March 31 will be a day to remember at the Mangeshkar residence, when three Mangeshkar siblings come together at an awards ceremony. Stories of the rivalry between Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhosle are legendary, so much so that Sai Paranjpye’s 1998 film Saaz was reportedly based on their relationship.
But now, the man responsible for bringing the two singing legends on one stage is their younger brother, Pandit Hridayanath Mangeshkar.
Last year, Hridayanath turned 75 and decided to institute the Pandit Hridayanath Mangeshkar Award. The award consists of a cash prize of R1 lakh and a memento. The first recipient was his sister, Lata. At that time, she was asked who she’d like to receive the award from: Dr Abdul Kalam, Sachin Tendulkar or Amitabh Bachchan. She chose the Bollywood superstar. This year, the second recipient of the award is Lata’s younger sister, Asha. And what will make the occasion special is that Lata will present it to her. The singer was reportedly overwhelmed when she was told that Asha was the winner.
“Asha has always been a winner. I sometimes believe she is a far more versatile singer than me,” she says. To prove how happy she is, Lata, who seldom attends functions and felicitations these days, will travel to Vile Parle and stay on till the end of the ceremony.
Asha says, “It is the award named after my brother and presented by my elder sister. That is far more precious than all the money and awards in the world.” According to Avinash Prabhavalkar, a friend of Hridayanath, “Ashaji has taken her programme seriously and has given up all other assignments to concentrate on the songs she will sing that evening.”