The running feud between legendary singer Lata Mangeshkar’s family and Indore Marathi Samaj over financing Mai Mangeshkar auditorium has worsened to the extent that a section of Samaj members has demanded to change its name.
Indore known as birthplace of Lata Mangeshkar where her father, Pandit Dinanath spent considerable time, has no memorial to her credit. The only memorial, Mai Mangeshkar auditorium named after Lata’s mother, Shuddhamati stands on verge of being auctioned. “We feel hurt and betrayed by Mangeshkars as they withdrew after publicly promising full assistance for constructing auditorium. We feel like changing auditorium’s name,” said a member of the Marathi Samaj, who did not wish to be named.
Set up on 3244.3 sq m of land leased out by the Indore Development Authority in Sneh Nagar, Mai Mangeshkar auditorium was constructed between 1999 and 2008. Over the decade, relations between the Mangeshkars and the Indore Marathi Samaj, a socio-cultural organisation comprising 3,000 Marathi-speaking people, most of who belong to middle income group, soured.
Though there was no legal contract between the Mangeshkars and Indore Marathi Samaj for financing the construction of the auditorium, letters (HT has copies) written by Lata Mangeshkar, and her brother, Hrudaynath to the samaj between 1999 and 2006, and their visits to the city during the period show that they were keen about the project. The Samaj had a modest plan to build the auditorium at cost of Rs 64 lakh but modified it and prepared a bigger project worth Rs 1.20 crore on the assurance given by the Mangeshkars.
We haven’t got any money from Mangeshkars so far: Samaj secretary
“We have not got any money from them so far,” said Chandrakant Paradkar, secretary of the samaj. The trouble started when Hrudaynath Mangeshkar, during a visit to Indore inquired about 15,000 sqft of land left vacant in front of the auditorium, where he wanted shops to be built so that the rent collected could be used to maintain the building.
The Mangeshkar family expected the Marathi Samaj to hand over the ownership of the auditorium to them but it did not happen. After 2006, the Mangeshkars stopped interacting with the samaj.
“We faced an unpleasant experience from them (the Mangeshkars),” said samaj vice-president Archana Chitale.
Sharayu Waghmare, the joint secretary of the samaj said: “A feeling of hurt persists after they withdrew their support.”
Samaj took a loan of Rs 34 lakh to complete the auditorium’s construction
Left in lurch, the Samaj took a loan of Rs 34 lakh to complete the auditorium’s construction while rest came from donations made by the Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh governments, Indore Municipal Corporation, and political leaders from Maharashtra, including Vilas Rao Deshmukh, Sharad Pawar, Sushil Kumar Shinde, and Manohar Joshi.
Over the years the loan amount with interest increased to Rs 1.05 crore for which the Chhatrapati Shivaji co-operative credit society obtained an order to auction the auditorium.
Though the samaj has re-paid Rs 88 lakh, the credit society wants the Mangeshkars to pay the remaining sum to clear the debt.
Attempts to convince the Mangeshkar family have failed. Advocate Ashok Chitale, who represents the samaj, wrote a letter to his friend, Dyandeo Sardesai, who is close to the Mangeshkars, to intervene.
In January 2015, Chitale also wrote a letter to Asha Bhonsale (HT has copy) for help but there was no response.
‘Marathi Samaj’s expectations from us to clear their debt are unjustified’
A member of the Mangeshkar family, who asked not to be named, said the family never gave a written commitment that they will give money for the construction of the auditorium. “Indore is special to us but Marathi Samaj’s expectations from us to clear their debt are unjustified. Most of us are more than 70 years of age when it is not possible to earn and donate,” said the family member, over phone from Mumbai.