Honoring the Queen of Melody : Lata Mangeshkar

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Lata Mangeshkar was a true gem of India who illuminated the entire nation with her music career, leaving behind an unmatchable legacy when she breathed her last on February 6, The ‘Queen of Melody’ dedicated seven decades of her life to the Indian Music Industry; as we go down the memory lane together and pay tribute to one of the greatest singers to ever have lived.

The Inception of Singing Career
The playback singer and music composer, Lata Mangeshkar, received her first music lessons from her father, a classical singer himself, and started working in her father’s musical plays at the mere age of five. Lata Ji officially stepped into the industry by singing for a Marathi movie in 1942. She later moved to Mumbai in 1945, where she took lessons in ‘Hindustani Classical Music. Although a movie producer once dismissed her voice as “too thin”, Mangeshkar received her first major break with the song “Dil Mera Toda, Mujhe Kahin Ka Na Chhora” in 1948 released movie ‘Majboor’. Lata Ji always regarded Ghulam Haider as her godfather, the first music director to have shown absolute faith in her capabilities. 

The Signature Singing Style
Lata Ji made her mark in the Indian film music industry by bringing about her unique singing style suitable for both ‘traditional’ and ‘modern’ female protagonists. Being a ‘Soprano’ range, her voice had the highest vocal range from all vocal types. At the same time, her voice had a weight that could give a definite and distinctive shape to the melody of songs. As she progressed in her playback career, she started taking Urdu lessons and developed a better pitch and tone to enhance her capabilities as a playback singer further. 

Multilingual Career
Esteemed as one of the most influential personalities of India, Lata Mangeshkar had recorded her songs in more than thirty-six Indian languages and some foreign languages. Even though her work was primarily based in Hindi, Marathi and Bengali, she spent her singing career covering a wide variety of languages spoken in different parts of India and a few of them abroad. 

Prominent Works
From singing “Pyar Kiya To Darna Kya” in ‘Mughal-e-Azam’ to “Inhi Logon Ne” in ‘Pakeezah’, to multitudinous other songs, Lata Ji won the hearts of the public with every single one. Her patriotic melody, “Aye Mere Watan Ke Logo”, teared up all citizens as she sang it against the backdrop of the Sino-Indian War, in the presence of Jawaharlal Nehru, the then Prime Minister of India. She sang for almost all Yash Chopra films, including Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, Dil To Pagal Hai, Mohabbatein, and Veer-Zaara, among others. Her
vocals were added in the Hollywood film ‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind’ through her song “Wada Na Tod”. Mangeshkar released a feature album in 1994 titled ‘Shraddanjali – My Tribute to the Immortals’, paying homage to immortal singers of the time.

Awards and Titles
Lata Ji’s thunderous applause-worthy achievements have earned her honorific titles, including ‘Voice of the Millennium’ and ‘Queen of Melody’. She won several awards building up her legacy, such as ‘The Bharat Ratna’, Padma Bhushan, India’s highest civilian award and eventually Padma Vibhushan. Adding another significant quotient to her name, Lata Ji was the recipient of the ‘Dadasaheb Phalke Award’, ‘Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award’, three National Film Awards and was awarded the title of France’s highest order, Officer of the French Legion of Honour. These are just some of the innumerable accomplishments that Lata Mangeshkar successfully triumphed in her lifetime. 

Death, Last Rites and Homage
After being tested positive for COVID-19 in January 2022, Mangheskar was admitted to the intensive care unit of Breach Candy Hospital in Mumbai. The legend breathed her last at the age of 92 on February 6, 2022, after suffering from multiple organ dysfunction syndromes. Lata Ji was cremated with full state honours at Mumbai’s Shivaji Park while her nephew, Adinath Mangeshkar, performed the last rites. India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari placed floral tributes at the cremation and paid their last respects. Family members and several distinguished dignitaries were also in attendance, such as Asha Bhosle, Sharad Pawar, Sachin Tendulkar, Shah Rukh Khan and Shraddha Kapoor, to name a few. The Government of India announced a two-day National mourning period, along with orders for the National Flag to fly at half-mast from February 6 to 7, across the country, in honour of the late Lata Mangeshkar. The Indian Cricket Team also paid its respect by wearing black armbands during the India vs West Indies 1st ODI.

Lata Mangeshkar’s demise took the entire country by an intense wave of remorse. Even though we lost a National treasure, we have been left behind with a legacy India will cherish forever. Lata Ji’s voice will continue to enlighten the Indian music industry, setting an
exemplary role model for young music aspirants. The vocal embodiment of Goddess Saraswati will stay alive in every Indian’s heart, without end. 

Written by – Simmerdeep Kaur

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