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Remembering Lata Mangeshkar

Updated: Aug 22, 2022

India lost its Kokila (nightingale) on 6 February 2022. Lata Mangeskar, (also affectionately known as India's "Didi" or sister) an Indian playback singer for more than 70 years, passed away at the age of 92.


After her father's death, the family moved to Mumbai where teenage Mangeshkar began singing for Marathi movies. She also took a few roles in a few films to support her family but would say later on that her heart wasn't in it. "I was the happiest singing," she told interviewers. Her big break came in 1949 with the release of a haunting song titled Aayega Aanewala for the movie Mahal.

In 2004, when she turned 75, one of Bollywood's biggest directors, Yash Chopra, wrote for the BBC that he saw "God's blessings in her voice". Dilip Kumar, one of the greatest actors of India, called Ms Mangeshkar’s voice “a miracle of nature’s creativity.”

No one would dare disagree with their statements. Her voice, so mellifluous, had the power to melt everyone’s heart as it struck audiences with such strong emotions.

Though most of Mangeshkar's songs incorporated feelings of unrequited love, she also composed songs which strengthened the Indian's patriotic love and power, especially during times of war with China and Pakistan. Lata didi also had a career as a live performer, usually appearing onstage in an understated white or cream-coloured sari. India’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, was said to have been moved to tears by her rendering of a patriotic Hindi song, “Aye Mere Watan Ke Logon,” after India’s war with China in 1962.

Lata Mangeshkar's fame extended well beyond India. She was celebrated not only in neighbouring Pakistan and Bangladesh but also in some Western countries. She was awarded the "Bharat Ratna," India's highest civilian honour, in 2001. In 2007, the French government bestowed the highest civilian honour on her, "Officier de la Legion d'Honneur."

On Sunday evening, the singer was laid to rest with full state honours in Mumbai's Shivaji Park. In Mumbai, Prime Minister Narendra Modi also paid his respects to India's'swar kokila.' In honour of the Bharat Ratna awardee, a two-day national mourning period has been declared. The National Flag will be flown at half-mast for two days, and there will be no official entertainment.

Even though she is no longer among us, her songs will continue to live on in our memories, and they will continue to touch our lives.

Music is my life and God,” Ms Mangeshkar said in Ms Kabir’s book. “My prayer is music — it is like a father and mother to me.”

Written by Kalash Pandey


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