“No guests, only phone calls,” says Lata Mangeskhar, when asked how she celebrated her 91st birthday on Monday. “My first and hopefully last birthday during the Covid-19 virus.” India’s resident Nightingale turned a year older on September 28 without much fanfare. “Waise bhi mujhe zyada shor sharaaba pasand nahin hai. Aur iss baar toh bilkul nahin (even otherwise I’m not too fond of people making a fuss about my birthday). There are so many people suffering and dying all over the world. Any kind of celebration seems not just inappropriate but highly insensitive,” she adds.
Lata recalls the time when she had to move out of her home every year on her birthday to avoid the crowds. “They all wanted to see me on my birthday. It used to get impossible for me to cope with the visitors and guests. So yes, I used to shift to a hotel on my birthday.” However, Lataji has nothing but gratitude for all the good wishes she received on her birthday this year.
“It is impossible for me to acknowledge all the good wishes. But I do want to say that the love that I get at my age from my well-wishers all over the world is the biggest gift anyone can receive. I hope next year at this time we’ll be back to normal, so I can see some of my well-wishers and friends,” she mentions. She also feels there is a lot to be grateful for. When asked how many believe there never was and never will be another Lata Mangeshkar, she says, “I have to disagree with you. There have been many talented singers before and after me. Noor Jehanji, Shamshad Begumji, Geeta Duttji before me, and my sister Asha were all extremely talented. Among the current voices I like Alka Yagnik, Shreya Ghosal and Sunidhi Chauhan.”