Lata Mangeshkar, India’s most iconic singer, dies at 92
Lata Mangeshkar, one of India’s most venerated singers who sang tens of thousands of songs in her lifetime, has died at the age of 92.
She had been admitted to a hospital in Mumbai city in January after testing positive for COVID-19.
Federal minister Nitin Gadkari confirmed the news on Sunday.
Mangeshkar had an extraordinary career spanning over half a century, singing more than 30,000 songs across 36 languages.
But it was her work in Bollywood, India’s Hindi film industry, that made her a national icon.
Mangeshkar was born in Indore city, in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, on September 28, 1929.
She began learning music at the age of five from her father, Deenanath Mangeshkar, who was active in theatre.
After her father’s death, the family moved to Mumbai (then Bombay), where a teenaged Mangeshkar began singing for Marathi movies.
She also acted in small roles in a few films to support her family, but would say later that her heart wasn’t in it. “I was happiest singing.” she told interviewers.
She got a big break in 1949 – it was a haunting song called Aayega Aanewala for the movie Mahal.
“Soon every female actor wanted her voice. But she was always busy and only a few fortunate music directors got the chance to make her sing,” music director Mohammed Zahur Khayyam later recalled.
Over the next few decades, Mangeshkar sang thousands of songs lip-synced by Bollywood’s biggest heroines across generations.
She was nominated to the upper house of India’s parliament in 1999, but said later that she had been “reluctant” to take it up and that her tenure there was “anything but happy“.
She received India’s highest honour for civilians, the Bharat Ratna, in 2001.
In 2004, when she turned 75, one of Bollywood’s biggest directors, Yash Chopra, wrote for the BBC that he saw “God’s blessings in her voice”.
Mangeshkar, who never married, had a rich life outside her work, with interests ranging from cricket to cars.
Her younger sister Asha Bhosle is also a celebrated Bollywood singer. The two always dismissed any hint of sibling rivalry, and even performed together occasionally.
“We’re very close – we have never competed with each other,” Bhosle told the BBC in 2015. (BBC)