Everyone, who is a fan of the great music in Raj Kapoor’s cinema, knows Lata Mangeshkar was the showman’s muse. He called her Mata Saraswati. He unconsciously dedicated all his best works to her voice. “I often visited Raj Saab’s home to meet Krishna Bhabhi (Mrs. Raj Kapoor) and the children. It was during one such visit that I first saw Rishi who was all of six month old then,” remembers Lata.
The moment was captured on camera for posterity. “And recently Rishiji sent me that picture of him in my godee (lap). Main tasveer dekh ke bahot khush hui. Sara Kapoor khandaan mujhse bahut pyaar karta hai. But I was especially close to Raj Saab and then his son Rishi.”
Kuch samay pehle Rishi ji ne mujhe unki aur meri ye tasveer bheji thi.wo sab din,sab baatein yaad aarahi hain. Main shabdheen hogayi hun. pic.twitter.com/IpwCKMqUBq
— Lata Mangeshkar (@mangeshkarlata) April 30, 2020
Not many people know this. India’s resident nightingale Lata Mangeshkar is known to send gifts to members of the film fraternity whom she is fond of. She sent Rishi a statute of Sai Baba. After receiving the gift Rishi Kapoor had said emotionally, “When Lataji heard that I was a Sai Baba devotee, she sent me a beautiful Sai Baba moorthy (statue). It is a gift I’ll cherish forever.”
Says Lata, “Jee haan. Rishiji and I exchanged communication constantly. Even when he went to America for medical treatment he would call me. I would call him to ask about his health. When he returned he assured me he had recovered. And now all of a sudden, he’s gone. Mujhe vishwas nahin hota woh chale gaye. 67 is no age to die. Rishiji was my favourite Kapoor after Raj saab. It’s a big personal loss to me. With his going, my relationship with the Kapoor family has ended.”
Lata loves Rishi’s acting. “He was a natural-born actor, born for the camera. So handsome and so full of life and sunshine! I loved him in Bobby, Prem Rog, Chandni, Henna, Kabhi Kabhie and so many other films. He was one of the finest actors of our country. Indian cinema has lost a giant. And I’ve lost someone very precious.”
Incidentally, Lata Mangeshkar and Rishi Kapoor’s son Ranbir Kapoor share the same birthday (September 28). “I’ve met Ranbir when he was a child at Raj Saab’s place. But I don’t know him now. He is a fine actor. Is he as good as his father?”