Described as India’s nightingale, India announced two days of official mourning for the passing of what many see as a figure whose stature is unlikely to ever be surpassed…
By Rodrigues C
INDIA goes to sleep this evening with a broken heart.
Lata Mangeshkar – one of the greatest singers to have emerged from the country was cremated earlier today (February 6) in Mumbai. She had been in hospital since the end of last month, was 92 and succumbed to multiple organ failure this morning.
Thousands turned out for her funeral in Shivaji Park and India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi flew in from Delhi. It was a full state funeral and there are now two days of official mourning with all flags on national buildings flying at half-mast. Maharashtra, the state where she lived all her life, has declared a public holiday tomorrow (February 7) in her memory.
In a career spanning 70 years, Mangeshkar recorded over 25,000 songs in 36 Indian languages, sang in countless Bollywood films, won numerous accolades including India’s highest civilian award, the prestigious Bharat Ratna, the Dadasaheb Phalke award, the French Legion of Honour, five Maharashtra State Film Awards and three National Film Awards.
India’s President Ram Nath Kovind, the Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu, Prime Minister Narendra Modi as well as Bollywood stars Salman Khan, Akshay Kumar, Dharmendra, Anil Kapoor, Ajay Devgn and composer AR Rahman and cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar all paid tributes to Mangeshkar. Thousands, including several Bollywood stars, attended the singer’s funeral in Mumbai today.
Oscar-winning film composer and musician AR Rahman posted a tribute to Mangeshkar (who was affectionately known more recently as Lata Didi and also Lataji) on his Youtube and Instagram accounts.Fkavi He had met her many times.
He said: “Lataji is not just a singer, not just an icon, I think (she is) a part of the soul, a part of the consciousness of India, Hindustani music, Hindi poetry, Urdu poetry, Bengali and so many other languages she sang in, And this void is going to remain forever for all of us.”
Bollywood legend Amitabh Bachchan commented: “The voice of a million centuries has left us…her voice resounds now in the Heavens.”
Popular current Hindi playback singer, Shreya Ghoshal, who has more than seven million followers on Twitter reacted: “Feeling numb. Devastated. Yesterday was Saraswati Puja (Hindu festival celebrating the goddess of learning & culture) and today Ma took her blessed one with her. Somehow it feels even the birds, trees and wind are silent today….your divine voice will echo till eternity. Rest in peace. Om Shanti.
Bollywood icon Sharmila Tagore told India’s NDTV that Mangeshkar’s voice would live on for eternity, even if she was no longer here in physical form.
Born on September 28, 1929, in Indore, in central India, Mangeshkar, along with her four siblings — three sisters Meena, Asha Bhosle and Usha and a brother Hridaynath — were raised in Kolhapur, about 250 miles south of Mumbai.
Her father, Marathi theatre veteran Dinanath Mangeshkar originally named her Hema but later changed it to Lata, a character in one of his plays. Mangeshkar was exposed to music at an early age as her father, who was a musician from the Gwalior gharana (school), owned a drama company. After quitting school on the first day itself, she started taking classical music lessons from her father and took a keen interest in the way he conducted his classes. In 1938, at the age of nine, she sang two Marathi songs and ‘Raag Khambavati’ at the Nutan Theatre, Sholapur.
Tragedy struck in 1942, when her father died of a heart attack. At 13, Mangeshkar, who was the eldest, became the sole bread-earner for her family. A close family friend, Master Vinayak, who owned the Navyug Chitrapat movie company, helped the Mangeshkars in their difficult times. He made sure Mangeshkar became a singer as well as an actor.
Mangeshkar’s first break came in the form of the song, ‘Naachu yaa gade, khelu saari mani haus bhaari’ for the 1942 Marathi film ‘Kiti Hasaal.’ The song didn’t make the final cut but Vinayak made sure her second song, ‘Natali chaitraachi navalaai’ was part of his Marathi production ‘Pahili Mangalagaur’. Mangeshkar even played a cameo in the film; she’s also featured in movies such as ‘Chhatrapati Shivaji‘ ‘(1952), ‘Mandir‘ (1948), ‘Maze Baal‘ (1943) and ‘Badi Maa‘ (1945).
