Lata Mangeshkar: India bids farewell to beloved singer

Photo Courtesy: Getty Images

(BBC): Lata Mangeshkar, one of India’s most beloved singers, has been cremated in Mumbai with full state honours.

Mangeshkar, whose voice was the soundtrack to hundreds of Bollywood films, died aged 92 on Sunday.

PM Narendra Modi and stars of the entertainment industry attended the funeral, where large crowds gathered to pay their respects.

Her extraordinary career spanned more than half a century and she recorded thousands of songs in 36 languages.

Two days of national mourning will follow the funeral and the national flag will be flown at half-mast throughout the country.

Crowds gathered outside her home, where her coffin began its journey to a city park where it was publicly cremated. Mr Modi was among those who laid flowers on the pyre.

One mourner, Rajesh Kumar Ram, told the AFP news agency “her voice touches the soul of every Indian. Her songs have been with us all through our lives.”

Mangeshkar was admitted to a hospital in Mumbai in January after testing positive for Covid-19.

As the news of her death became public, tributes began pouring in to the woman who was often called the “nightingale of Bollywood” for her role as a playback singer, recording the songs that actors would lip-sync on screen.

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 innermost emotions”.

Mr Modi, meanwhile, said Mangeshkar’s death had left a “void in our nation that cannot be filled”.

Mangeshkar was a huge fan of cricket, and India’s former captain Virat Kohli said her songs had “touched millions of people around the world”.

Several Bollywood stars also expressed their condolences. Actor Hema Malini said she was “lucky” to have performed to several songs sung by Mangeshkar.

“No one can sing like her, she was very special. Her passing away is very saddening,” she told the news agency ANI.

Mangeshkar was equally popular in neighbouring Pakistan, where TV channels broadcast rolling coverage of her death.

“The subcontinent has lost one of the truly great singers the world has known,” Prime Minister Imran Khan said.

Born in Indore 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 the world of theatre.

After her father’s death, the family moved to Mumbai where a teenage Mangeshkar began singing for Marathi movies.

She also took 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 with the release of a haunting song titled 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 that were lip-synced by Bollywood’s biggest heroines across generations.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *