Legendary singer Lata Mangeshkar has passed away after suffering multi-organ failure in Mumbai. The ‘Nightingale of India’ was 92 and hospitalised after testing positive for COVID-19.
The classically-trained star rose to fame in India’s booming film industry as a “playback singer”. She provided her voice for several Hindi movie stars in a career that spans more than half a century.
For decades, the “nightingale of Bollywood” was the country’s most in-demand singer, with every top actress wanting her to sing their songs. In her lifetime, she sang around 30,000 songs spanning numerous genres and a total of 36 languages. Some of her credentials include singing in classic movies like Pakeezah, Majboor, Awaara, Mughal-E-Azam, Shree 420, Aradhana and Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, to name a few.
Lata ji was born in the central Indian city of Indore on 28 September 1929. Her father was a singer, theatre actor and producer of musical plays in the Marathi language. She was the eldest of five children, with her siblings following in her footsteps and also becoming well-known singers in India. Asha Bhosle is one sibling who is also a legendary singer.
She was never formally educated. A maid taught her the Marathi alphabet, and a local priest taught her Sanskrit, while relatives and tutors taught her other subjects at home. To survive financial hardships, Mangeshkar pursued acting for a brief time until she got her singing debut in Mahal (1949).
Lata ji was also the first Indian to perform at the Royal Albert Hall. A memorable moment was when India’s former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru teared up when she sang ‘Ae Mere Watan Ke Logo’ at a tribute for soldiers who died during the Indo-Sino 1962 war. Furthermore, she was the first female singer who demanded better pay and royalties.
Having won countless accolades over the years, she is also the recipient of Bharat Ratna, Padma Vibhushan and Padma Bhushan. Many of these trophies are the highest civilian awards of the Republic of India. The government of France conferred on her its highest civilian award, Officier de la Legion d’Honneur, in 2007.
India’s Home Ministry said Mangeshkar will receive a state funeral and the government will observe state mourning with the flag at half-mast through Monday. May her soul rest in peace.