Special Editorial : Heavenly Nightingale Bids Farewell !

Special Editorial

Lata didi familiarised the world with hymns of Marathi Saints, created and filled with immense spiritual emotion !

Decades rolled over, yet the greatness of Lata didi’s melody remains untouched !

Amongst the many bestowed mystically by God himself, there was one especially blessed with a blissful voice, Bharat Ratna awardee Latabai Dinanath Mangeshkar. Enchanting the listeners of all ages and groups for the past 8 decades, the divine soul finally breathed last, soon after Mahasaraswati Jayanti, the Goddess and creator of Sangeet (music). In the 14th century, there was a Kulkarni family from Maharashtra, where all 5 siblings had evolved spiritually, becoming Saints of the highest order. Amongst them was Saint Dnyaneshwar, the one who loved and cared for His siblings the most and is also the one most revered. Similarly, in the 20th century, the Mangeshkar family in Goa had a house filled with 5 siblings, the one admired the most was Lata didi, she took care of all others and also developed her gifted blessing, the “art of singing” to the finest. Once sung and materialised by Didi, there was hardly any scope of fine-tuning in that melody, such was her flawlessness. God blessed the Marathi soil with such a unique and euphonious voice, which would leave an everlasting impression on the hearts of listeners. Her angelic voice universally touched souls. The sparkle of devotion and pride towards Nation and Dharma she carried along, triggered subtle pleasantness and experiences, such a heavenly voice has now become truly “heavenly” !

An end to an era of “divine” singing !

8 generations of this Nation grew up listening to the mellow tone of her mystical voice, this is not an exaggeration because even the youth of today, who finds the deepest interest in Remix music (fusion of Indian and Western music) is no exception. Between 1960 and 1990, Aakashvani (Radio) and its musical programmes reached out to every household. Lata didi’s sweet yet powerful voice left a deep impression in the minds of listeners’ nationwide. Later came upon the eras of television, tape recorder, CD players, etc. Singers changed. Listeners are too altered. The influence of western music widened. Decades passed by, but the unwavering greatness of Lata Mangeshkar and her voice remains unconquered. This dignifies her sovereignty.

Voice that conveys tenderness of the ‘Virani’ (Saint Dnyaneshwar’s devotional songs) to the heart !

Saint Dnyaneshwar’s ‘Virani’ is His anxious desire and longing towards God in the form of hymns. When Lata didi sang His hymns, she spiritually justified this pure emotion and the same was very much felt by the Marathi audience. Be it ‘Ghanu vaje ghanghana’ or ‘Rang yeivo’, the emotion of separation and longing from Parmeshwar (God) expressed in Lata didi’s voice is always felt deeply and it urges the listener to seek the subtle form of Parmeshwar. The songs ‘Aaji soniyacha din’ or ‘Arey dnyna zhalasi pavan’ composed by Pandit Hridaynath Mangeshkar, impersonating Saint Dnyaneshwar’s spiritual evolvement, could only be vividly expressed by the deep, intense and soulful voice of Lata didi. All stages of spiritual progress expressed right from a yearning separation from Parmeshwar to unifying with Parmeshwar, were distinctly expressed in ‘Mogara fulala’, however, the epitome of blissfulness was reached when she sang Saint Dnyaneshwar’s ‘Pasaydan’.

She became a medium of reflecting the spiritual world of Marathi sainthood through her melodious voice, it felt as though her voice immortalised the Saints. One can imagine the sky, mountains and the sea in front of eyes when feeling Lata didi’s voice calmly with eyes shut. Through the song ‘Nhe majasi nhe…’ (a song that epitomizes the patriotic feeling of requesting the sea to take the patriot from England to motherland India), a strong and intense desire of the great revolutionary Swatantryveer Savarkar is so well showcased; upon it, it metaphors to a strong tide clashing the seashore. Beyond this, Lata didi’s voice has the potential to experience subtle emotion. Listening to ‘Visavache aart mazhya mani prakashale’, the listener tends to introspect and get absorbed within. It goes without saying that it is hard to imagine anybody else singing ‘Vedhat marathe veer daudale saath’ or ‘Ae mere watan ke logo’ with the intensity with which Lata didi has sung and that is because of the respect and appreciation she had for Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and the soldiers. It was just unprecedented !

Words filled with devotion and spiritual emotion enriched the soul !

Devotional songs sung by Lata didi filled with immense spiritual emotion mesmerised four generations of Marathi audience and will continue to do so. Ganpati festival in Maharashtra would seem incomplete if the song ‘Gajanana tu ganaraya’ sung by Lata didi is not played around. She sang songs in 22 different languages, in a way she was truly the “voice of earth (‘Vasundharecha Swar’)” as one can befittingly honour her. In NASA’s quest to discover extraterrestrial bodies, amongst the various sounds packaged in the device, there is a voice of Lata didi recorded in it. The more experienced an actor, writer or an artist is the more sensitive and uplifting he/she is, similarly Lata didi’s voice, nurtured with both spiritual and physical emotion is not only enriching but there is an essence of sacrifice, purity, patriotism and other attributes symbolising the rich Indian culture in it. Her dedication to this art is equally appreciable. These days, stanzas of songs are mixed and in minutes a song is composed. In the early days of Lata didi, she had to rehearse the complete song with musical instruments and then record. Until the song was finalised by the composer, she had to re-record tirelessly. She had mastered the entire genera of songs that included light-hearted ones like ‘Jeevanat hi ghadi’, ‘Lek ladki hya gharachi’ or sensitive ones like ‘Shravanat ghan nila, ‘Mendichya paanawar’ or more of lovingly cherishing ones like ‘Navavadhu piya mi bawarte’, ‘Chimba pawasana raan zhala aabadani’ or could be more bold and seductive ones like ‘Mi raat takali’ or ‘Sakhya re ghayal mi harani’, she had them all. Teaming up with notable singers like Shanta Shelke, N. D. Manohar, Suresh Bhat and working with renowned composers like Pandit Hridaynath Mangeshkar, Sudhir Phadke, Srinivas Khale, she justified their heritage and preserved the glorious Marathi culture, indeed this was all possible because of her purity, simplicity and rich character. From nursery rhymes to tantalising songs, she sang and enlightened a diverse genera.

The soul of Hindi film industry !

She considered all music composers as her Gurus, irrespective of whether they were Marathi or Hindi. She always looked up to composers like Sachin Dev Burman, Naushad, Lakshmikant Pyarelal. In those days, as a singer, Lata didi had surpassed the heights of Noorjahan, Shamshad Begum, Surayya, Amirbai. The race that began from ‘Aayega aanewala’ lasted till ‘Bindiya chamkegi’. As a playback singer, she gave her voice to retro actresses like Madhubala, Wahida Rehman, Vaijayantimala, Asha Parekh and the actress of yesteryears like Sridevi, Rekha or the most recent ones like Madhuri Dixit, Kajol, etc. Her voice suited everyone very effortlessly. Songs like ‘Raina Beeti Jayee’, ‘Is mod se jate hai’, ‘Dekh ek khwab’ have always cherished and astounded the audience. ‘Ata visavyache kshan’, meaning ‘Now is the time to rest’ was her last song. A musical institution in itself has merged into infinity, the golden era of music has come to an end. Therefore, now Music itself would say, ‘Tere bina Zindagi se koi shikava nahi, koi shikava to nah, tere bina zindagi bhi lekin, zindagi nahi !’ (an awesome Hindi song sung by Lata didi). Entire mankind will always be grateful to her for the divine musical experience she offered !

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