`Ae mere ...` was a Lata-Asha duet
New Delhi: It is a song that brought tears to Jawaharlal Nehru`s eyes but not many know that Pradeep`s `Ae mere watan ke logon` was originally planned as a duet to be sung by Lata Mangeshkar and sister Asha Bhosle.
Lata, who was not on good terms with the composer of the song, C Ramchandra, agreed to give her voice only on one condition that it will be recorded as a solo, says a new book.
"C Ramchandra had actually tuned `Ae mere watan ke logon` as a duet...Lata and C Ramchandra were not on talking terms by then. Kavi Pradeep played master reconciler.
"This coincidentally was when Lata, out of the blue called around six one morning at Pradeep`s Vile Parle home to express her keenness on singing `Ae mere watan ke logon`, provided she could do it as a solo," writes Raju Bharatan in his new book ‘A Journey Down Melody Lane’.
Bharatan says Asha had even rehearsed with the composer but was dropped when Lata insisted to record it solo.
"Pradeep found C Ramchandra, too, to be jumping at this chance to have his very own Lata back to render such a hallmark number. Forgotten in a trice were C Ramchandra`s long-spread rehearsals for the number with Asha Bhosle," the book says.
The song touched a chord with a nation traumatised by the 1962 defeat by China and Nehru was so moved that he hugged Lata.
Talking about the two sisters, whose rivalry is part of Bollywood lore, Bharatan says that O P Nayyar was the only composer, who stayed away from Lata at a time when others found it was crucial to have her voice in their songs.
Nayyar not only resisted Lata but started preparing Asha as a rival, a union that lasted nine years.
"No one, just no one, save O P Nayyar, made good so spectacularly as a composer, sans the vocals of Lata Mangeshkar, in the hurly-burly of the glitterati-chatterati industry. That too by sedulously promoting Lata`s still vocally groping sister, Asha Bhosle, to star-singing status,"
says the writer.
The OP-Lata confrontation began when the melody queen objected to Nayyar displacing her favourite director in the film `Mehbooba` in 1954.
OP and Asha went on to give musical gems like `Yeh hai reshmee zulfon ka andhera`, `Jaayiye aap kahaan jaayenge` and `Haaye, ishaaron ishaaron mein dil lene waale` but later
Asha then went on to create a different identity under the music direction of R D Burman, whom she later married.