Lata Mangeshkar has been a household name from as far back as one can remember. Whether you woke up to a ghazal maybe ‘Jurm e dil yun unhen sunaya gaya’ from Jahan Ara – or when trails of the latest Hindi film song – remember the lilting tune of ‘yeh kahan aa gaye hum’ from Silsila? – wafted into your study room in the evening, you lived with her, emoted as she did. Lata ji had become a tradition, the very embodiment of Indian culture in our times. She was the embodiment of our national spirit.
Surely we will miss Lata ji in her songs. But we will also miss her as we miss our youth, our yesterdays and our traditions that made our families what they are today. We will miss Lata ji through our learning of life’s many beautiful and troubled times, as well as through our own understanding of what we, as Indians, stand for.
How can a playback singer of mostly Hindi movies become so close to our hearts? Did not a super classical exponent Girija Devi or the god gifted voice of Hemanta Mukhopadhyay bring such tears to our eyes? Yes they did.
They still do, when we play the records. We will never forget them. The only difference was that Lata was all around, in every nook and corner of our houses, in our localities, in every puja pandal, in every marriage function. She was omnipresent.
She was 92, and to that extent there cannot be any level of bereavement that will remain associated with us. But when a persona elevates itself to a special position throughout our lives, through the ever evolving Bollywood, and yet remains fresh, there is something eternal in this. There is something ethereal. Lata tai was one such person, eternal and tied to our emotions.
She ruled the film industry for seven decades. That is the number of years one aspires to just live for. And in each year, month, day and hour of those seven decades, she created new music, new categories, and gave birth to genres. Her genius was in giving to us her fans and followers.
If anything, she deserves to be preserved as a national treasure. Probably even the Bharat Ratna wasn’t enough honour for a persona as large as Lata Mangeshkar. Because, in losing her, the world has lost a great soul too.
May she be happy wherever she is now. We can only aspire to be a little like her.