Unraveling the Discord with Lata Mangeshkar

Mohd Rafi LataIntroduction

In the golden era of Bollywood music, the iconic duo of Mohammad Rafi and Lata Mangeshkar reigned supreme, captivating audiences with their soulful duets. However, a profound rift emerged between these musical legends, largely fueled by a disagreement over royalty issues. In this article, we delve into the historical context, exploring the origin of their discord and the subsequent events that led to a six-year hiatus in their duet performances.

The Royalty Dispute

During the 1960s, the demand for exceptional duets was at its peak, and composers and filmmakers sought the magic that Rafi and Lata created together. However, in 1962-63, a pivotal moment unfolded when Lata Mangeshkar advocated for singers to receive a 50% share in the royalties earned by music directors. As the most celebrated female singer, Lata expected the support of Mohammad Rafi, the leading male counterpart in their duets.

Rafi, however, opposed this stance, contending that singers received fair compensation for their services through fees. He argued that exerting pressure on film producers for an additional share in royalties was unjust, as producers assumed the financial risk, and composers were responsible for creating the songs. Lata, on the other hand, justified her demand by asserting that the sale of records was significantly influenced by the singers’ names, thus warranting a share in the royalties.

The Turning Point in 1961

The seeds of discord between Rafi and Lata were sown in 1961 when they were invited to sing the duet Tasveer Teri Dil Mein for the film Maya. This song, based on a Bengali composition recorded by Lata a year earlier, became a point of contention. Before the recording, Lata suggested some changes related to notes and scale, but the eminent music director Salil Chowdhary insisted on maintaining the original composition.

This disagreement created an uncomfortable atmosphere, leading to minor altercations during the recording. Rafi, known for his soft voice, found himself in a challenging situation, while Lata’s imbalanced singing further intensified the tensions. Though the disputes were temporarily resolved by music director Jaikishen, the underlying issues resurfaced later, manifesting as the royalty dispute.

The Six-Year Hiatus

The discord reached its peak, leading Lata Mangeshkar to take a vow of not singing with Mohammad Rafi again. Rafi, in response, expressed his disinterest in collaborating with someone not willing to work with him. This solemn vow marked a six-year hiatus in their legendary duets.

Reconciliation and Resumption

The cold war between the two musical giants came to an end when music director Jaikishen intervened to bring about reconciliation. In 1969, after six long years, Rafi and Lata reunited to record their first duet for the film Palkon Ke Chhaaon Mein, putting an end to one of the most significant rifts in the history of Bollywood music.


The root cause of the discord between Mohammad Rafi and Lata Mangeshkar can be traced back to a complex interplay of artistic differences and disagreements over royalty issues. Despite the challenges, their reunion after six years remains a testament to the enduring power of music to heal wounds and bridge divides in the world of melodies.

In the next article, A Tale of Determined Melody, we will throw light on Rafi Sahab’s early life before rising to become the lead Male Singer in Hindi film industry.

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