Swar Kokila or the Nightangle of India Lata Mangeshkar left for her heavenly abode on February 6, 2022 leaving behind a void in the Indian musical world. However, she will forever remain immortal as her melodious voice made each of her songs evergreen and soothed the hearts, minds and ears of its listeners. The legendary singer is a true and fitting example of women empowerment. Being a single lady throughout her life, Mangeshkar continued to sing songs throughout her seven decade long career and making millions of fans across the globe.
Mangeshkar, whose utterly sweet and calm voice makes us admire her unique singing talent and enjoy the songs in a relaxing yet attentive method, was passionate about following a particular dressing style throughout her life that was filled with glamorous stardom and bountiful riches. Although Mangeshkar became a Goddess of Indian Singing and was often compared with the Hindu Goddess of Music i.e. Saraswati and was the first source of inspiration for every expert and aspiring Indian singers, she did not let her massive stature of fame experiment with her subtle way of style. With her passion for perfect singing remaining her unshaken identity throughout her career, Mangeshkar also always firmly showed herself in the elegant and classic Indian attire sari wherever she used to perform. Moreover, light coloured saris especially white ones were her favourite. Unlike the glitzy appearance of Indian entertainment shows where multiple hues of coloured lights and animations along with the loudly dressed celebrities make us raise our eyebrows, imagine and gossip about the level of riches accumulated or spent, Mangeshkar always presented a humble and traditional appearance with a brilliantly white sari and would often stand out among the crowd due to her simple yet charming aesthetics. With the pallu of her sari often draped high around her neck and shoulders and a big red bindi adorning her forehead becaming her signature style, Mangeshkar always looks like she was presenting a big fashion statement wherever she went that was thoroughly rooted to the ancient Indian way of dressing. The singer was always spotted in white sarees with lavishly coloured or embroidered borders. It is believed that her wardrobe was filled with the finest handloom sarees of the colour often associated with peace and purity. With simple classical fashion, Mangeshkar ensured that her fashion statements did not steal away the attention of the audience away from her voice which was one of her priceless assets.
Mangeshkar did not like to dress up in dresses of bright colours. In an interview with Bollywood Hungama she revealed her reason for not experimenting with colourful styles as is quite known and followed religiously in the Bollywood industry. “The chorus girls laughed so hard I swore never to dabble in colour ever again,” she said while reminiscing about a time when she was made fun of for experimenting with colourful saris. Her love for white colour began from her early childhood days. Mohan Deora and Rachana Shah’s biography on Lata Mangeshkar ‘On Stage With Lata’ mentions about the singer’s fondness for white colour. In the ‘Introduction’ part of the book, Mangeshkar said that she had put on ‘a white frock with tiny patterns on it’ for a self- photography session in a photographer’s studio when she was only nine years old. The book also mentioned Mangeshkar saying that she liked the singers to look simple when performing on stage. “I did not want any of us singers to wear garish clothes, big earrings or excessive jewellery. I wanted simplicity. We need to look like singers not like glamorous movie stars. We are singers and I wanted the audience to listen to our singing.”
The legendary singer also had a fetish for diamonds and was often seen sporting a pair of diamond solitaire earrings along with her lovely white saris on various shows. Speaking about her love for diamonds, Mangeshkar, in an interview with The Telegraph had said, “I’ve been fond of diamonds from childhood. As a child, my father used to design jewellery. But we couldn’t afford them. He had a keen eye for jewellery and was fond of wearing precious stones. We kids were equally fascinated by jewels. But until I became a professional playback singer, I refused to wear jewellery. I had decided I’d wear only diamonds. With my first income, I bought gold jewellery for my mother. For myself, I got a diamond ring. It was a specially designed diamond and ruby ring with the initials ‘LM’ in it. I still have that ring. It’s one of my most prized possessions.” According to reports, Mangeshkar had paid Rs. 700 for buying her first uniquely customized diamond ring in 1947. Mangeshkar’s good friendship with singer KL Saigal and her ‘Rakhi brother’ Shivaji Ganeshan ( Tamil actor / musician) enchanted her wonder further behind the luminous sparkling of the diamonds , the purest and precious form of white jewellery.
Mangeshkar had even showed her talent and creativity as a jewellery designer when she designed an exclusive diamond jewellery collection for an Indian diamond export company Adora. The collection called Swaranjali contained stunning pieces of jewellery carrying her laser imprinted signature. As per reports, five pieces from this collection were auctioned at Christie’s and raked in 105,000 pounds (Rs. 7,83,903). However, the singer generously donated the entire money for the 2005 Kashmir earthquake relief.
The book ‘On Stage With Lata’ mentions the singer making her first public stage appearance in a concert at the age of nine years along with her father Deenanath Mangeshkar who was a celebrated classical singer. “I was the first to get into the stage and sang Raga Khambavati. Then my father sang late into the evening,” she said. Moreover, in a conversation with Aaj Tak, renowned artist, Tabassum had recalled her conversation with Mangeshkar on why she used to apply sindoor sometimes. The singer had told Tabassum that she used to apply sindoor for music despite being unmarried. In The book ‘On Stage With Lata,’ Manegeshkar had revealed that her father who was a very good astrologer had once told her mother that she would become a famous and excellent singer but would never marry. “His words came true and music became the centre of my life,” she said.
Although Mangeshkar never revealed anything about her personal life on media, it is rumoured that she was in a relationship with cricketer Raj Singh Dungarpur who was also the prince of Dungarpur, a city located in southern part of Rajasthan. It is believed that both of them were head over heels and such was their devotion to each other that both remained single throughout their lives. Princess Rajyashree of Bikaner, who is Dungarpur’s sister’s daughter, writes in her autobiography, ‘Palace of Clouds: A Memoir’ that the two met through Dungarpur’s friendship with Hridaynath Mangeshkar, the cricket-mad brother of Lata. The relationship was frowned upon by the Dungarpur royals and the other royal families that they had married into.
Born on September 28, 1929 to a Maharashtrian Brahmin family in Indore, Mangeshkar recorded songs in over thirty-six Indian languages and a few foreign languages and gained several prestigious awards and honorific titles. Moreover, her Bollywood songs are still golden even now and would continue to be in future too. Although she passed away at 92 leaving a nation of 130 crore people heartbroken, she will remain immortal through her melodious voice and people would still feel her soothing presence forever in this planet.