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Lata Mangeshkar

A voice that touched hearts and reshaped our culture 

We should thank the Almighty for bringing people like Lata Mangeshkar into our country. She has entertained and inspired millions of people for many years. Indian singer Lata Mangeshkar was known as the ‘Nightingale of India’. Lataji was born on September 28, 1929, in Indore and had worked extensively in various spheres of Indian popular and light Classical Music. She has sung Ghazals, Bhajans, and Pop. In fact, she has sung over 50,000 songs for three generations of heroines, from Madhubala to Zeenat Aman to Kajol. Even became the most recorded artist in the world with the Guinness Book of Records.

Originally, Deenanath’s family had the surname Hardikar, but changed it to Mangeshkar in honor of his native Goa town Mangeshi. Her childhood name was Hema. She was renamed after a character in one of her father’s plays, Latika. With the blessings of her father, Lata Mangeshkar tasted the first fruits of Classical Music. 

Upon moving to Mumbai in 1945, she began to study Hindustani Classical Music with Ustad Amanat Ali Khan. Following partition, he migrated to Pakistan. Thus, she began studying with Pt Tulsidas Sharma and Amanat Khan Devaswale. She got her first break in 1948 when she sang a song in the Hindi film Majboor composed by Ghulam Haider.

 We all know what happened after that. Her life had never been the same since. She had created for herself a place of honour etched in gold. Lata Mangeshkar’s versatility as a singer was demonstrated by the fact that she had sung in a number of languages ranging from love songs and blues to Classical and Raga songs to Bhakti and devotional – nothing seemed to have been left untouched or unexplored by her.

In many different languages, her voice had breathed life and texture into thousands of songs. The voice of her songs symbolizes the voice of India in the world. Through the string of her sweet voice, her voice is able to unify and bind people who have been divided for a long time. Through the decades, her voice continues to resonate as a clear, distinct and representative voice of an entire era and nation.

She was nominated to the Rajya Sabha in 2000 for her contribution to vocal art and melody. This was also an important field of her work. As part of her contributions to the welfare of the country, she worked to uplift the underprivileged.

Despite having such a great name, she appears to still be a simple person at heart. Lata Mangeshkar was famous for her white silk sarees with a traditional red border and plait. Her modesty and shy nature had also remained untouched. In addition to moving millions in India, her voice has helped spread the magic of Indian Music around the world.

In 2001, Lata Mangeshkar was honored with the Bharat Ratna, the biggest award in Indian culture. Her other awards include Padma Bhushan in 1969, Padma Vibhushan in 1999, Zee Cine Award for Lifetime Achievement in 1999, Dadasaheb Phalke Award in 1989, Maharashtra Bhushan Award in 1997, NTR National Award in 1999, Bharat Ratna in 2001, Legion of Honor in 2007 (France’s highest honor), ANR National Award in 2009, 3 National Film Awards, Filmfare awards, and Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award. 

The Greatest Indian poll of Outlook India ranked Lata Mangeshkar 10th in 2012. Apart from this, she was also awarded the Best Music Director Award by the Maharashtra State Government for the film Sadhi Manase. “Airanichya Deva Tula” was voted best song from the same film. A book on Lata Ji, titled “Lata Mangeshkar – A Musical journey” was also published by Yatindra Mishra. It tells the story of the Queen of Hindi Music from the 1940s to the present day.

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My mother Durga Phalnikar was an acclaimed Indian classical vocalist. Her career in this field exposed me to the Indian classical circle from a very young age. I remember meeting veteran Indian classical singers like the late Pandit Jasraj, Bhimsen Joshi and numerous other eminent singers who would often be there at musical events that I attended with my mother. Lataji also graced many such events and I was always thrilled to see her and experience her melodious voice. In fact, Asha Bhosleji inaugurated my solo show in 2011 at the Jehangir Art gallery in Mumbai which again gave me an opportunity to interact with the family. 

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On 8 January 2022, Lata Mangeshkar tested positive for COVID-19 with mild symptoms and was admitted to Breach Candy Hospital‘s intensive care unit in Mumbai. She remained in the ICU with signs of “marginal improvement” in her health. The doctors treating her had taken her off the ventilator on 28 January after her health “improved marginally”; however, she was back on the ventilator on 5 February, after her health deteriorated, and was undergoing “aggressive therapy”. 

Lataji died from multiple organ dysfunction syndromes on 6 February 2022, at the age of 92. She had undergone 28 days of constant treatment for pneumonia and COVID-19

The Government of India announced a two-day period of national mourning and that the national flag will fly at half-mast from 6 to 7 February throughout India out of respect for her.  President Ram Nath Kovind, Vice President Venkaiah Naidu, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, several Union Ministers and Chief Ministers,  many members of the Indian Music IndustryIndian film industry, celebrities, fans, and netizens expressed their condolences. Indian Cricket Team players wore a black armband to mourn the loss of Mangeshkar in India vs. West Indies 1st ODI. Prime Minister of PakistanImran Khan, Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister of Nepal, Sher Bahadur Deuba, Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, Mahinda Rajapaksa, former President of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, and Pakistani Minister Fawad Chaudhry expressed their grief on her passing.

The coming generations will remember her as a stalwart of Indian culture, whose melodious voice had an unparalleled ability to mesmerise people. Lataji holds a place in our hearts that will never be taken by anyone else, that’s how profoundly she has impacted our lives with her music- her golden voice is immortal and will continue to echo in all our hearts forever. History will mark her contribution to India’s music in golden words. 

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