata went on to render songs for C Ramchandra, right from Mehfil mein jal uthi shama
(Nirala), the romantic O nirdayee preetam
(Stree) to the nostalgic Dil ki duniya basake sanwariya
and Mere man ka baawra panchi
(Amar Deep) numbers and the Balma anadi man bhaaye
classical composition from the film Bahuraani.
Lata sang some of her best known songs for the team of composers Shankar Jaikishan and lyricists Hasrat Jaipuri and Shailendra. Jiya bekaraar hai
(Barsaat, 1949), Rasik Balma
(Chori Chori, 1956), the title song of Hariyali Aur Raasta
(duet with Mukesh), and Gumnaam hai koi
(Gumnaam), all penned by Hasrat, were hits. Shailendra`s Ajeeb Daastaan hai yeh
(Dil Apna Preet Parai), Tum to dil ke taar chhedkar
(Roop ki Rani Choron Ka Raja), and Kisi ne apna banake mujhko
(Patita) were popular as well. Raj Kapoor always had the team of Shankar-Jaikishan, Hasrat, Shailendra, Mukesh and Lata for the music of his films. Lata`s romantic duets with the singer Manna Dey for Raj Kapoor`s films were popular - Pyaar hua ikraar hua
and Yeh raat bheegi bheegi
Shailendra and Lata also teamed up with composer Salil Chowdhury to create music for Bimal Roy movies such as Madhumati (1958) and Parakh (1960). Lata recorded some of her most memorable songs with Salil Chowdhury, including Raaton ke saaye, Chhoti si baat, O Sajna barkha bahaar aayee
(Parakh), Aaja re pardesi
(Madhumati), and Itna tu mujhse na pyaar badhaa
(Chhaya, duet with Talat Mehmood, penned by Rajendra Krishan).
Lata`s playback songs for Madhubala - Mohe panghat
and Jab pyaar kiya to darna kya
from the movie Mughal-e-Azam (1960) -- became hits. The songs were penned by Shakil Badayuni and composed by Naushad.
In 1962, Lata sang the non-film patriotic song Aye mere watan ke logon
at a function. The composer was C. Ramchandra and the lyricist was poet Pradeep. The song moved Indian Prime Minister, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, to tears.
Lata proved her versatility when she sang the Middle-Eastern number Aye Dilruba
(Roustam Sohrab, 1963) for the composer Sajjad Hussain. Hasrat Jaipuri, Shankar Jaikishan and Lata continued to create hits like Ehsaan tera hoga mujh par
(Junglee, 1961). Lata and Shankar-Jaikishan also teamed up with lyricist Shailendra to create songs like Ruk ja raat thahar ja re chanda
(Dil Ek Mandir, 1963) and Tumhen yaad karte karte
(Amrapali, 1966). Lata`s bhajan Allah tero Naam
(Hum dono, 1961), penned by Sahir Ludhiyanvi and composed by Sachin Dev Burman`s assistant Jaidev, became popular. Lata also recorded other songs with Jaidev, including Yeh dil aur unki nigahon ke saaye
Shailendra, S D Burman and Lata came together again for Jewel Thief (1967). The songs Rula ke gaya sapna mera
and Hothon pe aisi baat
became popular. The film also saw Mohammed Rafi
and Lata coming together once again to sing Dil pukaare aa re
. (Earlier, they had fallen out with other on the issue of payment of royalties). Lata also sang for the 1969 movie, Aradhana, in which she recorded Kora Kaagaz tha yeh man mera
with Kishore Kumar.
Lata also recorded many songs with composer Roshan. In 1966, they recorded a song penned by Majrooh Sultanpuri - Rahein na rahein hum, Mehka karenge
(Mamta). In 1967, Roshan and Lata worked with the lyricist Sahir Ludhiyanvi for the film Bahu Begam. The song Duniya kare sawal to hum kya javaab de became popular.
The musical duo Kalyanji-Anandji had first worked with Lata as the assistants of Shankar-Jaikishan. When they decided to compose music independently, they chose Lata as their lead female voice. The songs of the film Saraswati Chandra (1968), written by Indeevar, are examples of music that the team created. The most popular songs of the movie included Phool tumhe bheji hai khat mein
(duet with Mukesh
), Chandan sa badan
and Chhod de saari duniya kisike liye
. Kalyanji-Anandji worked with Lata to create many more songs like O mere mitwa
(Geet). Kalyanji-Anandji also composed lyricist Anand Bakshi`s first hit song with Lata, Yeh sama
(Jab Jab Phool Khile, 1965). Anand Bakshi`s most famous songs were sung by Lata.
In the film Shagird (1967), Lata and Laxmi-Pyare displayed their versatility, when they created the Bhajan Kanha aan padi main tere dwaar
and the romantic Woh hain zara khafa khafa
. The songs were written by Majrooh Sultanpuri. In 1969, Laxmi-Pyare got Lata to sing the sensual Aa Jaanen Jaan
(Intadam, 1969), penned by Rajendra Krishan. The team of Anand Bakshi, LP and Lata became popular in late 1960s and 1970s. Their songs include Saavan ka mahina, pavan kare sor
(Milan, 1967, duet with Mukesh) Bindiya Chamkegi
(Do Raaste, 1969), and the title song of Aan Milo Sajna.
