6th February 2022 was a sad day for Indians, as well as the music world, as "Gaankokila" Honorable Lata Mangeshkar passed away. The sudden demise of "Nightingale of India" left an unfulfilled void in the minds of Indians. From Bollywood to politicians, everyone mourned the death of their beloved singer. Cricketers across the globe shed tears in remembrance of the soulful queen. When one will think of music, the first name coming to everyone's mind will be Lata Mangeshkar. The greatest in the music industry fundraising so shared a special connection with Indian cricket.
Right since her younger days, she showed her love for the sport. One could see her smiling in the stands after Salim Durrani hit the six in the stands off Derek Underwood against England in 1973 when the spectators had demanded him to do so by saying "we want sixer". Often one could see Lata Mangeshkar in the stands cheering for India. Her love for the game was such, that when she decided to own a house in London, she did own one right in front of The Mecca of Cricket, Lord's.
Her contribution to the sport is beyond just a spectator. Back then, when the BCCI was not a money-making rich board, India under Kapil Dev ended the West Indian domination to win their first World cup in 1983. Players were getting applause from all over the world, but the board had no money to felicitate the players who brought them glory. It was at this point fundraising when BCCI requested the legendary singer to help them with a fund raising event, which Lataji gladly accepted. Her magical voice helped the board earn a whopping 20 lakh rupees 4 decades earlier than today. The world cup winning players were awarded this money. The selflessness of Lata Ji was seen by everyone when she denied any fees for this noble event. In her honour, the BCCI always kept 2 seats reserved for Lata Ji for every match India played thereafter.
Every player was fond of her magical voice. She had immense respect for every single player who played for India. But she shared a very special bond with the two Indian greats, Sunil Gavaskar and Sachin Tendulkar. Recalling an incident, Sunil Gavaskar had said," When I was in Lahore, I attended an event of Pakistan film industry and met a famous singer Noor Jahan, who denied identifying me saying she only knows Imran Khan. When asked if I knew Noorjahan, I replied, I know only the greatest Lata Mangeshkar Ji ". This showed the immense respect Gavaskar had for the legend of music. One could also see Lata Ji shedding tears as Gavaskar recalled this incident on stage.
Along with Little Master, the God of cricket also shared a very special connection with Lata Ji. Sachin would always call her "my mother", and Lata Ji proudly said, " Sachin is like my son, a son who made his entire country proud". Sachin fondly said that the medium of music changed over the years, from pull tapes to tape recorders, to two-in-one to i-pods. But amidst all this, only one thing which remained constant was the melodies voice of Lata Ji which he listened to.
Coincidentally, when Sachin reached his 35th century, breaking the record of Gavaskar who had 34 centuries, he was felicitated by the person he admired the most. On the occasion, Lata Ji said " Since he is like my son, I'm here to bless him, and I request everyone to support him, and not criticize him for petty reasons". For a world-class player who was dealing with a slump of form, these words mattered a lot. Lata Ji was one of the very few people who stood with Sachin through his thick and thin. The bond between the two Bharat Ratna award recipientsJi was so pure, that Sachin was the first person to reach Lata Ji's house after knowing about her demise.
Lata Ji might not be present physically in this world, but through her melodies and masterpieces, she will live forever in the hearts of people. The legacy she left behind is huge. She is a legend of music, yet her fondness and love for gentlemen's games are unmatchable. Her selfless act for Indian cricket in 1983 is something that India will never forget. If one has to speak about very few people to have played a part in Indian cricket, despite being not related to it, Lata Ji's name would be on the top of that list. Her demise has left a void in our hearts, but legends like these never die, they live forever till there is the sun.