Updated: February 8, 2022 9:11:08 am
AS A group of Lata Mangeshkar fans eagerly wait for police to let them enter Dadar’s Shivaji Park, they offer a befitting tribute to the legend. They start singing ‘Tera jaana, dil ke aramaanon ka loot jaana…’ from Anari (1959), their eyes fixed on their smartphone screens for the lyrics.
Strangers till some minutes ago, they met on Sunday afternoon as they queued up for the last glimpse of the singer. Preetu Rani Singh and Abhishek Bhardwaj, who are part of a music band, led the chorus while the others who sang along were just music lovers.
For Singh, catching a glimpse of her idol was not the only reason why she came rushing there with Bhardwaj as soon as they got to know of the venue. She said she wanted to express her gratitude to Mangeshkar.
Fifteen years ago, when Singh moved to Mumbai from Bokaro, she earned her living by performing popular songs of the legendary singer at a hotel and bar in Chembur.
Subscriber Only Stories
“In Mumbai, I met Abhishek, who is like a guide and big bother. He formed an orchestra group and that is how I have been making my living. We perform regularly at shows in different places. I have even got a house of my own in Mumbai now. My group and I will continue to sing her songs,” said Singh. Her keyboardist husband could not come as he is taking care of their daughter, she said.
She picks ‘Lag jaa gale’ from Woh Kaun Thi (1964) and ‘Naam gum jayega’ from Kinara (1977) as two of her favourites.
As the news that Mangeshkar’s last rites would be held at Shivaji Park spread, people from far and wide trooped in through the day, hoping to get a glimpse of the cultural icon.
Some from outside planned a trip in advance to the city when they got to know that the singer was once again put on ventilator support. One of them was Lata Vijay Londhe, 36, from Karnataka who was at the park with her mother-in-law and two aunts-in-law.
Londhe works as a domestic help while her husband is a housekeeper. After very proudly emphasising that her name too is ‘Lata’, she said, “Didi bahut bhaari thi. Woh hamare desh ke aan baan aur shaan thi (Didi was remarkable. She was our country’s pride and glory).”
Her favourite songs, she said, was the one that was playing at the cremation area — Lag Jaa Gale — and Ae Mere Watan Ke Logon, which Mangeshkar performed at the Republic Day celebrations in Delhi in 1963.
Visually challenged Audambar Tushiram Banker, 40, left Pune for Mumbai in the morning after coming to know of the death. Banker, who performs for an orchestra in Pune, said he once met his favourite singer and her younger sister Usha Mangeshkar at an event. He was at Shivaji Park with fellow admirer of Mangeshkar, Sunandha Mokashe, 70. “I wanted to express my love and respect for Lata Didi one last time,” said Banker.
Mahim resident Anita Joshi, 72, was inconsolable. Mangeshkar had been a crucial part of her life and identity. “Didi chali gayi (elder sister left us). I have been waiting at the park since 3 pm. I heard the news in the morning,” said Joshi, whose day starts at 5 am with Mangeshkar’s songs. “I was nine years old when I started singing her songs. I have won many prizes by performing them,” said Joshi as she hummed ‘Na jiya laagena’ from Anand (1971).
For sisters, Manju Tripathy (51) and Sudha Hazari (48), Mangeshkar’s chartbusters were part of their memories of growing up in Jabalpur. “Unka bada saral hriday tha (she was good-hearted). She was an avatar of Saraswati. Otherwise, how can someone be so talented. Yesterday, was Basant Panchami (Saraswati Puja), and today, she left us. We have been praying for her ever since she was put on ventilator,” said Manju.
Ahmedabad-born Daksha Soni, 56, said she has been maintaining a scrap book of the singer. “This morning, I cut photo of Lata Didi that appeared in a newspaper and was going to paste it in the book when my daughter called me. She gave me news of Didi passing away,” Soni said. After wrapping of household chores, she travelled from home in Mumbai’s Dahisar to attend the last rites.
Leaders pay tribute
President Ram Nath Kovind: “Lataji’s demise is heart-breaking for me, as it is for millions the world over. In her vast range of songs, rendering the essence and beauty of India, generations found expression of their inner-most emotions.”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi: “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 mesmerise people.”
Union Home Minister Amit Shah: “A complementer of notes and music, Lata Didi, through her melodious and spellbinding voice, imbued generations of India and the world with the sweetness of Indian music. Her contribution to the world of music cannot be expressed in words. Her demise is a personal loss for me.”
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi: “Received the sad news of Lata Mangeshkar ji’s demise. She remained the most beloved voice of India for many decades. Her golden voice is immortal and will continue to echo in the hearts of her fans. My condolences to her family, friends and fans.”
Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh: “…India has lost a great daughter. She was the Nightingale of India and through her songs made an immense contribution to the cultural integration of the country.”
📣 Join our Telegram channel (The Indian Express) for the latest news and updates
- The Indian Express website has been rated GREEN for its credibility and trustworthiness by Newsguard, a global service that rates news sources for their journalistic standards.