Lata recorded Baharon mera jeevan bhi savaron for composer Khayyam and lyricist Kaifi Azmi in the movie Aakhiri Khat (1966). Kaifi Azmi and Madan Mohan worked together in movies like Heer-Ranjha. Together with Lata, they produced songs like Milo na tum to hum ghabraayein
. Lata sang many ghazals for the team of composer Madan Mohan and lyricist Raja Mehendi Ali Khan. Some of these include Aap ki nazron ne samjha
(Anpadh, 1962), Nainon mein badra chhaye
and Mera saaya saath hoga
(Mera Saaya, 1966). Madan Mohan and Lata also worked with other lyricists like Kaifi Azmi and Rajendra Krishna. Even O. P. Nayyar, who had a bitter relationship with Lata once said, while giving an interview in Dubai:"I don`t know whether Lata was created for Madan Mohan or Madan Mohan was created for Lata. But there has never been a composer like Madan Mohan, nor has there been a singer like Lata."
In 1960s, S D Burman`s son, Rahul Dev Burman, also made his debut as a composer. He recorded many songs with Lata in late 1960s, including Kya janoon sajan
(Baharon Ke Sapne, 1967) and Ni sultana re, pyar ka mausam aaya
(Pyaar Ka Mausam, 1969, duet with Rafi).
1971 saw release of much delayed movie Pakeezah, starring Meena Kumari. The film had music by Ghulam Mohammed. The Kaifi Azmi song Chalte Chalte, rendered by Lata, became a hit. Other songs such as Inhi logon ne le lina dupatta mera
and Chalo dildar chalo
(duet with Rafi) also became popular.
The songs from Sharmilee (1971), also penned by Neeraj, included Khilte hain gul yahan, Aaj madhosh hua jaaye re
(duet with Kishore Kumar), and Megha chhaye aadhi raat
. S D Burman got 44-year-old Lata to sing for young Jaya Bachchan in the movie Abhimaan (1973) - Piya bina, piya bina, Nadiya kinare, Teri bindiya re
(duet with Rafi). All these songs were written by Majrooh Sultanpuri.
Lata also recorded memorable songs for Salil Chaudhary in 1970s, including Raaton ke Saaye
(Annadata, 1971) and the title song of Chhoti Si Baat (1974)
. In 1974, Lata also recorded a bhajan of Mirabai, Saanware Rang Rachi
with her brother, Hridaynath Mangeshkar.
Lata sang a variety of songs for R D Burman, including the classical song from Amar Prem 1971, Raina Beeti Jaaye, Dilbar dil se pyaare
from Caravan (1971), and Bahon mein chale aao
. Lata, Kishore Kumar, R D Burman and lyricist Gulzar came together in the film Aandhi (1975) to produce duets such as Tere bina zindagi se, Tum aa gaye ho
and Is mod se jaate hain.
Lata, Anand Bakshi and Laxmikant-Pyarelal worked together for many films, creating songs including Mehboob ki Mehendi and Main Tulsi Tere Aangan Ki. Laxmi-Pyare also gave music in Raj Kapoor`s Satyam Shivam Sunderam (1978), in which Lata sang the title song. In 1976, Lata recorded songs for composer Khayyam and lyricist Sahir Ludhiyanvi for the film Kabhi Kabhie (1976). The title song (also sung by Mukesh) is considered a classic.
In 1980s, Lata voluntarily cut down on her singing to allow new younger talent to come up. In 1982, Lata once again worked with Khayyam for the movie Razia Sultana, singing the song Aye dil-e-naadaan
. Aye dil-e nadan
was sung by Bela Sulakhe. Ravindra Jain, the blind composer who was given a big break by Raj Kapoor in Ram Teri Ganga Maili, got Lata to sing popular songs like Sun Saiba Sun
In 1990, Lata launched her own production house. Her song Yaara seeli seeli
, written by Gulzar, is considered to be one of the best songs that Lata has ever sung. Lata also recorded many non-film songs, including ghazals with Jagjit Singh. One such ghazal is Dhuan banake fiza mein
, recorded in 1992. The songs that Lata recorded for Ramlaxman in the Rajshri Productions film Hum Aapke Hain Kaun were hits. Lata also sang for all of the Yash Chopra films, including Dil To Pagal Hai. A. R. Rahman has recorded a number of songs with Lata, including Jiya Jale
(Dil Se) and Khamoshiyan Gungunane Lagi
(from One Two ka Four).
Lata has continued to perform in later years. She sings some of her old songs on the Mujhse Dosti Karoge soundtrack. A more recent example is in the film Veer Zaara-Tere Liye
with Roopkumar Rathod, with songs composed by late Madan Mohan. She has also sung a few songs for movies like Page 3, Bewafaa and Rang De Basanti.