Lata Mangashkar is Dead and But Her Voice Is Not

A woman is dead, a person. But that is a personal grief. The loss to the world is just a voice that was the single sole voice of Indian film, of which there will never be another.

Satyam Shivam Sunderam is the movie Raj Kapoor made to try to express what Lata is. She is this voice of incredible purity and beauty, so pure and beautiful it feels almost like a separate entity from the body that contains it. That is what Lata is to the world, this small person who contains an essence of beauty that is somehow greater than what contains it.

“Satyam Shivam Sunderram” title song

Lata the person made herself a servant of her voice as well. She was the child of a musician who trained her, and when he died, she started working to help support the family. Her rise to fame came slowly, she worked hard and took many jobs before finally being offered a song that allowed her voice to shine through, and her ability to control that voice. And that was it, that was her life. She sang and sang and sang her whole being out for her whole life. She never married, she never had children, she worked and sang for 92 years.

I was thinking recently about the importance of singing that we are born with. My sister sings to her son, as our mother sang to us. Our mother has a nice voice and has been part of choirs and trained singing organizations. My sister and I have TERRIBLE voices, and no training, and basically no singing ability. But it doesn’t matter to my nephew. He likes it when his mother sings to him, sings anything at all in any voice at all. A woman’s voice raised in song fills something inside of us from birth, especially our mother’s voice. Or is it that we bond to our mother because she sings to us? Which comes first?

Lata is the mother of generations of children because her voice is their mother’s voice. Lata sang all the children of India, and all their children, and all the children born today and tomorrow and forever more, back to their dreams. Her voice is the voice of childhood, of safety, of magic and beauty and peace and love and everything good in the world.

“Chanda Hai Tu”

The death of Lata today is merely the death of the shell that held that voice. The quiet woman who desperately loved her siblings and her nieces and nephews, who earned the respect of all who made art with her, who traveled the world to connect personally with those who wanted to hear her voice. Her family is sad for this loss, they will never recover from it, from losing the one person who held them all together for so many years. But the world has lost nothing. The world still has that voice, that voice of enormous purity, forever. Our mother’s voice.

“Luka Chuppi”

13 thoughts on “Lata Mangashkar is Dead and But Her Voice Is Not

  1. Pingback: Lata Mangashkar is Dead and But Her Voice Is Not » Filmybilla

  2. Pingback: Lata Mangashkar is Lifeless and However Her Voice Is Not » Filmybilla

  3. It was such a shock, but one I did see it coming. Been keeping track of whose at the funeral. Been listening to her songs as well. There are so many classic songs of hers, from past to present. Yet I find myself listening to Aplam Chaplam from Azaad (1955) nearly constantly. I don’t know, maybe because it is cheerful, so lively and so young it makes me happy to listen to it, instead of the long list of sad songs she has.

    The other song is ‘Aaj Phir Ki Tamanna Hai’ from Guide. It is just so lovely and sweet. I guess I want to remember the happy songs since so many will be talking about the Classics and Sad Songs of hers today.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. So beautiful – ‘Our mother’s voice’!

    Her voice is the soundtrack of my life and it’s probably my mother’s too. That’s how much her songs mean to us. And not just Hindi, she has a rich catalog of Bengali songs which I grew up listening (she has sung in many Indian languages). Even as we grieve, her songs tell us how. I keep breaking into tears as I listen to her songs today, even though I’ve heard them hundreds of times before. Because the songs are not just songs, they also carry the memories of when and where they’ve been played with loved ones throughout my life. Like just a month back, on a long drive with my father.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Beautifully written, Margaret. As you know, Chanda Hai Tu by Lataji is the song my mom sang to us and the one I sing to my son almost every day. My mom had a great voice, I can’t hold a tune to save my life but Baby SRK seems to smile everytime I sing to him, which is just precious.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Beautifully said, Margaret. After reading the anodyne and error-riddled obits in the WPost and NYTimes (yes, I know I should have known better than to read them), I figured it wasn’t possible for a non-desi to understand what Lata Mangeshkar meant to us. But, you do! And you’re absolutely right – her voice will never die.

    Jab ham na hoge jab hamari khaak pe tum rukoge chalte chalte
    When I am gone, when you pause by my ashes as you walk
    Ashkon se bhigi chadani mein ek sada si sunoge chalte chalte
    In the moonlight soaked with your tears, you will hear my call, as you walk
    Vahin pe kahin, vahin pe kahin ham tumse milenge
    There somewhere, we will meet again

    From: Rahe na rahen hum

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I don’t tend to feel affected by celebrity deaths, except for a pleasant sense of fondness/nostalgia, on behalf people who lived to a good old age. But all day today I’ve been distracted and upset, doing nothing but listening to her songs.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Pingback: लता मंगेशकर मर चुकी हैं और उनकी आवाज नहीं है – Dailyhant

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