India’s legendary singer Lata Mangeshkar, 92, passed away on Sunday in Mumbai, leaving behind an endless trail of soulful melodies that brought billions of countrymen, in times of peace, joy, tragedies, triumphs and celebrations, together while turning a billion of her worldwide fans speechless.
Widely regarded as the greatest playback singer in the annals of Bollywood, she had been critically unwell for the past few weeks.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced to join her bereaved caretaker kin in Mumbai as country prepared to bid her adieu while the Centre declared a two-day state mourning that will accord a state-funeral to Mangeshkar, beginning Sunday and hoisting the national flag at half-mast.
The government said that the date, time and venue of funeral would be decided by the Centre in collaboration with her family members.
Mangeshkar’s treatment was going on at Mumbai’s Breach Candy Hospital. She was admitted to the hospital after being diagnosed with pneumonia and had tested positive for the coronavirus earlier in January.
A child prodigy, Lata had started her career at the age of 13 in 1942 and sang over 30,000 songs in various Indian languages over the next seven decades.
She shot to limelight with her ethereal melody, ‘Aayega Aane Wala’ in ‘Mahal’ in 1949, and went to demonstrate her versatility with a string of memorable songs. ‘Ajeeb Dastan Hai Ye’, ‘Lag Ja Gale’, ‘Sunn Sahiba Sunn’, ‘Pyar Kiya To Darna Kya’, ‘Naina Barse’ are few of the gazillion ditties which she serenaded with consummate ease.
Her mesmerizing voice had a peerless, enduring quality which kept people across the globe spellbound for years. Even when she was in her 70s, she effortlessly sang for young female actors who were at least 50 younger to her.
Along with earning the sobriquets such as “Queen of Melody” and “Nightingale of India”, she was also bestowed with a slew of prestigious awards, including Bharat Ratna, Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan and Dada Saheb Phalke.
In 1983, when Indian cricket team returned to India after winning the World Cup, the cash-strapped cricket board, BCCI, didn’t have enough funds to disburse to the cricketers as reward. An ardent cricket aficionado, Lata stepped up, put together a huge concert and raised Rs 20 lakhs for the cricketers. For her effort, she didn’t charge a single penny.
In her later years, she became quite vocal about her political opinions, and many a time praised the Hindutva icon Veer Savarkar. She has also candidly expressed her admiration for the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his brand of politics.
Her death has triggered an outpouring of emotions, with people from all walks of life paying tribute to the legendary singer. PM Modi, Sachin Tendulkar and a host of eminent people from the film industry have posted messages on their social media accounts, mourning her demise.