Lata Mangeshkar who turns 87 on September 28 is in no mood for celebrations after the Uri massacre. Saddened and worried, she mulls over the future of mankind as it turns progressively self-destructive and shares her thoughts in an interview with Subhash K Jha
Your tweet imploring your fans to not use their money to get flowers and chocolates for your birthday but to help the martyred soldier’s families touched a chord in everyone’s heart.
I sincerely feel we need to stop wasting money whether it is on food in the restaurants or useless gifts like flowers and chocolates. Every year on my birthday there are bouquets lining up the entire entrance to my home, right from the entry at the apartment door to my home on the first floor. And these bouquets often cost thousands of rupees. They serve no purpose.
Why do you feel that?
The love, that my well -wishers feel for me, cannot be enclosed in a bouquet. Why not use that money for the families of the soldiers? I’ve seen the pitiable financial condition of the families of martyred soldiers. I even saw a mother shouldering her soldier son’s corpse. I was deeply saddened. That’s when I thought it’s time we took a firm stance on the wastage of financial resources.
Your song ‘Ae mere watan ke logon’ sung 45 years ago remains a befitting tribute to the soldiers who died at Uri?
I suppose so. ‘Jo shaheed hue hain unki zaraa yaad karo qurbani’. Desh ko jawaan sambhalta hai. They give up their lives at a tender age. Mujhe bahot dukh hota hai. It’s because of the sacrifice of these soldiers that we are able to breathe a free air, feel safe in our homes.
So no celebrations?
I decided I will have no birthday celebration this year. I’ve told my family not to arrange anything and they completely understand. I’ve requested my well-wishers to send money to the soldier’s families, whatever they can afford. And I am happy to say they are doing so at my behest.
The world has gone up in flames. There is hatred everywhere, specially between our country and the neighbours. What is your message to your fans?
Everything has changed. Human beings and even the climate is now unpredictable. Extreme weather conditions play havoc with our lives. I am deeply saddened to see children suffer in natural calamities and during war. I am no one to dole out gyan to anyone. I am just an ordinary citizen. I don’t know if I am qualified to comment on such matters. But yes, I do wonder why nations don’t keep their own house in order instead of creating havoc in others’ domain. Why hurl bombs at nations? Hatred kills. Why not work on making our own country beautiful? Switzerland is considered the most peaceful country in the world. Why? Because they’ve concentrated on making their own country better and more developed and they do not look at other countries to harm them. We never hear of violence perpetrated by the Swiss.
What is your message to your fans in Pakistan?
Woh khush rahen shanti se rahen. Aur humen bhi khushi aur shanti se rehne den. I know the people there are just like us. They want peace. Only some elements don’t want peace. Love your country.