“There can never be another Sachin”: Lata-ji’s very special bond with Tendulkar

When Tendulkar was not allowed to have his say in the Rajya Sabha, Lata Mangeshkar—in a rare display of emotion—expressed her displeasure on a public platform

Sachin Tendulkar and Lata Mangeshkar
Sachin Tendulkar and Lata Mangeshkar

Subhash K Jha

India's nightingale Lata Mangeshkar was a huge cricket buff—and also very close to the master of the game, Sachin Tendulkar. Super-iconic living legends, Lata Mangeshkar and Sachin Tendulkar shared a very special bond—and it was not just over the Bharat Ratna. Remembering their relationship on the Master Blaster's 50th birthday:

When Tendulkar was not allowed to have his say in the Rajya Sabha, Mangeshkar was upset. In a rare display of emotion, expressed her displeasure on a public platform. The supremo of the 'Sing Sena' said, “Sachin calls me Maa. He called to take my blessings before proceeding to Parliament. Then, when I heard what had happened, I was very distressed. Sachin ko bolne nahin diya [they didn’t allow him to speak]. This is an insult to not just one of cricket’s biggest icons, but also to any voice chosen to be heard in the Parliament.”

Recalling her own stint in the Rajya Sabha, which was not free of controversies, Mangeshkar added, “I was criticised for not attending Parliament, when in fact I had made it clear that it would be difficult for me to do so due to health issues. But when Sachin attends, he is not allowed to speak. So we (with the voices that are chosen to be heard) get slammed either way, whether we choose to remain silent or to speak.”

Mangeshkar felt strongly that Tendulkar’s voice must be heard: “He is a man of integrity and a sportsperson of tremendous worth. I am glad he chose to put the speech that he prepared for Parliament on Twitter. The advantage of social media is that we get to express ourselves directly. The disadvantage is we often get trolled for speaking our heart out.”

The two Bharat Ratnas went back a long way. While Mangeshkar loved cricket and especially Tendulkar’s batting, the Master Blaster loves film songs and specially Mangeshkar's 'Mera saya saath hoga', the Madan Mohan composition from the film Mera Saaya.

Recalling her early association with the Tendulkar, the singer once said, “I first saw him play at Sharjah. I remember a sandstorm hit the stadium. But Sachin stood his ground. He sat there with his cricket togs on, waiting for the storm to pass. In him, I saw the determination to excel that I always admire. I remember a few years ago, on Sachin’s birthday on 24 April, I was invited to his friend Raj Thackeray’s home to meet him. I had taken a figurine of Sai Baba because I got to know Sachin is a Sai bhakt [devotee].”

Mangeshkar's voice would brim over with affection when speaking of Tendulkar. "He calls me Maa, and he is like my son," she said, "Sachin has always been very close to me. Whenever we meet Sachin and Anjali, they shower me with their genuine affection. Sachin is very dear to me. He loves my songs, specially Tu jahan jahan chalega mera saaya saath hoga. I've given him a handwritten copy of that song, which I believe he still has. When he decided to retire from cricket, I was deeply saddened. One tends to get tired of all the external pressures imposed on one’s abilities."

As an artiste, Mangeshkar had never had to consider retirement herself: "Luckily and by God’s grace, I never had to face such a decision. I never felt the pressures that Sachin must have felt. There were public discussions on whether he should retire. Did people think Sachin lacked the wisdom to know when to quit? Whether it’s a game of cricket or singing, we know when to call it a day. Let the artiste decide when to retire."

"There can never be another Sachin," Mangeshkar had said. "I remember how shocked I was when Sunil Gavaskar had announced his retirement. I felt the same sense of shock when Sachin called it a day. I’ve watched generations of cricketers play. Sachin is one of a kind. Sachin will never tell us why he really retired. He doesn’t believe in saying too much. Kuch toh hua hai [something must have happened]. He must have taken the decision after great deliberation.”

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