It is always the case- after I have written anything – be it a book or an article, something new is bound to turn up to show what a little more research could have revealed. But as N Ram of The Hindu once told me, the advantage with an article over a book is that you can always revisit it.

Asha Bhonsle, M Balamuralikrishna & Lata Mangeshkar in front of Dinanath Mangeshkar’s portrait – pic courtesy Prince Rama Varma.

Such is the case with my last week’s story concerning Lata Mangeshkar and the Carnatic music greats. Prince Rama Varma sends me a letter from Lata addressed to M Balamuralikrishna. The words reveal the deep admiration that she had for the maestro. Dated Nov 14, 1969 and addressed from Prabhu Kunj, Peddar Road, the letter says Lata had heard his records two or three years earlier. “I have never met you nor have I ever had the opportunity to hear you personally but when I heard your record, I experienced deep joy and felt extremely happy.

I must admit that God has not only bestowed upon you a voice but has also gifted you with a rare knack and art to sing in different forms. This I feel is God’s blessing.

When I heard you sing, I also felt as if I had been listening to good music after a long period. I pray that God may give you a long life and continued strength to sing.”

The letter concludes with a request to Balamuralikrishna that he should inform Lata in case he was in Bombay next.

Prince Rama Varma also sent me the accompanying picture which shows Lata and Asha Bhonsle with Balamuralikrishna (ah that smile), posing in front on Dinanath Mangeshkar’s portrait. I am not sure of what the occasion was.

This valuable input merely buttresses the fact that Lata’s was an open mind that was willing to recognise and reach out to genius when she saw it. As AK Chettiar would have written -வாழ்க நீ எம்மான்!

I thank Prince Rama Varma for sharing this absolute treasure.

My book on Chennai is out and can be purchased from Amazon, leading book shops and also from this link