When doctor told Lata Mangeshkar that she was being poisoned slowly

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With a string of hits under her belt, legendary singer Lata Mangeshkar had already cemented her position as one of the most popular playback singers in Hindi cinema, but the year 1962 brought with it serious health worries for the singer and the shocking news of her being “slowly poisoned”—possibly by her servant.

Bharat Ratna Mangeshkar, 92, died on Sunday in Mumbai’s Breach Candy hospital, her death drawing curtains to a glorious eight-decade long career.

Recalling the incident of poisoning in her 60s to Nasreen Munni Kabir in the book “Lata Mangeshkar in Her Own Voice”, the music icon said she was bedridden for three months.

“In 1962, I fell very ill for about three months. One day, I woke up feeling very uneasy in my stomach. And then I started throwing up — it was terrible, the vomit was a greenish colour. The doctor came and even brought an x-ray machine home because I could not move. He x-rayed my stomach and said I was being slowly poisoned,” Mangeshkar said in the book.

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Mangeshakar, in a free-wheeling conversation with the London-based author Nasreen Munni Kabir, had recalled how she felt so weak that she thought she would never be able to sing again.

After hearing the shocking news of her being slowly poisoned, her sister Usha went straight into the kitchen and told everyone that from that moment on, she would do the cooking instead of the servant.

Soon, the servant sneaked off without telling anyone and “without collecting any pay”, claimed the veteran singer.

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“So we thought someone had planted him there. We didn’t know who it was. I was bed-ridden for three months and was so weak,” she said, adding that they never got to know about the person behind it.

Recalling those difficult times, Mangeshkar in the book published by Niyogi Books, shared how noted lyricist Majrooh Sultanpuri kept her company during those three months.

The first song that Mangeshkar sang after her recovery was “Kahin Deep Jale Kahin Dil” from Bees Saal Baad, composed by Hemant Kumar. A smashing hit of the year, it won the singer her second Filmfare Award for playback singing.