For those who came to Britain from far off lands, Lata Mangeshkar’s mellifluous voice was both inspirational and uplifting…
HER TALENT was beyond question, her voice was like the sun – bathing us all in warmth, tenderness and sweet sensations.
Lata Mangeshkar could simply move people, dissolve discord, and wrap listeners in feelings that encompassed beauty, mystery and romance – and went to the very heart of what it is to be human and feel.
She was also for a generation – the very essence and sound of the home they had left behind and for many younger people with Indian heritage (in the widest sense), she was our introduction to Indian culture – in all its myriad forms.
Gurinder Chadha spoke for many when she said on Twitter: “Lata Mangeshkar thank you for being the soundtrack to my parents’ generation and ours. Om Shanti. Unrivalled in her voice and record of singing in so many languages over a 7 decade career.”
Meera Syal, one of this country’s best-known actor-writers reacted similarly.
“The soundtrack to many of our childhoods and one of the first Hindi female playback singers to become a star in her own right. A true trailblazer and superlative artist,” she said on Twitter.
She may have been the first Indian signer to perform at the Royal Albert Hall (see box below) but her influence went very far and beyond.
Anoushka Shankar commented: “I feel slayed by the news. I had such good fortune to interact with her through my father (Pandit Ravi Shankar 1920-2012). Thinking of her with so much love and gratitude for what she gave the world. Sending love to her family.”
Fellow musician and composer Nitin Sawhney echoed those sentiments.
“Undoubtedly the most musically inlfulential and inspiring voice for every person of my generation and heritage,” he wrote.
One Twitter follower replied to him: “I haven’t felt this sense of loss for someone who isn’t a friend or family member.”
Well-known broadcaster and DJ Bobby Friction said: “A monumental fixture in our musical cultures’ history. A veritable Queen…In a culture that celebrates Kings. Lata was, and will always be the voice of India.”
Popular Hindi film singer Navin Kundra said her voice was like that of a Goddess and few would disagree and tweeted with a broken heart emoji.
“I really can’t believe India’s Nightingale has passed away. She had the most beautiful, divine voice I’ve ever heard, full of emotion, devotion and such precision in her singing. She is a musical institution, a Legend with the voice of a Goddess, ” tweeted Kundra.
DJ Ritu, another hugely influential DJ, said simply: “She’s been there throughout our lives. The voice of a true legend never dies.”
Samir Bhamra, the artistic director of the UK Asian Film Festival, said: “Our grandparents first heard her, our parents kept listening, we grew up with her voice and our children were surrounded by her melodious echoes. The heavens have a nightingale today.”
He told www.asianculturevulture.com that he had been informed that Lata Didi, as she was popularly known, could sing songs in many languages.
“The most memorable has to be when she sang the Swahili classic, ‘Malaika’ for all her East African fans – and she did it full justice.”
Jay Visvadeva, chief executive of Sama Arts Network, one of the pioneers and producers of Indian classical music concerts in the UK told acv: “The voice of Lata Mangeshkar-ji will live on for generations, as no one before her or after her will have such a gift.
“Her father Pandit Dinanath Mangeshkar discovered a goddess – Saraswati (the Hindu Goddess of learning and culture) was born in his house, so he trained and guided her. Through sheer hard work Lataji became a beacon, lighting each song with a beautiful melody and became its greatest voice, which traversed a range of octaves, like a series of silken notes.
“I had the privilege of meeting Lataji at the Royal Albert Hall in 1974, The London Palladium in 1979, and in 1998 at the Nehru Centre during the launch of the album, ‘Last Journey of Mohammed Rafi‘ with a book by Aathwan Sur of Naushad ji.
“She not only worked with the greatest writers, composers and musicians of her time but it was her voice that ensured the success of a film.
“She was at home with all genres, traditional, classical, devotional, folk and light and what a mastery she possessed – though she has departed, she will continue to reside in all our hearts for generations.”
Ahmed Kaysher, director of Saudha, Society of Poetry and Indian Music, told acv: “I think the connoisseurs and historians of Indian music will recognise music before Lata Mangeshkar and after her. She left an incredible mark on the music industry as a whole. I feel so honoured to have lived in Lataji’s time.”
Musician and podcaster Swami Baracus put the feelings of many very simply when he said: “Quite simply the voice of India. Farewell to the greatest to ever do it.”
American writer Gaiutra Bahadur, author of ‘Coolie Woman’ said on Twitter: “ Her voice was the longing for home in all its glorious fracture and its many points on the GPS.”
Quoting from her own novel, she dubbed Lataji, “the voice of Golden Bollywood” and wrote that her “lachrymose lyrics” complimented the “the dal and roti on Sunday mornings”.
Lata Mangeshkar in the UK
SHE was the first Indian to perform at London’s Royal Albert Hall in 1974. “This is my first concert outside India. I was quite nervous,” she said while speaking to the audience at the event. She even spoke about singing with Kishore Kumar and Hemant Kumar and performing with SD Burman and Naushad. The sold out concert, which was in aid of the Nehru Memorial Fund, started with an introduction by Dilip Kumar. The two volumes of the show’s recording sold 133,000 copies.