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Lata's Savarkar connect: From being youngest member of his inter-caste dinners to voicing his songs

Mangeshkar went on to lend her voice to some of the Marathi songs written by Savarkar
Last Updated : 09 February 2022, 07:50 IST
Last Updated : 09 February 2022, 07:50 IST

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From being the youngest member of Vinayak Damodar Savarkar’s inter-caste dinner squads to giving voice to his poems, singing icon Lata Mangeshkar was closely associated with the controversial Hindu nationalist and freedom fighter.

Journalist Vaibhav Purandare, the author of ‘Savarkar: The True Story of Father of Hindutva’, writes in his book that Savarkar settled in Ratnagiri after his release from the Andaman jail.

He then started a campaign to include children from lower-caste families in local schools.

Lata, who died on Sunday morning at the age of 92, attended one of these inter-caste dinners with her father, singer and stage artist Dinanath Mangeshkar when she was just five.

“One enthusiastic participant at these dinners was the singer and stage artiste Dinanath Mangeshkar. The impresario had recently developed a friendship with Savarkar, and he visited the internee (Savarkar was not allowed to leave Ratnagiri) off and on with his family in tow,” the author writes in his book.

Savarkar, in particular, looked forward to the scrumptious vegetarian pulao that Dinanath’s wife, Shevanti, better known as ‘Mai’, brought for him, Purandare adds.

“On one such visit, Dinanath decided to take his five-year-old daughter Lata along for one of Savarkar’s inter-caste dinners,” he adds.

Purandare writes, Mai was reluctant to send the girl along.

In an interview with the author in 2018, Lata said that her mother was concerned about sending the little child to dinner.

"First, those dinners were mostly male affairs. Second, children who had barely started school hardly were ever made a part of the proceedings; and third, partaking of the food there was likely to make anyone unpopular, as most Hindus were still firmly in the grip of orthodoxy. ‘Baba would not hear of it’.”

“He told my mother, ‘She needs to know right now what Savarkar is doing and why it’s so necessary,” Lata had said, recollecting how she ended up becoming perhaps the youngest member of the Savarkar’s squad at the time.

Later, Lata went on to lend her voice to some of the Marathi songs written by Savarkar.

'Jayostute jayostute, shree mahanmanglee’, Nee mazasi ne, parart mathribhoomila, sagara pran talmalala,’. Two songs are on Marartha warrior king Shivaji — ‘Jai Dev Shivraya’ and ‘He Hindu Nrasinha Prabho Shivaji Raja’.

The songs were composed by Lata’s younger brother Hridaynath.

A polarising figure in modern Indian history, Savarkar, the author of the controversial book ‘Hindutva’, is equally revered and despised. Born in Nashik, Savarkar was arrested by the British for his revolutionary activities and sentenced to life in prison. He was later released.

In an old interview with DD Sahyadri, the regional channel of Doordarshan, Lata said Savarkar, fondly known as 'Tatya', was like a family member.

"When my father was to go to a Harijan locality, I too wanted to go with him. Mother advised me not to go," Lata had said. "Baba said an inter-caste gathering over food has been organised by Tatya in the Harijan locality. At that time, it was a big thing to have inter-caste gatherings over food. So this is how I was introduced to Tatya."

In the interview, Lata said the Pune University started a chair in Savarkar's name and it was decided to do a programme in his honour.

Lata said she also invited Savarkar to the event but he could not attend it due to health reasons.

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Published 06 February 2022, 16:50 IST

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