Legendary singer Lata Mangeshkar, one of India’s biggest cultural icons, has died at the age of 92.
The star died of multiple organ failure at Breach Candy Hospital in Mumbai after being admitted on January 11 with COVID-19, authorities said.
Born in 1929 in pre-independence India, Mangeshkar’s career spanned eight decades, from the Frank Sinatra era to Adele, and he began singing on stage at just nine years old.
At 13, she acted in a Marathi movie and also had a few small roles in Hindi movies, but singing was her passion.
She went on to perform approximately 15,000 songs in more than a dozen languages and was considered the voice of Bollywood, working with almost every director, actor and actress in the industry.
Fondly revered as the “Queen of Melody” and the “Nightingale of India,” she wowed listeners with her melodious voice and variety, singing everything from patriotic songs to romantic numbers, both in movies and on albums.
Read more: Bollywood actors, cricketers and politicians pay tribute to the ‘Queen of Melody’
His career-defining moment came in the historical epic Mughal-e-Azam, a romantic tragedy that premiered in 1960.
The iconic song from the movie Pyar Kiya To Darna Kya? (Why fear if you’re in love?) is considered one of the defining songs of Bollywood movies.
His song Aye Mere Waten ke Log, which commemorates the Indian soldiers who died in the 1962 war with China, is second only to India’s national anthem and moved then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru to tears when he sang it at his presence.
Many of the songs he performed in more than 500 movies are considered classics, such as Aaega Aanewale, Lag jaa gale, Mohe panghat Pe, Chalte chalte, Mere Aawaz hi Meri Pechchan hai, Ajeeb Daastan hai, Neela aasma so gaya, Pani pani re and Jiya Jale.
Popularity spread far beyond India
His voice was seen as a benchmark of excellence against which every playback singer, whose voice is pre-recorded for use in film, was compared.
Even in her old age she sang songs for actresses a third her age.
Mangeshkar fought to give playback singers their rightful place in film and did not retract royalty rights, even though it meant not working with some of the best music directors for long periods.
She refused to perform at movie award ceremonies until a separate category for playback singers was created.
He also expressed concern about diminishing originality when old songs were remixed with new music.
Praised and honored at home, Mangeshkar’s popularity spread far beyond India.
It was celebrated not only in the neighboring countries of Pakistan and Bangladesh, but also in Western countries, Africa and the Middle East.
I am distressed beyond words. Kind and loving Lata Didi has left us. She leaves a void in our nation that cannot be filled. Future generations will remember her as a stalwart of Indian culture, whose melodious voice had an unrivaled ability to mesmerize people. pic.twitter.com/MTQ6TK1mSO
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) February 6, 2022
The French government awarded him its highest civilian award, Officier de la Legion d’Honneur, in 2007.
‘A void that cannot be filled’
“I am more distressed than words,” India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted as he reacted to the news.
“The kind and caring Lata Didi has left us. She leaves a void in our nation that cannot be filled.
“She will be remembered by future generations as a stalwart of Indian culture, whose melodious voice had an unparalleled ability to captivate people.”
The country’s president, Ram Nath Kovind, described his death as “heartbreaking”.
Two days of national mourning will be observed with the national flag flying at half-staff, according to government sources.
Mangeshkar, the oldest of five children, never married.
He is survived by his four brothers, who are all accomplished singers and musicians.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.