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Bollywood Icon Amitabh Bachchan Bestowed with Esteemed Lata Deenanath Mangeshkar Award

In a solemn yet celebratory gathering on Wednesday, the legendary figure of Indian cinema, Amitabh Bachchan, was conferred the prestigious Lata Deenanath Mangeshkar Puraskar. An embodiment of humility and grace, Bachchan remarked on the distinct privilege he felt to be accorded an honor that commemorates the memory of Lata Mangeshkar, whose celestial voice, he believes, has the power to transcend earthly realms and connect the human spirit to the divine.

This accolade was posthumously conceived by the Mangeshkar family and the trust named after her to perpetuate the legacy of the melody queen. She was the most senior among the Mangeshkar siblings, who passed away in 2022 due to multiple organ failure.

The 24th of April, remembered as the memorial day for Deenanath Mangeshkar—the renowned theatre and music veteran, and patriarch of the Mangeshkar family—was chosen for the presentation of the award to Bachchan. The venerable actor, whose career has enamored audiences for over fifty years with classic films like “Zanjeer,” “Deewar,” “Chupke Chupke,” “Mohabbatein,” and “Piku,” expressed how blessed he felt receiving such recognition.

In his acceptance speech, Bachchan, voiced deeply personal sentiments, “I’m fortunate to receive this award today. I never really regarded myself worthy of such an award, but Hridyanath (Mangeshkar) ji tried hard so that I could come here. He even invited me for this ceremony last year.” Apologetically, he admitted turning down the previous invitation due to personal reasons but acknowledged that this year he found no excuse to miss such an esteemed event.

Recounting his father’s, the celebrated Hindi poet Harivansh Rai Bachchan’s, words, he likened Mangeshkar’s transcendent voice to “shehad ki dhaar” (a stream of honey). In his father’s view, just as honey flows uninterrupted, so too does the melody in Mangeshkar’s voice flow without breach, uplifting souls toward oneness with the ‘parmatma’ (the higher power).

Initially, the responsibility of presenting the award was to rest on the shoulders of Asha Bhosle, the second of the Mangeshkar siblings, who due to her illness was unable to attend. In her stead, Usha Mangeshkar, her younger sister, had the honor of bestowing the award upon Bachchan.

This illustrious award has been created to recognize individuals who have made consequential offerings to the nation and its society. With Prime Minister Narendra Modi being its first laureate, followed by Asha Bhosle in 2023, Amitabh Bachchan joined this noble echelon.

The ceremonial evening proceeded under the auspices of Hridaynath Mangeshkar, the youngest sibling. Adding luster to the event, A.R. Rahman, the musical maestro, received the Master Deenanath Mangeshkar Puraskar for his invaluable contribution to Indian music. With a career interlaced with collaborative creations featuring both Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhosle, Rahman reflected on his timeless bond with the Mangeshkar family. He articulated his reverence for their dedication and expressed how they serve as a paragon of commitment to his family and himself.

Additionally, the ceremony honored various other individuals and organizations for their services to music, literature, non-profit social work, cinema, and theatre. Among the awardees were the Deepstambh Foundation Manobal for social service, Marathi writer Manjiri Phadke for literature, Randeep Hooda for best film production and acting in “Swatantrya Veer Savarkar,” singer Roopkumar Rathod for music, Bhau Torsekar for editorial services, and Atul Parchure for theatre and drama.

As the accolades were bestowed, the storied history of Indian cinema and the rich cultural tapestry of Hindi movies were palpably felt, reminding everyone of the enduring legacy and the luminous path still being charted by the luminaries of the industry.