Mangeshkar moved to Mumbai in 1945 and started training in Hindustani Classical Music with Ustad Aman Ali Khan of the Bhindibazaar Gharana. After Khan’s death, Mangeshkar started training under composer Ghulam Haider, who introduced her to filmmaker Sashadhar Mukherjee. But Mukherjee, who had just set up Mumbai’s now famous Filmistan Studio back then, rejected Mangeshkar’s voice. Disappointed with Mukherjee’s decision Haider took it upon himself to find work for Mangeshkar. Haider’s composition ‘Dil mera toda O mujhe kahin ka na chhoda’ for the 1948 movie ‘Majboor’ soon became Mangeshkar’s first Hindi hit.
The following year, the Khemchad Prakash composition, ‘Aayega aanewala’, from ‘Mahal’ catapulted her into mainstream Hindi cinema. The song became a rage and broke records at Radio Ceylon. Since the gramophone company that released the song only carried the name of the character that sung the track in ‘Mahal’, people started flocking to its offices.
The roaring success of ‘Mughal-e-Azam’ (1960), a film in which Mangeshkar is credited with the hit ballad ‘Pyar kiya toh darna kya’, ‘Allah tero naam ishwar tero naam’ from ‘Hum Dono’ (1961), and ‘Piya tose naina laage’ and ‘Aaj phir jeene ki tamanna’ from ‘Guide’ (1965) brought more fame.
Writer Kavi Pradeep and composer C Ramchandra’s patriotic single ‘Aye mere watan ke logo’, which commemorated the deaths of Indian soldiers during the 1962 Sino-Indian war captured the imagination of a grieving India.
Mangeshkar even performed to the song on India’s Republic Day in 1963, which was attended among others by the country’s then President Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan and Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.
From here, there was no looking back.
She became the most sought-after name in the singing profession. Producers, composers, actors started making a beeline to have her on their projects. She worked with composers such as Ravi, Khayyam, Hemant Kumar, Anil Biswas, Shankar Jaikishan, C Ramachandra, Naushad, Salil Chowdhury, Roshan, Jaidev, Madan Mohan and SD Burman.
Her biggest hits include ‘Mera Saaya Saath Hoga’ from ‘Mera Saaya’ (1966), ‘Hothon mein aisi baat’ from ‘Jewel Thief’ (1967), ‘Kora kagaz tha yeh man mera’ from ‘Aradhana’ (1969), ‘Tere bina zindagi se’ from ‘Aandhi’ (1975) , ‘Hum bane tum bane’ from ‘Ek Duuje Ke Liye’ (1981), ‘Tujhe dekha toh yeh jana’ from ‘Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge’ (1995), ‘Humko humise chura lo’ from ‘Mohabbatein’ (2000) and ‘Kabhi khushi kabhie gham’ from ‘Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham’ (2001). Her last film song was ‘Datta sun le‘ for ‘Jail‘ (2009) and she released a single ‘Saugandh mujhe is mitti ki‘ as a tribute to the Indian Army in 2019.
She also composed music for Marathi and Hindi films such as ‘Sadhi Manase‘ (1965), ‘Ram Ram Pauhana‘ (1950) and ‘Tituka Melvava‘ (1964). In the 1960s she composed music for Marathi films under the pseudonym of Anand Ghan. She also produced four films, ‘Vaadal’ (1953) in Marathi and ‘Jhanjhar’ (1953), ‘Kanchanganga’ (1954) and ‘Lekin’ (1991) in Hindi
She was a member of India’s upper house Rajya Sabha from 1999 to 2005.
Lata Mangeshkar, singer, 1929-2022, leaves behind siblings, Meena, Asha Bhosle (another very popular singer), Usha and brother Hridaynath.