Lata Mangeshkar always keeps with her a handful of chewing gums,which helps her keep her throat supple. She eats a lot of chillies to keep her voice sweet...well, these are just some interesting facts about Lataji,Indias legendary singer.She has so much to recall about her illustrious musical career spanning for almost sixty years. The clout she has today ,was not achieved overnight.She started her film career at a tender age of thirteen to shoulder the responsiblities of a large family.Gulam Haider ,her mentor and patron gave her the first major break through the song :dil mera toda" in majboor. She was discovered while waiting for the local train in Malad.Haider composed the tune of "dil mera toda" on the spot and asked her to sing.Soon she proved all her detractors wrong by recording one hit song after the other in her beguiling dulcet voice.She was a welcome change to the ears of both the connoisseur and common man used to hearing heavy nasal tones of the singers of the time like Noorjehan,Shamshad Begum etc. "Aayega aanewala “ ,a haunting melody from ‘Mahal’ was a trendsetter and proved to be a turning point in the careers of Lataji and Madhubala on whom the song was picturised. Musician Kemchand Prakash asked Lataji to slowly advance from one corner of the large studio to the mike placed in the centre while singing so as to create the affect of the heroine approaching from a distance.Remember, those were the days when such tactics had to adopted for want of any technical gadgets and editing devices of today. Actress jaya Bachan has rightly said that "her voice defined feminine beauty", as no other singer can celebrate the myriad emotions portrayed on the celluloid like Lataji. Who else can epitomize the pain in rebellious love as effectively as Lataji in the song "pyar kiya to darna kya" in Mugal E Azam The awe inspiring patriotic song "Ae mere waten ke logo" composed by C.Ramachandra has gone into the annals of hisory as it is said to have made Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru cry. In a recent interview,Lataji revealed that after her rendition Nehruji had summoned her to him and had merely said "daughter you moved me to tears".Media in a frenzy had reported that ,Nehruji "cried"....After this Lataji used to amusedly watch one or two front benchers unabashedly crying whenever she sang the song on stage. R.D Burman has done only a handful songs with her. A memorable one among them being “bahon me chale aao..” from Anamika which was shot in the night. Lataji had to sing in hushed tones to allude to the silence of the night. The song " aapki nazrone samjah "from Anpadh also has a story to tell about its creation.While lataji was singing, one of the musicians in the orchestra was not coming upto music director Madan Mohans expectations, inspite of repeated rehearsals.He flared up, broke the glass partition of the orchestral enclave accusing the musician of treachery to his art. “This commitment is lacking nowadays”, sighs Lataji. In fact this concern has been voiced by her very often in the recent times.She misses the golden era of Indian music when there was total dedication and love for the art.. “Hit songs are made even now,but the difference is that the hit songs of those days are heard ,sung and discussed even now ,where as the hit songs of today do not live for more than a year and are then forgotten" says Lataji. She has tales to tell of generations of composers and actors.For example she has sung for Anand -Milind sons of Chitra Gupt,AnuMalik son of Sardar Malik, Roshan and his son Rakesh Roshan..She has lent voice to mother and daughter,Shobana Samarth -Tanuja-Kajol.,Nazeera Banu- Saira Banu to name a few.The names of some yesteryear composers and actors would have faded into oblivion if not for her renditions .Pt Narendra Sharma lives through his song'' jYothi kalsh Chalke", just like composer Ramlal through his song" pang hothi tho udu jathire".This song had tested her knwledge of the swaras due to its high octave.But then only Lataji could have done full justice to what the composer had envisioned as she can sing in three octaves; a feat which many other established singers cannot accomplish. An" ode to this nightingale" is like flowers offered at the feet of the Goddess of music. " There is only one sun.one moon and one LATA" says poet and lyricist Jaaved AktarI.Indeed Lataji has transcended the barriers of time,and language to be immortalised in every Indians mind.