Lata Mangeshkar’s interview to Mumbai Mirror titled “I am far from perfect - I have a fierce temper”, where the songstress recalled her fight with (late) Mohd Rafi over royalty rights and said she later got a written apology from him.
Lataji had told Mumbai Mirror: “At a meeting attended by prominent singers and musicians, Rafi Saab stood up and said, 'Main aaj se Lata ke saath nahin gaoonga'. I retorted, 'Rafi Saab, ek minute. Aap nahin gaayenge mere saath yeh galat baat hai. Main aapke saath nahin gaoongee'. I stormed out and called my composers there and informed them to rope in another singer if it was a duet with Rafi Saab.” Asked about their patch-up, she had said, “Composer Jaikishen took the initiative. I asked him to get a written apology from Rafi Saab. I got the letter and ended the cold war. But whenever I’d see him, the hurt would return.”
Rafi’s son Shahid called a special press conference here Wednesday (26 Sep 2012) to give his verdict on Lata's claim. Shahid Rafi has come out in strong protest, alleging she is lying and maligning his father’s name, especially now when neither Rafi nor composer Jaikishen are alive to defend themselves.
Shahid Rafi, explaining their side of the story, says, “The controversy went on for a while. Lataji and some other singers were looking for royalty, saying they should get a cut from the producer, director etc. My dad wasn’t very keen on that. He was this humble, soft spoken, amazingly generous person. His stand was, ‘Our job is to sing and we get money for that. There is no point in getting greedy.’ Hence, they had a fight and he decided to stop singing any duet with her.”
Questioning Lataji’s claim that his dad had given her a written apology, he adds, "My father was a national property. His fan following is bigger than any artist. He passed away about 25 years ago, and now she is talking about this letter? People keep valuable documents for even 50 years. Why hasn’t she retained the paper which would give her dignity? If she can prove that my father had written an apology letter to her, then she should come out and produce it. In case she does, I am ready to apologise to her," Shahid told reporters here.
Shahid’s version of the patch-up is rather different. He says after his dad stopped singing with Lataji, he continued getting offers for duets and opted to sing with another brilliant singer, Suman Kalyanpur.
Shahid claimed that his father had no competition at the time, whereas Lata did.
"There is no competition between her and my father as actors like Shammi Kapoor and Dharamendra wanted him to sing for them. But there were other female singers like Suman Kalyanpur, Hemlata and Mubarak Begum and others who might have been competition to her. So maybe her career was at stake," he said.
At this point, Lataji started feeling insecure and approached composer Jaikishan to make peace between them.
“When Jaikishan approached my father and requested him to make amends with Lataji, he immediately agreed because he wasn’t the kind to hold on to grudges. But there is no way he would have apologised to her because he always stood by his principles. Why didn’t she bring up this issue when he was alive?” Shahid says, adding, “I don’t have to give any further justification about my dad’s reputation. Even today, my dad has more followers than Lataji.”
Mohammad Rafi was one of the most popular singers of 1950s and 1960s and gave hits like Chaudhvin ka chand ho, Husnwale tera jawab nahin, Chhoo lene do nazuk hothon ko and Maine poocha chand se. He died in 1980. He was 55.
He also sang duets with Lata such as Yunhi tum mujhse baat karti ho and Tujhe jeewan ki dor se.