“Allah Tero Naam Ishwar Tero Naam” by Lata Mangeshkar was not empty rhetoric. If she is mourned as much in Pakistan as in India, it is only because she sang for humanity, not for passports.
I had decided not to write an obituary for Lata Mangeshkar, the goddess of all things melodious. Obituaries are written for the dead. The Goddess cannot die.
She will live through thousands of her songs as long as civilization exists; which may not be very long, with all kinds of viruses and other toxic elements polluting and poisoning our planet.
As long as just one of her songs is heard by mankind, we will survive, don’t worry about the thousands she has returned to infinite durability, just one, only one. Choose any…’Raina Beeti Jaye, ‘Aaj Socha Toh Aansoon Bhar Aaye, ‘Ae Dilruba, ‘Kitni Dard Bhari Yeh Raat Hai, ‘Abke Na Sawan Barse, ‘Saawan Ke Jhoole Pade’… Each of these songs is worth infinitely more than all the songs sung by all the other singers in the universe.
Those who talk about her monopoly now, when she’s gone, should listen to the songs above. I can send you a list of 200 songs by her, each a standalone masterpiece consumed on par with Pablo Picasso’s Mona Lisa or the Kohinoor. I heard “Main hoon teri prem deewani, single saiyan mera raja diljani,” an obscure composition by RD Burman from a pot, titled Azad, who didn’t deserve the jewel of a song, at least 500 times since its release in 1978: I still don’t know how she sang it, the pauses she takes between the lines, the way she carries the notes from the middle undulates at the highest octave on two lines: no singer in the world, neither Tansen, nor Bhimsen Joshi, nor Pavarotti can do that. It is beyond any human explanation of excellence.
I’m embarrassed to congratulate her when she’s gone. I had sworn not to. After a life of deep, unconditional and uninterrupted reverence, I had decided not to join the chorus of panegyrics after his passing. But then I saw deeply cynical writings where she was accused of going saffron after singing for Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. I heard dissenting voices questioning his political allegiance.
Yes, she was very fond of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. She spoke to me warmly about him many times. I remember on her birthday in 2019, when I called her in the morning to wish her, she kindly asked me to call later. “Abhi Fashionjika call aane wala hai.“I couldn’t compete with that.
There was a mutual affection between the two that transcended politics.
by LatajiAllah Tero Naam Ishwar Tero Naam‘ was not empty rhetoric. If she is mourned as much in Pakistan as in India, it is only because she sang for humanity, not for passports.
The songs of the Goddess owed allegiance neither to saffron nor to green. They were a religion in their own right, a color so vibrant, deep, carpeted and rich, that they have no human definition.
Keep her away from any political chatter. She was neither right nor left. She was just. She is. She will.
Since this morning, I have seen “tributes” where the Goddess was slyly accused of “sabotaging” the careers of singers like Vani Jairam, Hemlata, Preeti Sagar and Suman Kalyanpur. With all due respect to these singers, no singer in this world was in competition with Lataji. Because she was not of this world.
We Lata bhakts believing that she was Saraswati Mata reincarnated. do you have a problem with that? Liberals find this laughable? Why do you think she left us the day of visarjan after Saraswati Puja? The day Saraswati Mata was submerged is the day Lataji left.
I haven’t even begun to digest his departure from this accursed world. I can’t believe I will never be able to talk to him. Do I care about a world that has just been robbed of the receptacle of all that is beautiful and desirable?
Subhash K Jha is a Patna-based film critic who has written about Bollywood long enough to know the industry inside out. He tweets at @SubhashK_Jha.