On Monday, Asia’s Nightingale woke up to a barrage of messages and calls expressing grief over her decision to retire from active singing. A Marathi song titled “Ata visavyacha kshan” (it is time to rest now) sung by Lataji, which was posted on social media, triggered off a wave of raging grief among her fans.
But rest assured, all you “Lata bhakts”. She isn’t hanging her boots yet.
In an exclusive conversation, Lataji said: “I don’t know who started this rumour, or why. It seems like the work of an idle mind. Two days ago, I suddenly started getting all these messages and calls anxiously inquiring about my retirement.”
Lataji wondered where that came from. “I got to know that one of my Marathi songs ‘Ata visavyachi kshan’ was being seen as my swan song. But I sang that song five years ago! In 2013, music director Salil Kulkarni came to me with the song. I agreed to sing it mainly because it was written by the well-known poet Balakrishna Bhagwant Borkar. I had never sung any of his poetry. How was I to know that five years later it would be used by mischievous minds as my retirement song!”
Lataji assured her fans she has no plans to retire.
“I will continue to sing till my last breath. Music is the essence of my existence. We Mangeshkars are a family devoted to music. Take music away from our lives and we are nothing.”
I reminded her that jealous elements could be responsible for spreading retirement rumours, that in fact way back in the early 1960s an effort was made even to poison her.
Lataji replied softly: “I know. It is true that I was poisoned. But I don’t want to blame anyone for any of the setbacks of my life. Why should anyone be jealous of me now? I have stopped singing film songs for some years now.
“No, I won’t say, as you put it, they aren’t worthy of me anymore…I just can’t connect with today’s film songs. So I have bowed out. As far as non-film songs are concerned, I will continue to sing them no matter what.”