Lata Mangeshkar, an iconic signer that stole the hearts of billions with her divine voice left to heavenly abode today. Known fondly as Lata Di, she is one of India’s most celebrated playback singers who sang over 30,000 songs in her lifetime, across languages and had lent her voice to some of the finest actress in the film industry.
For decades, Lata Mangeshkar was the country’s most desired singer, with every top actress, musicians, and film makers wanting her to sing their songs.
Her records sold in the tens of thousands, and she boasted a back catalogue of some 30,000 songs spanning numerous genres and a total of 36 languages.
When she sang Aye mere watan ke logon (Ye, the people of my land), a haunting and soulful tribute to slain Indian soldiers in the disastrous 1962 war with China, at a public meeting, reports said India’s then prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru teared up.
She sang for every female star from the 1940s to the 1990s and worked with almost all the leading Bollywood directors, from Raj Kapoor and Guru Dutt to Mani Ratnam and Karan Johar. A top lyricist once described her melodic voice and soulful singing as “pure and clear as the finest pearl of crystal”.
Lata Mangeshkar was an ardent cricket fan and loved chocolates
But she was also much more than her voice. Lata Mangeshkar was a passionate cricket fan and had a love for cars and the slot machines of Vegas. She also rubbed shoulders with some of Bollywood’s brightest stars – and at least one Beatle.
AR Rehman paid rich tributes to the legendary singer Lata Mangeshkar by saying, love , respects and Tribute.
Journalist Vir Sanghvi called Mangeshkar the “voice of a nation, who unified India by singing so well in so many languages”. He pointed out the emotional connection millions of Indians felt to her songs: “We fell in love to her songs; we celebrated with her music and when there was sadness she voiced if for us.”
Lata Mangeshkar – Narendra Modi Remembers fondly her affection and love
Narendra Modi in his message wrote – I consider it my honour that I have always received immense affection from Lata Didi. My interactions with her will remain unforgettable. I grieve with my fellow Indians on the passing away of Lata Didi. Spoke to her family and expressed condolences. Om Shanti.
Singer Chinmayi Sripaada, comedian Aditi Mittal and many others described Mangeshkar’s death as the “end of an era”.
“Even as as Lata ji passes on from this physical realm – she will always live on and her voice will always be with us,” tweeted Sripaada.
Memories of Mangeshkar took over social media in India as hundreds of people tweeted photos and videos of her, and shared their favourite songs by her.
She had been admitted to a hospital in Mumbai city in January after testing positive for Covid-19.
The doctor who treated her said she died of multi-organ failure.
Mangeshkar had an extraordinary career spanning over half a century, singing more than 30,000 songs across 36 languages.
But it was her work in Bollywood, India’s Hindi film industry, that made her a national icon.
The Indian government has announced two days of mourning from Sunday, during which the national flag would be flown at half-mast throughout the country.
She will be given a state funeral. Her cremation would take place in Mumbai on Sunday evening.
As news broke, tributes began pouring in for Mangeshkar, who was often called the “nightingale of Bollywood”.
President Ram Nath Kovind said the news was “heart-breaking for me, as it is for millions the world over” and added that in her songs “generations found expression of their inner-most emotions”.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said Mangeshkar’s death left a “void in our nation that cannot be filled”.
Born in Indore city in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh on 28 September 1929, she began learning music at the age of five from her father, Deenanath Mangeshkar, who was active in theatre.
After her father’s death, the family moved to Mumbai (then Bombay) where a teenaged Mangeshkar began singing for Marathi movies.
She also did bit roles in a few films to support her family, but would say later that her heart wasn’t in it. “I was happiest singing.” she told interviewers.
Her big break came in 1949 – a haunting song called Aayega Aanewala for the movie Mahal.
“Soon every female actor wanted her voice. But she was always busy and only a few fortunate music directors got the chance to make her sing,” music director Mohammed Zahur Khayyam later recalled.
Over the next few decades, Mangeshkar sang thousands of songs lip-synced by Bollywood’s biggest heroines across generations.
She was nominated to the upper house of India’s parliament in 1999, but said later that she had been “reluctant” to take it up and that her tenure there was “anything but happy”.
She received India’s highest honour for civilians, the Bharat Ratna, in 2001.
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”.
Mangeshkar, who never married, had a rich life outside her work, with interests ranging from cricket to cars.
Her younger sister Asha Bhosle is also a celebrated Bollywood singer. The two always dismissed any hint of sibling rivalry, and even performed together occasionally.
“We’re very close – we have never competed with each other,” Bhosle told the BBC in 2015.