To put it mildly, the two singing divas have never been seen as one. Asha Bhosle has always been the rebel of the Mangeshkar family. From the time when she paid no heed to her Didi’s advice and left home to marry Ashaji has been doing her own thing away from the family.
But there was a time when the two sisters united as one force to fight against a common enemy.
The year was 1998 when Sai Paranpye, in all her wisdom, decided to make Saaz a film about two singing sisters, played by Aruna Irani and Shabana Azmi, and their ongoing rivalry. Anyone with any knowledge of Hindi cinema and film music would know Saaz was nothing but a distorted version Lataji and Ashaji’s lives.
To add insult to injury, it was a plainly awful film that completely missed the point of why Ashaji needed to break away to succeed.
Saaz would have come and gone, were it not for Ashaji’s firebrand daughter Varsha (who later died under tragic circumstances) who decided to take Sai to the cleaners.
“How dare they make a film about my mother and aunt and make them look like two warring women at each other’s throats? We are one family. I grew up in my Aunt’s lap. My Aunt is divided by just one door between our homes. We’re constantly in and out of each other’s homes. The rivalry is not visible at home. It never was,” Varsha told me angrily and declared the family would sue Sai.
Of course, like most legal threats in the entertainment business the matter never went to court.
Speaking on the experience Shabana Azmi who played a character similar to Asha Bhosle said to me, “It was never meant to be a film about the two Mangeshkar sisters. We only borrowed the basic idea of two brilliant singers from one family and made our story.”
Interestingly Tabla maestro Zakir Hussain played a character akin to Rahul Dev Burman who falls in love with Shabana. They got along like a house on fire. The film should have been about these two characters only.
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