by ASJAD NAZIR
Legendary singer Asha Bhosle has been entertaining audiences around the world for over 70 years and in the first week of March, she will deliver what will likely be her final live shows in the UK.
If the two concerts in Birmingham and London are the last ones she performs in England, then Bollywood’s greatest ever singer will have left memories that will last forever.
To mark the remarkable career of the singer and the hotly-anticipated shows, Eastern Eye found sentiments delivered by Asha Bhosle over the years to find out more about the legend in her own words.
- I started singing at the age of 10. My father was a singer and so are my siblings. So my entire journey – professional and personal – revolves around music.
- My first musical influence came from my father. His theatre music, where he merged different styles to form his own unique signature, was my initial foray into arts.
- As a child, I heard Bing Crosby, Carmen Miranda and Gene Kelly. Later, Bill Haley and Elvis Presley influenced me when I sang rock ‘n’ roll songs like Ina Mina Dika. Ghazal music influenced me too.
- I always enjoyed watching a city wake up. Mumbai is a late riser, but the energy in this city is commendable. I got paid Rs 100 for my first song. My husband and I celebrated with roadside batata vada (potato vada). Mumbai is the city of dreams. Some dreams come true.
- After my marriage ended I saw a lot of poverty. I raised three children all by myself. I would get up early, do household chores and leave home by 7am for work. There was a phase when I was recording about seven songs in a day. But I never complained. I knew I had to slog for my children.
- When there was already a Taj Mahal, I came to build another one. It was tough. Who would want to go to another singer when there was already a Lata Mangeshkar. On top of that, I was her younger sister. We were always compared, so it was very tough for me to escape all these hurdles. I still haven’t escaped those comparisons.
- (Lata) Didi and I had to be different singers. Copying her would have meant the end of my career even before it started. No one would have entertained a copy of Didi.
- I had to cultivate a Western style of singing. I had no choice. I had to be prepared to do any kind of song that was offered to me.
- People would criticise me a lot for experimenting. They would say I am just a passing phase, but I didn’t say anything. Time gave them the answer.
- We used to work so hard and therefore, we could churn out so many songs. There was no time for doing shows in our time as we used to be so busy.
- I was the first to rap. What else would you say were songs like Mera Naam Hain Shabnam or Hungama? Today’s English raps, which employ foul language, are not favourable.
- Work is work. I had to sing day and night. I worked day and night. I used to work from 7am till 3am. That’s why there are 13,000 songs in my list. When the Guinness World Records recognised me as the world’s most recorded artist: I just thought it was my life’s work.
- When I sang, I gave my 100 per cent to each song. They are like my children. Some became famous, while others disappeared into obscurity, but I love them all and if I show favouritism to a few, then the others will get upset.
- Kishore [Kumar] da, [Mohd] Rafi sir and Mukesh have rare voices that aren’t found now-a-days. God seems to have forgotten to gift such voices. He forgot to create quality.
- Kishore Kumar was one of a kind. He swayed everyone with his mellifluous voice and even made everyone around him happy. He has been a true gem to the music industry. I enjoyed working with him. It is really impossible for anyone to take his place today.
- The beauty of Rafi sahab is that right from the door of the studios, he would start wishing everyone, ‘aadab’. He would not fight with anyone. If anyone said something to him, he would stay quiet and would not answer. I would get irritated and ask him why he would not answer back. He would then tell me to let it go, there was no point in replying. He was god’s man.
- My first hero was Frank Sinatra. I knew all the songs, My Way and New York, New York. Also, I loved Dean Martin, and Sammy Davis Jr. And after that I liked Barbra Streisand, and then the singer who sang in the Goldfinger movie, Shirley Bassey.
- I have always been brutally honest about my life and perhaps that’s why the youth has stood by me.
- Like music, food is a passion for me. When I cook, I feel happy, as though I’m creating a masterpiece and when my food is appreciated, it gives me a tremendous high. I feel well and accomplished. Someone pointed out to me that quite a few musicians are good chefs as well. Perhaps, music and food go hand-in-hand? Cooking is about experimenting. Adding ingredients and getting it right. It’s similar to music, where we strive to hit the right notes and chords and once we succeed, it feels wonderful.
- I do get offers to sing songs, but they’re usually not to my liking. If I do not like the lyrics of a song, I refuse to sing it. If I sing worthless songs today, people will point fingers at me and say ‘what’s wrong with her? Why is she singing such songs at this age?
- The secret and passion is that I sing every song like it’s my first.
- I don’t think about the awards or any of that when I sing a song. I take singing as a job. I enjoy it and I’m passionate about it, but still, it’s my job and that’s how I treat it.
- I have been through a lot of hardships in life. But what has kept me alive is my music. The biggest gift any singer can receive is the appreciation and applause from his or her audience. When an artist records, he or she does not think about money or fame; it’s only music that matters at that moment. I have always been grateful and loyal to my art. And that’s the only thing that has kept me alive.
- It has not been a cakewalk. I have reached this point in my life with so many difficulties, both at home and outside, that it almost beggars belief. I’ve suffered a great deal of pain and anguish in the six decades that I have been in the film industry, but somehow I managed to take it all in my stride.
- I always keep laughing and I walk with humility. That’s the best way to be.
- You can’t stop the world from moving on. If you try, you’ll get left behind.
- You know a human heart is never satisfied. Be it fame, awards or the love of people; I’ve been fortunate enough to have experienced everything, but these are not what I crave for. I don’t run after money or fame. The only thing I have wished is to be a classical singer. I have learned the basics of classical singing, but I have never done a classical concert. So, I want to tell god that please make me a classical singer in my next life so that I can give something more to the people in terms of different songs and melodies.
- We all have to get familiar with the use of technology in everything – whether it is music or film. But we must not forget that nothing can replace real talent. Call me old-fashioned, but I believe that technology cannot add soul to our voice. Therefore, the longevity of those (modern day) songs is lesser.
- I think the current generation needs to be aware and educated about the glorious musical history of Indian film music.
- I always wanted to do new things. If you don’t try out new things then you will be left behind.
- I’m like a shark. I can’t keep still. Some call me a workaholic. I enjoy keeping busy, and fortunately for me, there’s a large audience out there who are keen to hear me sing. It’s their love and affection that keep me going.
- I love doing only live shows now-a-days. You get the receipt of appreciation, then and there.
Asha Bhosle will be in concert with a full live band at Resorts World Arena in Birmingham on March 2 and SSE Arena, Wembley in London on March 3. Visit www.resortsworldarena.co.uk and www.ssearena.co.uk for more.