They had a 53-year-old association and therefore the news of Yash Chopra's death was like a bolt from the blue for singing legend Lata Mangeshkar.
Yash Chopra died Sunday after multi-organ failure. He was 80.
"The news of Yashji going came as a bolt from the blue. Nothing had prepared me for this loss. I had been told he was down with dengue... I was planning to visit him in the hospital. But that visit kept getting put off because of problems in the family. Now I will never be able to see him," said Lata, who is three years older to him.
"I have lost a true friend and dear brother. He loved me to death. He had made it clear that I'd have to sing for all his films from the time he turned director with Dhool Ka Phool in 1959. I think I sang for all his films except Waqt," she added.
She feels he was not only a master storyteller, but also had a good sense of music.
"When he turned into an independent producer with Daag'in 1973, he sat and explained the story to me and the situation for every song. He had a great music sense, though he couldn't sing himself. His wife Pam (Pamela) not only sang, she also had a good knowledge of Hindustani classical music, which Yashji lacked. Together they created an atmosphere for those timeless scores in Yashji's films.
"One thing that you'd always find in the music of a Yash Raj's film is a number based on Punjabi rhythms. Yashji had a penchant for Punjabi songs and had to have one of them in all his films. He had an amazing sense of poetry too. That was evident in the songs and music of Kabhi Kabhie," she said.
For the future generation, Yash Chopra has left behind a treasure to learn from, she says.
"He was an entire institution in filmmaking. He made every frame look so beautiful. There's so much misery, squalor and poverty in real life. The man on the street went to see a Yash Chopra film to live a dream where everything was picture-perfect, where women were lovely visions in chiffon saris shot against picturesque backdrops in Switzerland and Amsterdam (Netherlands). I am proud and privileged to have given voice to Yashji's lovely heroines.
"But Yashji and I were bonded on a much level deeper than the professional. He genuinely loved me. Cinema was his passion. All the money that he made went back into making films. I hadn't met Yashji for some time now. He kept asking me to come over to his studio (of which he was very proud) and to his home where Pam and Yashji made me feel like family. I will miss that warmth and hospitality. My heart reaches out to Pamji," Lata said.