When Lata Mangeshkar came to BCCI’s rescue

Posted on June 25, 2013


Kapil Dev lifts the Prudential 1983 World Cup at Lord's in London.

Kapil Dev lifts the Prudential 1983 World Cup at Lord’s in London.

Just as MS Dhoni laid his hands on the gleaming World Cup and confetti filled the air at the Wankhede Stadium in 2011, the BCCI was quick to announce a handsome reward of Rs.1 crore each to the 15 players in the team. The reward was later doubled to Rs.2 crore per player amidst speculations of unhappiness with the initial amount. It is an era where the cricket body has its coffers filled, tapping into all possible revenue pockets to monetise the game. It stands as the richest sporting body in the world today.

Cut back to 30 years, the motley crew led by Kapil Dev had overcome odds of 60 to 1 to give Indian cricket a new identity. A dream run culminated with the underdogs bringing home the 1983 World Cup from the cradle of cricket – Lord’s. But there were no similar announcements, no bonus rewards. The prize money of £ 20,000 was the sole remuneration they got.

The BCCI strapped for funds, approached Lata Mangeshkar to hold a concert for the benefit of the players. “Raj bhai (Raj Singh Dungarpur) was feeling bad that the players did not get a reward,” said team member Balwinder Singh Sandhu. “He contacted the then Board president NKP Salve who in turn requested Lataji. It was very kind of her to have offered to sing for us without charging a fee,” he reminisced.

To commemorate the victory, Hridaynath Mangeshkar, the younger brother of the Mangeshkar sisters, had composed a song for the event at the Indraprastha Stadium in Delhi. “The song was called titled Bharat Vishwa Vijeta. It was a special feeling to have a song composed to honour our achievement,” beamed Sandhu.

The highlight of the concert, however, was the entire team forming the chorus to back the voice of Mangeshkar. “Our voices were contrasting to that of Lataji. Some of our voices were not exactly in sync. Since we were in chorus, the bad voices settled well,” chuckled Sandhu.

In an interview celebrating the silver jubilee of the win, Mangeshkar recollected that day. “The duration of the concert was four hours. I remember all the members of the team having sung a song with me specially composed by my brother Hridaynath. Sunil Gavaskar and Kapil Dev were standing beside me,” she was quoted. Mangeshkar, a Bharat Ratna awardee, was a big fan of the Indian team and had also invited the team to dinner the night before the final and also watched the game in London.

“I watched the final at the Lords. I could not believe that we have won the world cup defeating the two times champion West Indies. Naturally, being an Indian I felt very proud of the achievement.”

The concert had raised around Rs.20 lakhs and the 14 players got a lakh each. The board in 2003, headed by Jagmohan Dalmiya, did its bit to repay the favour: by organising an exhibition match to raise funds for Mangeshkar’s Pune hospital.

The members of the '83 Indian team.

The members of the ’83 Indian team.