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This article was first published 2 years ago  » Movies » Just How Many Songs Did Lataji Sing?

Just How Many Songs Did Lataji Sing?

Source: PTI
February 07, 2022 11:08 IST
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Photograph: PTI Photo

Lata Mangeshkar will always remain one of the towering figures of Indian music and it is often claimed that she recorded songs that run into tens of thousands.

However, the exact numbers of the songs recorded by Mangeshkar has some ambiguity.

Regarded as one of Indian cinema's greatest playback singers, Mangeshkar started her career at the age of 13 in 1942.

In her almost eight-decade-long career, she sang a host of memorable tracks, including Ajeeb Dastan Hai Ye, Pyar Kiya To Darna Kya and Neela Asman So Gaya and Rahe Na Rahe Hum.

Back in 1974, Mangeshkar's name was associated with The Guinness Book of Records after the legendary singer was listed as the most recorded artist in history.

The organisation had stated that Mangeshkar had reportedly recorded 'not less than 25,000 solo, duets and chorus backed songs in 20 Indian languages' from 1948 to 1974.

At the time, another music legend, Mohammad Rafi, had disputed the claim and made a case for himself, insisting that he had recorded more songs than Mangeshkar.

In 1991, The Guinness Book of Records once again listed Mangeshkar as the most recorded artist in the world with not less than '30,000 solo, duet and chorus-backed songs' recorded in 20 Indian languages between 1948 and 1987.

The record, however, was removed in 1991 by The Guinness Book of Records without any explanation.


Photograph: Kind courtesy Asha Bhonsle/Instagram

Currently, Mangeshkar's sister Asha Bhosle is listed on The Guinness World Records for the record 'Most studio recordings - singles'.

The record, which she holds since 2011, stated that Bhosle has 'reportedly recorded up to 11,000 solo, duet and chorus backed songs in over 20 Indian languages' since 1947.

The Web site has listed Most studio recordings, singles and albums combined as held by South playback singer Pulapaka Susheela Mohan.

The organisation states that Mohan has 'reportedly recorded up to 17,695 solo, duet and chorus backed songs in over six Indian languages since the 1960s, as verified on 28 January 2016'.

Though the exact number of songs recorded by Mangeshkar is a matter of debate, the legendary singer never cared about the figures herself.

There were many songs that remain unreleased and even lost, but Mangeshkar, in an interview with PTI in 2021, said she has no record of her unreleased songs.

"Recently, I heard one of my songs, which is unreleased. What happens is that sometimes there are too many songs in a movie and it hinders the flow of the film. So they remove the song and try to put it in another film. But if it does not fit, it just stays in storage and people forget about it with time. But it's not possible for me to look for them, it should be done by someone else," Mangeshkar had said.

"Also, it is not always possible to get them released. Sometimes the producer does not give permission or the film stays unreleased or the lyricist does not agree… there are many such hindrances," she pointed out.

But one such song, Theek Nahi Lagta, was found 20 years later and released by Vishal Bhardwaj in 2021 on Mangeshkar's 92nd birthday. The lyrics were written by Gulzar, who has had a long association with the music legend.

In her lifetime, Mangeshkar, who was regarded as Melody Queen of India, was awarded with Bharat Ratna, India's highest civilian honour, as well as the Padma Bhushan, the Padma Vibhushan and the Dadasaheb Phalke Award.

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