President Irfaan Ali on Sunday expressed condolences to the family, government and people of India on the passing of the iconic singer, Lata Mangeshkar.
“The world has lost an amazing voice in the passing of Lata Mangeshkar, the Nightingale of India,” President Ali posted on his official social media account.
Mangeshkar, one of India’s most venerated singers who sang tens of thousands of songs in her lifetime, died at the age of 92.
She had been admitted to a hospital in Mumbai city in January after testing positive for COVID-19.
“For decades, Lata Mangeshkar inspired many and brought tremendous happiness to her fans globally, including Guyanese when she toured this country in October 1980,” President Ali added.
“Her humility, passion and motivation over all these years are admirable traits we can all learn from. Her voice will surely live on in her music. We express condolences to her family and the Government and people of India especially. May her soul find eternal peace.”
An extraordinary career
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.