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An Open letter to Lata Ji

By Padmanabhan NR

Mohd Rafi with Lata Mangeshkar and Jaikishan

Mohd Rafi with Lata Mangeshkar and Jaikishan

Padmashri, Padma Bhushan, Padma Vibhushan and Bharat Ratna Lataji,

There are some people who are born great, some acquire greatness and there are still others on whom greatness is thrust. You appear to belong to the third category. Fifty three years after the so-called rift with Rafi Saahab, thirty three years after his death and eighty three years of your own life time, if this is the issue that is pestering you most, you are really great. I don’t know whether it was your own inner voice only or coaxing by your ‘advisers’ that prompted you to talk like this and that too, in such a brazen manner. Whatever it may be Lataji, it is abundantly clear that with a coterie of friends like these – and with liberal inputs from your own self – you don’t require any enemies. They are available in-house. Aplenty.

Yet, I am thankful to you, Lataji. When I read and re-read your sentence that pronounces the end of duets, it gives an indication that it was Rafi Saahab who said the quit word first. Yours was only a reaction. We know our Rafi Saahab. He was mild, compassionate, caring, respectful for others feelings, soft-spoken, modest, never hurtful. It is a revelation that he also had a thus-far-and-no-further, enough is enough, discrete and bold persona that we never knew. The entire credit accrues to you for this first person account. Thanks a million again.

Then you bring in late Jaikishan’s name and that imaginary,  non-existent letter of apology. Lataji, the best way to spread a blatant lie is to believe it as the absolute truth oneself. Thereafter, the journey in substantiating it further becomes a far easier proposition. Who does not want to bask in nobility, more so people like you who revel in marauding persons around her to reach – and stay at – the top? The only problem here is that though a lie has an ethereal presence and spreads everywhere in thin air in this age of technology, it lacks firm legs to stand upon. Like the legendary Kalidas, you end up axing the same branch of the tree on which you are perched up! This world has not known a deft schemer who was also afflicted with a foot-in-the-mouth disease, you see!

May I ask you a simple question? Why did you not ask O P Nayyar for keeping you out of his scheme of things? Now, Ashaji not only happens to be your sister but also a versatile genius in her own right. Unlike the Sumans, the Vanis, the Shardas, the Jagjit Kaurs, the Mubaraks/ Shamshads and scores of others, she inherited the genes of survival from you, is her own master and would have retaliated and rebelled against you. She continued to sing with Rafi Saahab, regardless of your stance. I can very well visualize the scenario at a home where one sister patronizes the saint whom the other hates! Kaise din beete, kaise beeti ratiyaan, peeya jaane na….in constant re-play mode!!!

Most of us believed that you are Goddess Saraswati incarnate. The Goddess, indeed, endowed you with supernatural melody. At the same time, she also knew that you won’t be able to manage this largesse by way of your conduct. Humility, magnanimity, modesty, equanimity and due respect to others are traits that one has to learn and practice by him/ her. We don’t blame the Goddess. You can do only as much as take the horse to a water source; you can not make him drink it. Can you? Or may be only you can.

The room at the top is said to be quite lonely. Bharat Ratnas et-al are only covetous awards, pedestals, honours. To live up to these honours is a matter of responsibility, attitude and humility. That grace is missing. It is this aspect of yours that pains us the most. We don’t dispute your greatness as a singer. But, we do have reservations in accepting you as a role model.

Unlike Shahid Rafi and others, I don’t subscribe to the view of filing a defamation case against you. Instead, I would rather go the Lage Raho Munnabhai way and wish you a speedy recovery from this state of mind.


Padmanabhan NR

Rafi Foundation, Hyderabad Chapter.

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103 Blog Comments to “An Open letter to Lata Ji”

  1. Anonymous says:


  2. veer says:

    really rafi ji was a great singer but lata ji trully goddess saraswati she never tell a lie friends accept the truth she is real gem of india so honest so humble and very helpful woman she always does charity works and most respected not only in india but all over the world so think about this

  3. G R Agarwal says:

    Dear Friends,

    If Lataji has said something, and some of you find it wrong, then there is no need to over react. Nobody can check the veracity of past. And surely Lataji will not lie at this age. Would she ? So all Rafi fans, please ignore what she has said.

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