When Lata Mangeshkar Made Jawaharlal Nehru Cry!

Mumbai: Lata Mangeshkar had sung ‘Ae mere watan ke logon’ on January 26, 1963, at the National Stadium in New Delhi. Among the audience was Jawarharlal Nehru and his daughter Indira Gandhi.

So moved was the then-Prime Minister of India by Lata’s rendition of the patriotic song that he was moved to tears.

“Panditji said, ‘I had tears in my eyes’. They (Indira, Nehru Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan) complimented me. Then we were invited to Panditji’s home for tea,” Padma Vibhushan Lata recalled on another Republic Day, 58 years after that incident.

“Kisko pataa tha yeh gaana logon ko itna pasand ayega? (who knew the song would be so much liked by people). When ‘Ae mere’ was being created, we never thought it would become an immortal patriotic anthem. I recall vividly that cold winter evening in Delhi in 1963 when I sang the song as part of Republic Day celebrations in front of an audience that comprised President S. Radhakrishnan, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi and many other distinguished guests. It was Pradeepji, the poet who wrote the immortal lyrics, who came to me and asked me to sing the song. I initially declined because there was no time to rehearse and prepare to sing it in front of so many distinguished personalities,” Lata was quoted as saying by spotboye.

“But Pradeepji said if I don’t sing it, he would scrap the idea. Then I agreed. I suggested we format the song into a duet with me and my sister Asha (Bhosle). But Pradeepji wanted it to be a solo. I insisted that we do it as a duet. Asha even rehearsed for the song. But days before we were to fly to Delhi, she told me she won’t be going. I told her that her name had been printed in the newspapers as one of the singers for ‘Ae mera watan’… But she was adamant.”

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