When Lata Mangeshkar's 'Aye Mere Watan' left Nehru in tears
Legendary singer Lata Mangeshkar (92) breathed her last on Sunday after battling with multi-organ failure for several weeks. Mangeshkar—known with monikers such as "melody queen" and "India's nightingale"—had once brought tears into India's first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru's eyes with her soulful performance of "Ae Mere Watan Ke Logon." She had shared this memory in 2014 at an event marking the song's 51st anniversary.
Mangeshkar had revealed that she was approached by the song lyricist Kavi Pradeep just a day before the event to perform. She had initially declined to sing it as there was no time for rehearsal. However, on Kavi's insistence, she finally ended up singing the song at the Ramlila Maidan on January 27, 1963. Notably, Jawaharlal Nehru was present at the event.
Mangeshkar recalled that after her performance, Pandit Nehru wanted to meet her. "At first, I was nervous, thinking I have committed some mistake, Mangeshkar said. "But when I met Panditji (Nehru), I saw tears in his eyes," she continued. "Lata, tumne aaj mujhe rula diya (Lata, you made me tear up today)," Mangeshkar quoted Nehru as saying.
"Ae Mere Watan Ke Logon" was written in honor of the Indian soldiers who were martyred in the India-China War of 1962. Nehru was devastated over the defeat India suffered in the war.
The Indore-born singer's first song was recorded in 1942 in the Marathi film Kiti Hasaal when she was just 13 years old. Since then, she has recorded over 50,000 songs in 14 languages. During the 1960s, she recorded 30,000 songs and was mentioned in the Guinness World Records. Following the feat, she became the most recorded voice in history.
Lata Mangeshkar was a recipient of the Bharat Ratna, India's highest civilian award. She was also awarded Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan, and Dadasaheb Phalke Award, and a host of other honors.