Meet Lata Mangeshkar’s Pakistani fans who can sing perfectly in her voice

Waseem 'Lata' and Alishba Riaz are diehard fans of the legendary Indian playback singer Lata Mangeshkar and can copy her singing voice so well.–Photo courtesy Arab News

Music is one of the few things that unite Pakistanis and Indians, two nations otherwise divided by the bitter memories of the 1947 partition and then three wars in the subsequent years.

One such display of unity between Pakistanis and Indians was seen on February 6, the day when veteran Indian singer Lata Mangeshkar passed away at the age of 92. From ordinary Pakistanis to top political leaders of the country, everyone offered condolences and paid tributes to the legend.

As every Pakistani loves Lata’s voice, there are some who can sing her songs really well. Muhammad Waseem and Alishba Amir belong to the second category.

Waseem, who lives in the southern Pakistani city of Hyderabad, has been given the alias of Waseem Lata for his ability to copy the voice of the legendary Indian singer. He told Arab News he was heartbroken to hear about Lata’s death because he would not be able to fulfil his “utmost desire” to meet his mentor.

Lata was best known as an Indian playback singer and was loved by people around the world for her ability to tailor her voice and emotions to the actresses she gave her voice to on the screen.

Waseem, now 40 years old, heard Lata’s songs as a young man and soon realised he could perfectly mimic her singing voice. He says he didn’t even know Lata’s name at that time.

“It’s been around 20 years since I started singing Lata Ji’s songs and this has earned me the title of Lata,” Waseem told Arab News. “When I started [singing], people admired me saying my audio was just like Lata Ji’s audio, it is a copy of Lata. Only then I came to know for the first time that the audio which I had admired for years was of Lata Mangeshkar.”

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Waseem has performed in cities across Pakistan and is in search for a financier to record an album of original songs. He recalled how people at concerts demanded the sound system be shut down and he perform without a band to prove this was his real voice.

Waseem knows around 60 Lata Mangeshkar songs by heart and says he wants to triple that number so that her songs can “last forever.”

Young Alishba Amir, a ninth class student from the port city of Karachi, is another Lata Mangeshkar fan from Pakistan. She too can mimic Lata’s singing voice very well and wants to keep the legendary singer’s legacy alive.

Alishba says being praised for having a singing voice like Lata Mangeshkar’s is a matter of pride for her.

“When people compliment me by saying that my voice resembles Lata’s, this gives me immense pleasure,” the 14-year-old told Arab News.

Although Alishba wants to join Pakistan’s civil services, she also wants to become a professional singer. Her father Amir Riaz has arranged a music teacher for her and hopes she would follow in the footsteps of Lata Mangeshkar.

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