Lata Mangeshkar on her Problem with Raj Kapoor and How She Yet Sang for Rishi Kapoor's Bobby
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Lata Mangeshkar on her Problem with Raj Kapoor and How She Yet Sang for Rishi Kapoor's Bobby

India's legendary playback singer Lata Mangeshkar recalls her association with Rishi Kapoor's films

Raj Kapoor’s Bobby which  introduced Rishi Kapoor as a leading man to Hindi cinema wiped out his  huge financial debts. It was the biggest hit of Raj Kapoor’s career as a  filmmaker and  regarded as  the most iconic love story of all times.

During a conversation with me, Rishi Kapoor had spoken of the enduring  popularity of Bobby. “It was  the innocence of the young lovers, masoomiyat tthi unke andar. Then there was the magic of Raj Kapoor in  every frame. The  songs composed by  Laxmikant-Pyarelal were phenomenally good. Lataji’s vocals  for Dimple were a  highpoint.”

Speaking of  the  music and songs, Lataji had refused to sing for  Raj Kapoor’s Mera Naam Joker and had also indicated  that she would not  sing for  any subsequent  films of Raj Kapoor. Raj Saab was in deep debt after the massive failure of Mera Naam Joker. He  needed  a superhit film. For that he needed  superhit songs. And  for the songs to be superhits Raj saab needed to get Lataji back.

He therefore  hit on a masterstroke. He asked Laxmikant-Pyarelal who were very close to Lataji to do the music of Bobby. This was L-P’s first film for Raj Kapoor. And they were  assigned the task of  cajoling  Lataji back.

The deal was simple. No  Lataji, no Bobby. Luckily she  relented. Speaking to me  about incident for the  first  time  Lataji says,  “Yes, there was some problem with Raj Saab during Mera Naam Joker and  I didn’t sing for that film. I found the words for one of the songs inappropriate and we disagreed on that.  But I was back with Bobby.”

A lot of  the  film’s success is attributed to  Lataji’s  songs like Jhooth bole  kauva kaate, Mujhe kuch kehna hai, Hum tum ek kamre mein  band hon, Ae phansa and Ankhiyon ko rehne de. She brushes  off the  compliment. “I would say the credit for the  success of Bobby must go to Rishi Kapoor. Yeh unki pehli picture tthi as a hero aisa  lagta hai nahin ttha (it didn’t look like his first  film as a  leading man). If Bobby is considered an all-time classic it is because of Rishi  Kapoor.”

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