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'Latadidi was crazy about cricket'

Last updated on: February 06, 2022 16:49 IST

'She was not just a fan; she knew the game and could differentiate between a good cricketer and a great cricketer.'
Hemant Kenkre remembers his 'Didi Maushi'.

Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhosle. Photograph: Pradeep Bandekar 

IMAGE: Lata Mangeshkar and her sister Asha Bhosle. Photograph: Pradeep Bandekar

I called Lataji 'Didi Maushi'. After having the privilege of knowing the family, I can say that the beauty of Didi Maushi was her sense of simplicity, humility, dignity and class.

She was a complete family person and was very maternal.

She was the glue that bound the family together. Both the sisters -- Lataji and Ashaji (Bhosle) have no ego that comes with being a celebrity. They also kept the world of the Hindi film industry away from the family.

I have not been able to process the fact that she is no more. I can't imagine that I am talking in the past tense.

I met her for the first time in the late 1970s when I played senior level cricket in Bombay. I was playing for the Cricket Club of India at that time.

I got to know the family because I used to play squash with her nephew Anand (Bhosle) at the CCI.

What struck me about her was how amazingly informed she was about the game. She was crazy about cricket!

She was just not a fan, but she knew the game and could differentiate between a good cricketer and a great cricketer.

She was a big fan of Sunil Gavaskar.

In the 1950s and 1960s there was a tradition of felicitating cricketers. I remember seeing a photograph of Lataji and Ashaji serving food by hand to Polly Umrigar and other cricketers. Both sisters gave the cricketers gold rings.

She was also an outstanding photographer and was an excellent mimic with a great sense of humour.

Her home was simple and elegant. She herself usually wore white saris with a border.

I remember there used to be a music room in the house. Her brother Hridaynath Mangeshkar is a genius music director himself who is regarded as a pathbreaker in Marathi music. His songs were not always easy to sing and I used to see her rehearsing for them in the music room.

I have never heard her criticise anyone from the industry. She kept excellent relations with colleagues and compatriots -- she commanded respect and did not demand it.

I remember she and I having a conversation a few months after (Rahul Dev Burman) Pancham's passing. All her songs are a class apart, it would be difficult to pick favourites, but personally, I feel all the songs she sang for S D Burman and R D Burman, C Ramachandra, Shankar Jaikishan were outstanding.

Both Lataji's and Ashaji's songs epitomise every mood of the human emotion.

She was very professional. I remember she had once done a live performance at the Andheri Sports Complex in Mumbai which was also attended by Sachin Tendulkar -- that was the last live show I saw of her.

She was probably the first who got her musicians and singers to wear the same kind of clothes for live shows. The entire group had coats with 'LM' monogramed crests for shows in USA and UK.

She was probably also the first singer from Hindi films to sing at the Royal Albert Hall in London.

I grew up in the 1950s, 1960s when Lataji, Ashaji, Rafi sahab and Kishoreda dominated Hindi music.

I was very fortunate to know her. A part of something has truly died in many of us today.

Hemant Kenkre, communication consultant, writer and former cricketer, spoke to Archana Masih/