“I have vivid memories of my mother even when I was 3 or 4. I remember the exact colour of the saree she wore, the design of her ear-rings, the rings that she wore in her toes… I remember every detail of my childhood specially the times I shared with my mother. I was a very precocious child. My mother had a very tough time curbing my enthusiasm. I had so much energy. I would be running around the whole day singing to everyone the songs that I heard my father (renowned classical singer and theatre actor Pandit Dinanath Mangeshkar) teach to his students. I had an instantaneous grasp over tunes…and this quality came in good stead when I became a professional playback singer.
I would learn songs very fast, and I would rush to the kitchen to sing my newly-learnt song to my mother. The kitchen was very large as food for a daily stream of guests had to be prepared. My mother would be toiling endlessly in the kitchen, and I’d hop skip and jump into her domain. There were many large containers in the kitchen containing the food grains, the spices, etc. I would plonk myself on one of the containers and announce in Marathi, ‘Maai, I’ve learnt one more song.’ She’d sigh and let me sing. Then I’d say, ‘Now listen to this one.’ She would let me go head while continuing to cook. Then I’d persuade her to listen to a third and fourth. Finally her patience would wear thin and she would say, ‘Don’t burn my ears any more. Go and play.’
She would shoo me away. But I’d soon be back with one more…My mother as my first dedicated audience. It was with her that I realized the importance of holding the listener’s attention while singing live. My mother never differentiated between us sisters (Lata, Meena, Asha, Usha) and our only brother (Hridaynath). In fact all of us women in the household became our only brother’s collective mother.”