Lata Mangeshkar – The Last Goodbye

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To these memories I will hold
With your blessing I will go
To turn at last to paths that lead home
And though where the road then takes me
I cannot tell
We came all this way
But now comes the day
To bid you farewell
I bid you all a very fond farewell

For all those who have seen The Hobbit (Trilogy), must be familiar with this song sung by Billy Boyd, featured at the end credits of the film. It is so heart wrenching to bid the last goodbye to a person we love. Is it the same with the person who is ready to bid the last goodbye? Does he or she feel the same pain? The heaviness in the heart, those never ending tears. We experience that stab for a long long time. A feeling which all us music lovers experienced when Lata Mangeshkar passed away. It felt like a personal loss. Her patriotism was very visible throughout her career (I’m not talking about just Ae mere watan ke logon). Her love for the army, that palpable enthusiasm when she spoke about or to the jawans. Her voice became more passionate whenever she rendered a patriotic song.
While the entire nation bid adieu to their favourite singer on 6th February, that soul was as if bidding farewell to the nation, to the motherland as well. It felt like she rendered the last goodbye softly. While watching her last rites on screen, her Marathi song was constantly playing on my mind –

Akhercha ha tula dandavat
Sodun jaate gaav
Daridaritun maaval deva
Deul sodun dhaav

As if she’s singing and bidding adieu to her motherland and its people, never to come back.

Tujhya shivari jagle hasle,
Kadikapari amrut pyale
Aata hey pari saare sarle
Urla maage naav

It is here that I played as a young girl, it is here that I grew up. But it is all in the past now. What remains or will remain is my name!

Haay soduni jaate aata
Odun neli jaisi Seeta
Kuni na urla vaali aata
Dharti de ga thaav

At last I go, relinquishing the mundane things but I leave behind my voice (but music today was orphaned).

Dedicating her life to singing, she also gave music to a few Marathi films under the pseudonym Anandghan (cloud of joy). Juggling between her singing career and that of music direction for the regional audience, she appeared a winner there too. This cloud of joy rained off some beautiful music. Amongst all her films as a music director, Maratha Tituka Melvava (1964) is most well known. A blockbuster film by well known film maker Bhalji Pendharkar, it is set against the backdrop of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj conquering his first fort Torana at the age of 15, the film was a winner all the way with story and music. Igniting the flame of freedom and love for the motherland in every man’s heart. Over the years, many legends have been added to Shivaji Maharaj’s life and it is hard to filter out these embellishments and just focus on the facts. One such legend was depicted in this film. It is a story of a young, naive but braveheart villager Bhavya (Dr. Kashinath Ghanekar) who wants to be a soldier in Shivaji Maharaj’s army and serve his motherland. His love interest, Rangu (Jeevankala) is a lavani performer. During the fight against the Mughals to conquer Fort Torana, there’s a sort of unrest in the people who are asked to vacate villages. Rangu has to leave her village with the lavani troupe. She has to leave behind her house, all her belongings and also Bhavya since he’s a soldier now. Disturbed by the fact that she may not be able to see her motherland again or even meet Bhavya, her heart breaks into the song, saluting her motherland. It is then that this song comes up in the film. Though the main song has been rendered by Lata herself, the echo effect, the repetition of words is sung by her sisters Usha Mangeshkar and Meena Khadikar.

Lata Mangeshkar gave us so much love through her music. She showed so many of us what passion is all about, what hard work is all about. What does it feel like when you say responsibility! All this is nothing but atonement or penance. She always said that she had special blessings from God. Her voice, her art, everything was because of those blessings. And she was a blessing indeed. Very sharp, very witty, she had a great sense of humour, she was a good photographer, a good cook, a good painter, she was good at mimicking. She was interested in sports, especially cricket (her love for cricket is well known). She loved pristine white sarees, which became her trademark. She loved diamonds! But amidst all these earthly things, Lata Mangeshkar looked like a yogini, she always looked unattached. A yogini who was devoted to her music, she worshipped music. Music which was around her, within her. In countless interviews she has said to find her in her music. Just like the song goes – Meri aawaz hee pehchan hai…! She went further and said – My music will finally free me from the game of birth and death. I’ve got songs, that is my God.
In another interview she says – we all are God’s children and all have his blessings but it largely depends on us on what we do with those blessings. It depends on us how we mould ourselves. Something similar was echoed by her younger sister Meena Khadikar in her book – मोठी तिची सावली. She says – we all are Master Deenanath Mangeshkar’s children, but all of us couldn’t become Lata Mangeshkar (आम्ही सर्वच मास्टर दीनानाथ मंगेशकरांची मुलं होतो, पण लता मंगेशकर मात्र एकच घडली). But to become Lata Mangeshkar she went through some rigorous years. Years where she was doubtful about her future. Years where she had no help, where she had made huge sacrifices. Years where she erred (of course she’s a human being), where she had to take the insults, years where she had stumbled. But with faith and courage, like a one woman army, she rose up like a phoenix!
Singers like her happen once in a blue moon. Her voice is the innocent attraction of first love. Her voice is the quiver of that first desire. Her voice is the purest form of mother’s love. Her voice is the searing sense of patriotism. There seldom might be a feeling which her voice doesn’t arouse. Lata Mangeshkar is not just a voice, she’s an emotion.

Avid music lover and Dev Anand fan

1 Comment

  1. Subbu V

    February 9, 2023 at 12:44 am

    Absolutely brilliant tribute. Thanks for sharing

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