The music world lost a voice this week. No words will suffice writing a tribute to the legendary singer Lata Mangeshkar, the Nightingale of India, who at one time was a formidable name in music and influenced almost five generations with her incredibly mellifluous voice.
Not only the connoisseurs of singing but even established playback singers are huge fans of the internationally decorated singer, whose voice journeyed through generations of people across the Indian subcontinent. No doubt, she was a veritable personification of melody in its untainted form!
If the late singer was the queen of Bollywood for her sweet melodic voice, she was “Devi”, a term used for a goddess, for the lovers of Hindi music. And many of her fans who were not fortunate to meet her but are familiar with her mesmerising voice, are still in mourning for the death as if she has been a family member.
I was fortunate to have met and attended a concert by the late legendary singer in the central Indian city of Indore during my grooming as a journalist in December 1983. I believe this was the only concert she performed in the city where she was born.
The concert in Indore, a city which was not only her birthplace but the city where she grew up, was very close to her heart, was marred by disturbances unleashed by a local politician. I still remember the depressed face of the late Lata Mangeshkar who was invited to conduct the concert to raise funds for a stadium. It was an incident that brought pain in the sensitive and loving heart of the playback singer.
Music lovers will always cherish her memories and the divine voice that stirred millions of hearts. From the late 1940s when India was savouring its dew-fresh Independence, her illustrious career spans over six decades.
She was listed in the Guinness Book of World Record as the most recorded artist in history, with more than 30,000 songs credited to her in multiple languages. Honoured with India’s highest civilian honour, the legendary singer’s achievements and records remain unmatched.
In an interview, a few years ago, she said, “I will continue to sing till my last breath. Music is the essence of my existence. We Mangeshkars are a family devoted to music. Take music away from our lives and we are nothing.”
Lata Mangeshkar remained a household name in all Indian families all over the world. Mortally she is gone, but her rich and lovely voice will always linger in everyone’s mind through her evergreen songs. A voice India loved to lip-sync both in times of joy and sorrow, separation and reunion, or love and heartbreak!
Tears still fall when we listen to the all-famed Ae mere watan ke logon, a patriotic tribute that she sang to the fallen Indian soldiers. Her recitation of Vande Mataram and the national anthem Jana Gana Mana are still the main versions used at most public gatherings across India.
It will not be an exaggeration to say Lata Mangeshkar is a name synonymous with Indian culture. Her passing away is a loss that will be felt by every music lover as there can’t be a South Asian person who has not heard at least one song by her. A vacuum in the hearts of all music-loving people!