Sunday October 01, 2023

In memory of Lata

February 11, 2022

Lata Mangeshkar, the most prominent playback singer in Bollywood, has lost her battle with the deadly coronavirus and passed away in the Indian city of Mumbai. Last year, I could not hold back my tears over the sudden death of my beloved brother Dr Prem Kumar Vankwani and now, I am in a state of shock over the death of Lata Ji.

Born on September 28, 1929, Lata Mangeshkar was one of India’s greatest and most influential singers. Her contributions to the music industry in a seven-decade-long career are quite remarkable. She received several honorific titles, including the ‘nightingale of India’, ‘voice of the millennium’ and ‘queen of melody’. For many decades she fascinated her fans through radio, TV, cinema halls, and theaters. Even the success of Bollywood movies was guaranteed by her background songs.

Lata was among those great personalities who dedicate their lives to spread the message of love, peace and harmony. Every person who understands the Urdu or Hindi language is a great fan of her songs. In my view, there is no one around us who has not heard her songs. With the death of Lata Ji, an era of music has come to an end.

Lata was a simple, down-to-earth and elegant person, who always respected fellow human beings from the core of her heart. Her fans belong to all religions and regions across the globe. Interestingly, Lata Ji had a special attachment to Pakistan. She had great respect for Pakistani singers including Abida Parveen and Madam Noor Jahan. Her friendship with Madam Noor Jahan was cordial. Her song for the Bollywood movie ‘Veer Zara’ in the context of India-Pakistan ties also proved to be a super hit.

Today, Lata Ji's death is also being mourned in Pakistan on a large scale. Prime Minister Imran Khan and several other government, social and entertainment personalities took to Twitter to acknowledge her work. Pakistani social media users shared their favourite Lata songs and paid tribute to Lata Didi, who has sung more than 30,000 songs in different languages in her career of more than half a century. The breaking news of her death also became the top trending topic in Pakistan on Twitter.

However, it is a pity that Lata Didi passed away with some sorrows in her heart. Her biggest desire was to visit Pakistan, to meet her Pakistani fans and to perform in Lahore. In media interviews, she expressed the wish that if she was officially invited to Pakistan, she would accept the invitation immediately.

Although some former Pakistani expressed that she would be invited, she, unfortunately, didn’t get an opportunity to visit Pakistan during her 92 years of life. In this regard, I also admit my shortcomings that despite being a fan, I could not pay attention to her wish; otherwise I would have invited her through the platform of the Pakistan Hindu Council. I will regret this for the rest of my life.

Lata Ji’s sister Asha Bhosle has her own unique identity in the world of music. I will now try to bring peace to Lataji's soul by inviting Asha ji to visit Pakistan. I strongly believe that promotion of faith tourism between Pakistan and India would bring peace-loving people of both countries closer, and they would be allowed to visit each other’s country freely.

Today, while mourning the death of the legendary Lata, I would like to propose the governments of Pakistan and India to jointly mark a special day that is free from border tensions and hostility. On this ‘Lata Day’, the media of both countries should broadcast special programmes to acknowledge Lata and other legendary artists from the Subcontinent who have dedicated their lives to their art.

The writer is a member of the National Assembly and patron-in-chief of the Pakistan Hindu Council.

He tweets @RVankwani