India in national mourning on death of iconic singer Lata Mangeshkar, 92

Legendary singer Lata Mangeshkar Photo: Facebook profile photo @LataMangeshkar

Indian singer Lata Mangeshkar, a Bollywood icon whose career spanned more than seven decades, has died at 92 – prompting the Indian government to announce two days of national mourning and lower national flags to half staff.

Widely referred to as a “national treasure” and the “nightingale of Bollywood,” Mangeshkar has recorded songs in more than 30 languages and lent her voice to over 1,000 thousand films.

The Associated Press reported that she died at Breach Candy hospital in Mumbai, citing confirmation from her doctor, Pratit Samdani, who said Sunday the cause was a result of “multi-organ failure after more than 28 days of hospitalization.” Mangeshkar was hospitalized after contracting covid-19 in January, AP said. Local news reported that Mangeshkar also had pneumonia.

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India’s Ministry of Home Affairs announced Sunday that Mangeshkar will be given a state funeral as tributes from Indian leaders and fans of the singer poured in.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi wrote in a tweet that he was “anguished beyond words” and that Mangeshkar “leaves a void” in India “that cannot be filled.”

Modi, who said he would be visiting Mumbai to pay his respects, said that future generations would remember the star “as a stalwart of Indian culture, whose melodious voice had an unparalleled ability to mesmerise people.”

President Ram Nath Kovind said the news was “heart-breaking for me, as it is for millions the world over,” as he hailed her musical talents.

The star, who was born in 1929, appeared in just a handful of films but her vocals were lip-synched by star actors in the Bollywood industry. On her Twitter account, where Mangeshkar had amassed almost 15 million followers, she described herself as a “playback singer since 1942.” The term refers to a singer whose voice is pre-recorded for use in films.

Mangeshkar recorded approximately 40,000 songs.

In 2001, Mangeshkar won India’s “Bharat Ratna” award – the country’s highest civilian honor – for her contribution to the industry. She also received three National Awards for the songs “Beeti Na Bitai Raina” from musical romance “Parichay”; “Roothe Roothe Piya” from the Bollywood drama “Kora Kagaz”; and “Yara Seeli Seeli” from Hindi drama “Lekin.”

The AP says “her career-defining moment” came in the romantic tragedy “Mughal-e-Azam,” released in 1960. “Its soundtrack ‘Pyar Kiya To Darna Kya?’ (Why fear if you are in love?) is considered one of the most memorable in Bollywood films, one that over decades has become an undisputed epitome of love’s often rebellious nature,” the news service writes.

While she dedicated her life to music, Mangeshkar had a passion for cricket and the slot machines of Las Vegas, the BBC reported.

On Twitter, thousands offered their condolences, as the term “end of an era” trended. “The day music died,” a headline from the Hindustan Times read Sunday, while The Times of India asked readers: “which Lata Mangeshkar song moves you the most?”

Kiren Rijiju, India’s Minister of Law and Justice said that it was not just the music industry that had suffered a great loss – but also the nation. “India has lost (its) soul today,” he tweeted Sunday, calling Mangeshkar “the queen of melodies.”

“One of the greatest Indians has left us,” wrote Indian sports commentator Harsha Bhogle. “Thank you for the songs, the memories, the pride we felt because of you.”

Others put it simply: “There would be no Bollywood without Lata Mangeshkar.”

“Music has been in my life since when I was very young, and I cannot ever remember not singing,” she said in a 1995 interview. “If I hadn’t gone into singing back then, I would have studied a lot more, and probably would have gotten married,” she said.

Mangeshkar never married and is survived by four siblings, who are all singers and musicians, the AP reported.

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