Lata Mangeshkar's music career began in the 1940s when she sang the songs “Naachu Yaa Gade, Khelu Saari Mani Haus Bhaari” and “Natali Chaitraachi Navalaai” in the Marathi movies “Kiti Hasaal” and “Pahili Mangalaa-gaur” respectively. She began her Hindi singing career in 1943 with the song "Mata Ek Sapoot Ki Duniya Badal De Tu" for another Marathi movie.
Mangeshkar faced initial struggles in breaking into Bollywood movies due to her high-pitched voice. However, she broke onto the scene in 1948 and 1949 with songs in four hit movies. Ironically, her high-pitched voice was the catalyst for Bollywood movies to move away from bass singers with nasal voices.
The 1950s saw Mangeshkar work with music directors such as Anil Biswas and Naushad Ali. Songs such as “Ae Chorre Ki Jaat Badi Bewafa” came from her collaborations with Naushad. She also received a Filmfare Award for the song “Aaja Re Pardesi.”
She won a total of 12 Bengal Film Journalists' Association Awards, four Filmfare Awards , three National Film Awards and a Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award. The governments of Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra introduced awards in her name in 1984 and 1992.
Mangeshkar also composed music for five Marathi movies in the 1960s.