February 7, 2022 - 10:26 am

Lata Mangeshkar Closes her eyes at 92

The 'Queen of Melody' Lata Mangeshkar, aged 92, breathed her last in the wee hours of Sunday morning, February 6. The singer's health deteriorated and passed away due to Covid-19 complications and pneumonia. Her last rites were performed at Shivaji Park, Mumbai with full state honours. The ceremony was attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Shah Rukh Khan, Aamir Khan, Ranbir Kapoor, cricketer Sachin Tendulkar and other celebs who paid their last respects to the mortal remains of the singing icon. Two days of state mourning will be observed during which the National Flag will be flown at half-mast throughout India as a mark of respect to Lata Mangeshkar. Meanwhile, many states also announced public holidays and State Mourning to honour the legendary singer.

Mangeshkar was born on September, 28, 1929 in Madhya Pradesh. Due to her father's reputation in the classical music scene, she was introduced to several composers, like Aman Ali Khan, who mentored and trained her for several years. As her career took off, Mangeshkar delivered consecutive hits which made her one of the most sought after playback singers in the country. In Indian movies, it is standard practice for a music director to insert eight to 10 songs that play out in synchronization with the film plot. Singers like Mangeshkar were hired to record the songs in advance and to which actors would lip sync or a sequence would play out on screen. Unlike Hollywood, where artists record albums and that music is procured for a particular movie, in India, singers generate music and lyrics for the movie exclusively.

Her break came in 1949 with the movie, "Mahal," for which she sang the tumultuously famous song, "Aayega Aanewala." She won her first filmfare award for the song, "Aaja Re Pardesi" in the movie, "Madhumati" in 1958 and her first national film award in 1973 for the song, "Beeti Na Bitai" in the movie "Parichay." She gave her voice to the music and lyrics penned by great composers and lyricists of the time like Madan Mohan, R.D. Burman, Gulzar and A.R. Rahman. Music directors stalled their projects to accommodate her tight schedule and composers wrote their music with her voice in mind. She also sang, "Aye Mere Watan Ke Logon," a song meant to inspire the people of the country after the Indo-China war in 1963. It became an anthem with Mangeshkar beseeched with requests for it at every concert.

In 2001, she was awarded the Bharat Ratna, the highest civilian honor in India. She was also awarded the Padma Vibushan in 1999, the second-highest civilian award in India. Mangeshkar has performed in over five languages for different movie industries within India. In an interview with a news channel in 2009, Mangeshkar expressed one regret. "I was very keen to become a classical singer. But when I began work, I had so many responsibilities that I could not pay attention to classical music. I did not have time to practice," she said. Mangeshkar lent her voice to more than 1,300 movies and sang over 25,000 songs. Her music has been used in Hollywood films like "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind," "Life of Pi," "Lion" and "The Hundred-Foot Journey." Over the past two decades, Mangeshkar had slowly reduced her workload to just a couple of movies a year. Preferring to stay out of the limelight, she rarely spoke about her personal life.

It is next to impossible to conclude in words for her immeasurable contribution. If she taught the musicians how to approach music with clarity and focus, for listeners, she was an institution in herself. In her death, India has lost one of her most revered musicians, but she has left behind an immaculate oeuvre that will continue to give listeners joy, comfort and courage for times to come.