India’s nightingale is no more; Lata Mangeshkar who created her own space in music now creates a great void

Legendary singer Lata Mangeshkar passed away on February 6 at the age of 92. One of the greatest and most influential singers in India, who has been created her own space with her incomparable musical talent was an all-time beloved personality for India.  The veteran singer was admitted to a city hospital in early January this year after she tested positive for Covid-19 and was also diagnosed with pneumonia. Around January 28, she was taken off the ventilator, after she showed slight signs of improvement. However, on February 5, her condition deteriorated and she was back on ventilator support.

The singer was cremated with full state honors at Mumbai’s iconic Shivaji Park on February 6 bringing an end to an impressive and decorated career spanning seven decades. Condolences poured in from across the world as global leaders rushed to pay their tribute to one of the most iconic voices from India. Both the houses of parliament also paid their condolences to the legend.  Everyone paid tribute to the “empress of music” who “touched billions of hearts through her golden and unparalleled voice”.

“The kind and caring Lata Didi has left us. She leaves a void in our nation that cannot be filled. The coming generations will remember her as a stalwart of Indian culture, whose melodious voice had an unparalleled ability to mesmerize people,” PM Modi said in a tweet. 

Lata Mangeshkar’s melodious singing style has earned her so many fans inside and outside India.  Lata Mangeshkar is one of the best singers in India and has been a playback singer in over a thousand Bollywood movies. Lataji, who is affectionately and reverently known as Lataji by her fans, sang songs in more than 36 languages, including foreign languages. Latha, who sang over 30,000 songs bestowed Bharat Ratna 2001, the highest civilian honor. In 1987 the Dadasaheb Phalke Award was bestowed on her by the Government of India.

Though the legend went through a lot of love affairs, it all could not bring anything to the wedding. It’s not that she does not want to, it’s because of fate.  After a while, she announced that she did not intend to get married anymore. Lata Mangeshkar’s song, which is being aired on any radio station in the world, is constantly evoking the atmosphere. One of the longest-running playback singers in the field of film music, and still has a vocal melody. Active presence in Hindi cinema since 1947.

Lata Mangeshkar’s playback singing achieved its unique status. Much can be written about the tone and pitch of her voice over the years. But what is indisputable is the fact that only she could give expression to literally every situation or emotional register. It is not just the melody, but that precision about words and emotions in her singing, that made her an ideal carrier of the totality of our lives. Someone once said, in a profound remark, that the greatness of playback singing in Bollywood’s halcyon days, was that no actor really needed to act. 

Much has been said about how Lata Mangeshkar managed to define the pitch and tonality of what the Indian female singing voice should be like, often to the exclusion of many other registers. 

Lata Mangeshkar’s first Hindi song was sung in a Marathi film in 1947 when she made her debut as a playback singer in the Hindi film ‘Aap Ki Seva Mein’. Lata Mangeshkar’s song “Ae Mere Vatan Ke Loko …” brought tears to the eyes of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India. It was an all-time Patriotic song and Lata Mangeshkar’s emotional song. It is a well-known fact that Lata Mangeshkar first sang backing vocals for the Malayalam film ‘Nellu’ (1974) and it is the only song she sang for Malayalam. 

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Lata was the eldest child in the family. Meena, Asha, Usha, and Hridaynath in birth order, are her siblings; all are accomplished singers and musicians. She received her first music lesson from her father. At the age of five, she started to work as an actress in her father’s musical plays. On her first day of school, she left because they would not allow her to bring her sister Asha with her. Lata, who belonged to a prominent musical family, also composed music as well as produced a handful of films. She was popularly known as the ‘Nightingale of India.’