The Perpetual Rift Between Lata and Rafi

There has always been a sense of ill feeling for one another among colleagues since the inception of Bollywood’s musical department. Such has been the case with Lata Mangeshkar and Mohammad Rafi’s family.

It has been almost 37 years that Md. Rafi had passed away, on the 31st of July, 1980. But the malicious feelings have been persistent.

What Lata had to say

Lata Mangeshkar had after many years claimed that she had demanded that Md. Rafi should have apologized to her when she was willing to sing with him. Apparently, he did not wish to work with her.

She claimed that she had an argument with the legendary singer and had walked out of a meeting with him. The Rafis, however claimed that whatever Lata Mangeshkar was saying was the exact opposite of what actually happened.

What the Rafis think

Now, Rafi’s family has become adamant and they want Lata to apologize for her false claims in order to retain the honor of the artist who now rests in peace.

They did claim that the two leading professionals had issues with royalty. The family did not deny this fact. They are now thinking of settling matters legally. They also proudly added that Lata was facing competition from other female playback singers like Mubarak Begum and Geeta Dutt. Md. Rafi, however, had no male playback singer who could compete with him.

Another very important fact was that Md. Rafi couldn’t write. Lata Mangeshkar demanded a letter of apology. This was an irrational thing to ask for. Rafi’s son, Shahid Rafi, also wanted to know if she wrote a letter to his father and if it existed, she should produce it to solve this age-old issue.

His son-in-law, Meraj Ahmed, openly stated that Lata was trying to gain publicity because she had women competing against her for playback singing. One talented artist was Suman Kalyanpur, whose tonal quality and voice were unique. In his opinion, Lata was feeling threatened with so much competition.

The Truth behind the Malice

Mohammad Rafi’s personal assistant, Aamiruddin Ahmed Bari, was a man with a sharp memory. He provided in great deal what actually happened between Rafi and Lata. In 1961, the argument between Lata and Rafi began with their work in the Famous Studios in Mahalakshmi. There was a recording done that day, which was followed by a meeting. Those who were present were Geeta Dutt, Mubarak Begum, Manna De, Balbir and Talat Mehmood.

They were having a conversation about royalty and Md. Rafi claimed that he did not want royalty.

He was content with his fees or salary for his service, singing songs. He did not wish to put undue pressure on the producers who were busy with the film and were investing money for various reasons related to filmmaking. In case the film was not successfully accepted by the audience, it would be a financial burden for the producers.

The rest of the singers then started saying that perhaps Md. Rafi was not bothered about the issue because he had a business running smoothly in Hyderabad. He was not running short of cash.

The fight begins

This was the reason behind the difference between the two. Rafi and Lata did not work together for almost three years. They did not sing duets together. Their songs were recorded separately. Mahendra Kapoor would sing with Lata if there was a recording to be done. It was later replaced by Md. Rafi’s voice.

Lata’s losses

Lata’s projects began to decrease in number. From roughly 230, she sang 140 songs. This was not the only issue. Suman Kalyanpur was singing songs for a fee that was much lower than what Lata demanded for a recording. Lata realized that she needed to be back in the game. Jaikishan decided to bring the two singers together for upcoming projects and Md. Rafi stated that these issues did not bother him. He was preoccupied with work. Lata decided to reconcile by bringing flowers to his office and thus secured her position as the Nightingale of India for good.