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‘Nightingale’ Lata Mangeshkar passes away at 92

Thousands gather at Mumbai's Shivaji Park to bid adieu to the legendary singer.

February 06, 2022 10:03 am | Updated 08:32 pm IST - Mumbai

Lata Mangeshkar. File Photo.

Lata Mangeshkar. File Photo.

Legendary singer Lata Mangeshkar , known by the affectionate moniker ‘Nightingale of India’ , passed away early Sunday aged 92.

The Bharat Ratna awardee passed away at 8:12 a.m. after suffering a multiple-organ failure on Saturday night at Mumbai’s Breach Candy Hospital , said medical sources. Hospital CEO Dr. N. Santhanam attributed the iconic singer’s death to post-Covid-19 complications. 

She was admitted to Mumbai’s Breach Candy hospital in early January this year, after she tested positive for Covid-19 and was also diagnosed with pneumonia.

While she was admitted to the ICU with mild symptoms , on January 28, the singer was taken off the ventilator, after she showed slight signs of improvement. However, her condition deteriorated again on Saturday and she was back on ventilator support.

Lata Mangeshkar Live Updates | Centre announces two-day national mourning

Known as the ‘Queen of Melody’, Ms. Mangeshkar, a veritable music institution, sang thousands of songs in several Indian languages in a record-breaking career of 73 years beginning at age 13 in the 1942 Marathi film Kiti Hasaal .

As a mark of respect, the Central government announced a two-day national mourning, while the Maharashtra government has declared public holiday in the state on Monday to pay homage to the iconic singer. The Goa government has announced a three-day mourning from February 6 to 8. The Mangeshkar family has deep roots in Goa as the singer’s grandparents hailed from the coastal State.

Tributes gushed in from the cinematic world and the country’s political spectrum as the news of the singer’s death broke.

Daughter of renowned Marathi musician and theatre artiste Pandit Deenanath Mangeshkar and Shevanti Mangeshkar , Ms. Mangeshkar hailed from a musical family and was tutored by her father, later appeared as a child artiste in many of his plays.

Ms. Mangeshkar was the oldest of the Mangeshkar siblings, which included (in order of age) the singers Meena Khadikar, Asha Bhosle, Usha Mangeshkar and musician and singer Hridaynath Mangeshkar. 

Expressing grief over Ms. Mangeshkar’s demise, Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted, “I am anguished beyond words. 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.”

Prime Minister Modi, cancelling his election engagements in poll-bound Goa and Uttar Pradesh, reached Shivaji Park in Mumbai’s Dadar to attend Ms. Mangeshkar’s state funeral at Shivaji Park in Mumbai and offered floral tributes to the music legend.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, in his condolence message, said that the “era of Swara had ended and a great festival had come to an end” with Lata didi’s demise.

Reminiscing the warm relations between the Thackeray and Mangeshkar families, Mr. Thackeray said that Ms. Mangeshkar was “immortal” and would live on through her melody.

The mortal remains of the singer were later brought to ‘Prabhukunj’, her Peddar Road residence in Mumbai where thousands gathered to pay their last respects. Practically every big name in the film industry - from actor Amitabh Bachchan to director Sanjay Leela Bhansali – arrived to pay homage to the legend.

Later, a garlanded Army truck bearing the singer’s mortal remains and filled with relatives – including siblings Asha Bhosle and Hridayanath Mangeshkar - and personalities from the film industry, began a slow crawl to make the nine-odd kilometres from Peddar Road to Shivaji Park through streets choked with mourners and onlookers.

At Shivaji park, two platforms were erected with the singer’s mortal remains kept on one for public viewing along with her photographs displayed on the stage. Another platform was being erected near it with cement blocks for the last rites.

After Prime Minister Modi left the venue after condoling with the singer’s relatives, other leaders in the State including Mr. Thackeray, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar and ruling and opposition leaders all paid tributes.

Amid snatches of Ms. Mangeshkar’s iconic songs played in the background, actors, musicians and other celebrities across several generations paid their final tributes to the legendary singer. They included actor Shah Rukh Khan, lyricist Javed Akhtar, cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar, actor Ranbir Kapoor among others.

Adding particular poignancy to the occasion was Ms. Mangeshkar’s unforgettable song ‘Meri Awaaz hi Pehchan hai’ (penned by Gulzar from the film Kinara ), which was played as her last rites were prepared.

Later, the youngest of the Mangeshkar siblings, Hridaynath Mangeshkar lit the funeral pyre after full state honours.

Ms. Mangeshkar, along with her sister Asha Bhosle, reigned supreme in Bollywood film music from the late 1940s well into the 21st century, having recorded with every great music composer of name – be it Salil Chowdhury, Naushad, S.D. Burman, Laxmikant-Pyarelal, R.D. Burman and Kalyanji-Anandji, though she shared a special musical relationship with composer Madan Mohan. 

But it was her heartfelt rendition of the patriotic ‘Aye Mere Watan Ke Logo’ - commemorating the sacrifices of the Indian soldiers in the 1962 war with China - that was said to have moved Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru to tears. The song was performed on Republic Day in 1963 at the National Stadium in New Delhi.

She sang Naushad formidable raga-based compositions in ‘Golden Age’ classics like Baiju Bawra , Mother India and Mughal-E-Azam ; Shankar-Jaikishan’s hits in films like Barsaat and Shree 420 . She won her first Filmfare Award for Best Female Playback Singer in the Sali Chowdhury-scored Madhumati

She was bestowed with the Padma Bhushan, third-highest civilian award in 1969, the Padma Vibhushan, second-highest civilian award in 1999 and the highest civilian award, Bharat Ratna in 2001.

Much-feted throughout her lengthy innings, Ms. Mangeshkar was conferred with France’s highest civilian award ‘Officier de la Legion d’Honneur’ (Officer of the Legion of Honour) in 2009.

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