A duet of disharmony
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- IPL spot-fixing: 'Bookie' Vindoo was close to BCCI chief's son-in-law, say cops
- Jessica Lall case: Shayan Munshi to face perjury trial
Why did Lata Mangeshkar have to rake up her controversial conflict with another legendary singer Mohammad Rafi, half-a-century after the matter was buried? She could have answered the interviewer's question with something like: "It's all part of the history the world knows, but after we settled it with each other, I have nothing to add. Rafi was one of our greatest singers and I respect him."
But instead she has ignited another controversy by saying Rafi had sent her a written apology after their disagreement over the issue of royalty for singers. While Rafi didn't want royalty, Lata insisted on it. It's a matter of record that an angry Mangeshkar had parted ways with Rafi, deciding never to sing with him.
Rafi's son Shahid has threatened to sue her for her unverifiable comment, which brings up the question of why she chose to make it an issue now — especially given that her position on royalty has recently been vindicated after a sustained campaign led by the writer Javed Akhtar and others. The point that a creative work of art continues to belong to the artist as much as it belongs to the producer who finances it, and, as such, the royalty must also go to the artist, has now been well taken. The stand Mangeshkar took in the 1960s was at least 50 years ahead of time. But those were the romantic days, when the creative fields were suffused with a certain idealism. Rafi perhaps belonged to the old school that viewed art as art alone, and was content with earning only what it took for basic livelihood requirements, rather than pursuing music as a wealth-generating profession. In those times, Mangeshkar's stand must have startled many, since the idea of creating art for money wasn't in tune with the norms of the time. In hindsight, however, both stands look perfectly acceptable, just a matter of different perspectives. So why does the dispute have any valence so many decades on?
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