Mumbai, March 27: The voice that has mesmerised India for years rang out loud in an unfamiliar tone today.
Lata Mangeshkar came out openly against a proposal to build a flyover that would snake by her home as well as reports that suggested that she threatened to leave Mumbai if the government pressed ahead with the project.
“Whether I live in Mumbai or not is nobody’s business and it will certainly have nothing to do with whether or not the flyover is built here or not. I am being targeted as though I have committed a crime,” Mangeshkar told PTI, referring to critical comments by some celebrities on television.
Asked whether she was opposed to the construction of the flyover on the upscale Peddar Road, where she has been living in a first-floor flat for 45 years, Mangeshkar said: “It is not just me, but every single resident of Peddar Road who is scared. This is a very narrow road and it is proven that it is seismological zone. If there is drilling on the road, the foundations of many buildings will be shaken.”
She denied reports that she had written a letter to public works minister Anil Deshmukh or that she had threatened to quit Mumbai if the flyover was built.
“What I fail to understand is why everyone is associating only me with the issue. It is not about me or Asha (her sister living in the same building) only. And why should it concern anyone where I choose to live' I will stay on in Mumbai till I feel like. But there is no reason to ask me about the protest. We have a Peddar Road Residents’ Association and they will speak about it,” she said.
The state government has sat up and initiated a damage-control drive, though it insisted that the flyover would be in place as planned. The public works minister will probably meet her tomorrow.
“I have heard that she has written a letter. Lataji is the pride of India, a jewel. I will try to meet her and discuss with her our plans in detail,” Deshmukh said. “We are also ready to take her suggestions.”
The flyover, he added, would be crucial, as Peddar Road has to bear the burden of 90 per cent of the city’s traffic to south Mumbai.
The controversy has sharply divided the city’s best-heeled, a major chunk of whom lives on Peddar Road or nearby. Film director Shyam Benegal, youth icon Cyrus Broacha, actress and ad person Dolly Thakore, fashion writer Meher Castellino, former ABCL chairman Gautam Berry and actress Kittu Gidwani are among Peddar Road’s star residents.
“The flyover will be built as a single stretch of 3 km from Haji Ali (a famous dargah in Worli) to Wilson College (near Chowpatty),” Deshmukh said. “It will decongest the major traffic hurdles in south Mumbai.”
Five years ago, when talk of a flyover first came up, Mangeshkar and her younger sister Asha Bhosle ' the other living legend of popular music ' met the chief minister to inform him of their disapproval.
They told the chief minister that if the flyover was built, they would be able to shake hands with motorists.