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When Lata Mangeshkar found an admirer in Pak's brutal dictator

By Sajjad Hussain
February 06, 2022 13:59 IST
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Pakistan's brutal dictator General Muhammad Zia ul Haq, known for banning music and other fine arts featuring women in the Islamic nation, could not remain untouched from the golden voice of Lata Mangeshkar and had once himself confessed that he was an admirer of India's nightingale.

Photograph: PTI Photo

Mangeshkar, 92, died at 8.12 am on Sunday in Mumbai due to multi organ failure after over 28 days of COVID-19 diagnosis, her sister Usha Mangeshkar and doctors treating her said.

According to an old interview, Zia confessed his admiration for Mangeshkar while talking with late Indian journalist Kuldip Nayar in 1982.

Nayar poked Zia by asking that the Indians say that whenever they want to bring some cultural troupe to the neighbouring country, it is not quite welcome in Pakistan.

The troupe apparently consisted of some leading female singers, including the legendary Lata Mageshkar.


Zia, who by that time had launched his project of Islamising Pakistan, said, "I am the man responsible. I myself am fond of Lata Mangeshkar but if you want to send her to Pakistan to sing, I'll say not now because it is not compatible with the current Pakistani spirit."

Zia took over the government in a military coup in 1977 after deposing the elected government of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, whom he got hanged in a murder case through his hand-picked judges.

As the country was bursting with protests and in order to control the anger and cure his unpopularity, Zia embarked on implementing several harsh measures in the name of Islam, including banning performances by women artists.

Zia, 64, served as the head of state of Pakistan from 1978 until his death in a plane crash in 1988.

The Indore-born Mangeshkar's first recorded song was in 1942 in the Marathi film Kiti Hasaal when she was just 13.

In October last year, 79 years later, Vishal Bhardwaj released Theek Nahi Lagta, a song with Mangeshkar's favourite lyricist Gulzar that was believed to have been lost.

Hers is the 'golden voice' that millions of South Asians tune into when they wake up and often the last thing they hear before calling it a day, the beating heart of a shared memory passed down generations.

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Sajjad Hussain
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