India mourns the death of ‘Melody Queen’ Lata Mangeshkar

Sadness and a deluge of tributes to iconic singer Lata Mangeshkar, who died at the age of 92.

An artist paints a tribute to late Indian singer and music composer Lata Mangeshkar after she passed away, in Mumbai, India
An artist in Mumbai, India paints a tribute to Mangeshkar, who dominated Bollywood soundtracks for decades [Francis Mascarenhas/Reuters]

India will observe two days of national mourning following the death of legendary singer Lata Mangeshkar, the Home Ministry has said.

The national flag will fly at half-staff as the icon of Hindi singing receives a state funeral with full state honours at 6:30pm (13:00 GMT) on Sunday.

“Coming generations will remember her as a stalwart of Indian culture, whose melodious voice had an unparalleled ability to mesmerise people,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Sunday.

Thousands gathered outside Mangeshkar’s house in south Mumbai, where police barricaded roads and controlled traffic as top politicians and Bollywood personalities streamed in, television footage showed.

Veteran Bollywood actor Anil Kapoor, best known internationally for his role as a game show host in Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire, said he was “heartbroken, but blessed to have known & loved this incredible soul”.

“Lataji holds a place in our hearts that will never be taken by anyone else. That’s how profoundly she has impacted our lives with her music,” he said.

Since 1942, when Mangeshkar recorded her first song for Bollywood at the age of 13, composers and film producers alike vied to sign her for their movies.

“I composed, keeping Lata Mangeshkar’s range and voice quality in mind,” composer Anil Biswas said in an interview.

“She had a wide range, and one could think of more complicated melodies than with the earlier untrained singers.”

The Indian national cricket team wore black armbands in honour of Mangeshkar as they kicked off the first of three one-dayers against the West Indies on Sunday.

Politicians also expressed deep affection for the singer, whose career has spanned most of independent India’s three-quarters of a century, earning her the title of “the Nightingale of India” and the “Melody Queen”.

President Ram Nath Kovind said the news was “heartbreaking for me, as it is for millions the world over”.

“In her songs, generations found expression of their inner-most emotions,” Kovind added.

Vice President Venkaiah Naidu said he was “extremely saddened” by the news of Mangeshkar’s death.

“India has lost its voice in the death of Lata ji, who has enthralled music lovers in India & across the globe with her mellifluous & sublime voice for many decades,” he said.

Minister of Home Affairs Amit Shah said it was “not possible to put into words her contribution to the music world”, calling Mangeshkar’s death a “personal loss”.

Opposition leader Rahul Gandhi extended his condolences to the singer’s family, adding in a Tweet that “her golden voice is immortal and will continue to echo in the hearts of her fans.”

Emmanuel Lenain, France’s ambassador to India, wrote on Twitter that he was “deeply saddened” by Mangeshkar’s death and referenced the Officier de la Legion d’Honneur, France’s highest civilian award, which it conferred on her in 2007.

The US embassy in India also paid tribute to Mangeshkar.

“History will mark her contribution to India’s music in golden words,” it said on Twitter.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies