Legendary musician Lata Mangeshkar was Raj Kapoor’s muse when he decided to make 1978 film Satyam Shivam Sundaram. But Lata wasn’t flattered due to a few reasons that were later revealed by Raj’s daughter Ritu Nanda in her 2002 book Raj Kapoor Speaks.
In the book, Ritu revealed the story that Raj Kapoor came up with in which a man falls in love with a woman based on her talent alone as she did not possess much beauty. She quoted Raj Kappor, "I visualised the story of a man falling for a woman with an ordinary countenance but a golden voice and wanted to cast Lata Mangeshkar in the role.”
Raj wanted Lata to play the role as she was the main inspiration behind the story. She initially accepted the offer but later walked away from it and record shows that Lata Mangeshkhar was quite offended.
Journalist Vir Sanghv explored more about this incident in his autobiography, in which he penned down the details of his meeting with the late filmmaker and documented what Raj Kapoor said about the nightingale of India, with whom he shared a “history.”
Vir recalled Raj talking about this film in philosophical terms and said, "Take a stone. It is just a stone. But put some religious markings on it and it becomes God. It is how you see things that matters. You hear a beautiful voice. But only later do you discover that it comes from an ugly girl..."
The filmmaker paused and told the writers to “ake out the thing about ugly girl. Lata will get upset."
The journalist further gave the context for Raj’s remark and wrote, "I knew what it was he was talking about. In the early publicity for Satyam Shivam Sundaram, he had declared that he had been inspired to make the movie by the contrast between Mangeshkar's face and voice. She had (understandably) flown into a rage and refused to sing playback for the movie."