The Nightingale of India, Lata Mangeshkar, popularly called Lata Didi, turned 92 on Tuesday. India has two passions – Bollywood and Cricket – and Lata Didi has a very close association with this sport as well.
On her birthday, here are some trivia about her great love for the gentleman’s game.
India won the World Cup in 1983. Urban legend has it that Lata Didi hosted a dinner for the Indian team, who was popularly called Kapil’s Devils, before the finals, which she reportedly watched at Lord’s.
India stunned the Clive Lloyd-led West Indies team, who were overwhelming favourites, and captain Kapil Dev also invited her to have dinner at the team hotel.
While the above is anecdotal and actually may not have happened, it is certainly a fact that BCCI wanted to honour the cricketers but was short of money those days. It was Lata Didi who performed for free at a concert and Rs 20 lakh was raised and every team member was given 1 lakh. Those days, there was not much money in cricket and Rs 1 lakh was a big sum. In contrast, the players of Dhoni’s 2011 World Cup-winning team got Rs 2 crore each.
Earlier too, Didi had shown her interest in cricket on multiple occasions, as had her illustrious sister Asha Bhosle. She and Asha Tai visited Mumbai’s iconic Taj hotel after India’s historic 1978-79 win against Pakistan and gave goodies to the Indian team led by Sunil Gavaskar. Both sisters had also hosted the Indian team at her residence in the 1960s when Pakistan visited Mumbai, and yesteryear cricketers fondly remember the two legendary singers serving the food themselves. Didi was also a regular for India’s matches at Brabourne.
Didi shares a special relationship with Sachin Tendulkar whom she considers her son and he too calls her ‘aai’ (mother). To quote Lata didi, “Sachin treats me like his mother and I always pray for him like a mother. I can never forget the day when he called me ‘aai’ (mother) for the first time. I had never imagined that. It was a pleasant surprise for me and I feel blessed to have a son like him.
Much before the cricketer got a Bharat Ratna (in 2014), which she had got in 2011, she used to publicly say that he deserved one. Sachin’s birthday (April 24) falls on her dad’s death anniversary and hence, she regrets not being able to meet him on this day.
The 2018 IPL final was held in Mumbai but Sachin was missing from the stadium. Later, he revealed in his tweet on May 28 that he and his wife Anjali watched it with Lata Didi at her residence.
As MP, Didi did not take a single rupee as salary or a house in New Delhi. Similarly, Sachin too did not take a house in New Delhi and donated his entire MP salary of Rs 90 lakh to the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund.
Lata Didi presented Sachin with a photo frame with lyrics of two of her best songs – ‘Tu jahaan, jahaan chalega’and ‘Piya tose naina laage re’ at a party hosted by Raj Thackeray. On the occasion, Sachin said that he was moving into a new house and wanted his music room to have some kind of article, which Lata Didi had used, and also mentioned that she had always been his silent companion, especially when he travelled aboard as he always listened to her music in his playing days. Sachin had then presented Didi with a signed tee shirt.
Not just Sachin, Didi has, always through her Twitter handle, encouraged match-winning performances of Indian stars, such as VVS Laxman and current captain Virat Kohli.
Happy Birthday Lata Didi!
(Ritesh is based in Mumbai and writes on sports and cinema. His Twitter handle is @riteshmisra and blogs on www.thesportsmanwritesaway.wordpress.com)