Melody queen Lata Mangeshkar had an affair with Bhupen Hazarika. His estranged wife Priyamvada Patel Hazarika told a local TV channel ahead of the Assamese balladeer's first death anniversary on November 5.
Legendary singer Lata Mangeshkar.
"Lata started a big affair with him," the octogenarian Priyamvada told DY365
in an interview aired on Saturday prime time.
Hinting that Lata was one of the reasons why she left the balladeer, Priyamvada said Bhupen and Lata shared one of the three bedrooms in their Tollygunje apartment whenever she came to Kolkata.
On one occasion, music director duo Kalyanji-Anandji told her in Gujarati that it was futile to stay up late expecting Bhupen to return to her bedroom.
"Lata was crazy after him, and he told me Priyam in India if a musician wants to come up, his songs have to be sung by Lata Mangeshkar. I asked why should you be in the room with her the whole night, he said ketiyaba koribo laage (sometimes you have to do it)," the Ottawa-based Priyamvada said.
An old picture of Bhupen Hazarika and Lata Mangeshkar.
Many in Assam are aware of Lata and Bhupen's affection for each other. But this is the first time that anyone has made the 'affair' public.
In his autobiography Moi Eti Jajabor (I am a Nomad), Bhupen wrote about a big Mumbai-based singer in his life. He wrote how his wife returned downcast after seeing off Lata at Kolkata airport.
He wrote: "I asked Priyam what happened, and she said maanuhjone kotha eta koley bhaal nalagil (I didn't like what she said). What did she say, I asked again. Priyam replied: 'She told me her love for you is no less than mine as your wife'."
Lataji is rather candid about confessing that she has a "fierce temper" in an interview to Mumbai Mirror. The songstress has also spoken about what went wrong with Mohd Rafi.
Lata Mangeshkar v/s Mohd Rafi: Songstress in another controversy
A Bollywood X-file is getting reopened, but still with nebulous conclusions. There has been much speculation about why Lata Mangeshkar and late Mohd Rafi fell out. Lataji in an interview made some claims which are challenged by Rafi saab's son.
Her exact quote is this: "Mohd Rafi saab and I fought over royalty rights. At a meeting attended by prominent singers and musicians, he 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 all my composers there and then and informed them to rope in another singer if it was a duet with Rafi saab."
Upon being asked as to how the reconciliation fell in place, she said: "Composer Jaikishan 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."
Lata Mangeshkar with Mohammed Rafi
But then there's a twist, as always, in the tale. Mumbai Mirror has printed a refutation copy also - this time an interview with Lt Mohd Rafi's son Shahid Rafi.
Quoting Shahid Rafi verbatim from the report: "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."
He has countered Lataji's claim about the written apology as well. He says: "If that is the case, let her show the letter. My father passed away about 25 years ago, and now she is talking about this letter? People keep valuable documents for even fifty years. Why hasn't she retained the paper which would give her dignity?"
He also feels that Rafi saab discontinued singing duets with Lataji and he opted to sing with another contemporary singer Suman Kalyanpur which made Lata Mangeshkar feel insecure.
Perhaps that letter would help settle matters once and for all.
(With additional inputs)