An evergreen smile with an evergreen voice, the eternal songstress Asha Bhosle was in Bengaluru to perform at the Phoenix Marketcity. Namita Gupta of RITZ Magazine caught up with the singing legend over a candid interview.
- You have sung in many South Indian and other regional languages besides of course Hindi. How was the experience singing in Kannada, Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam?
I’ve sung many songs of Illayaraja, AR Rahman and Jaidev. My first song was Enga Ooru Pattukaran and Shembagame in Tamil was a huge hit. I’ve also song a few songs in Kannada, Telugu and Malayalam and all these languages are tough, but since we have a Sanskrit base we can sing. Whenever we sing outside of your own mother tongue and that song does well and is appreciated by others it feels wonderful. When Shembagame did well, all the Tamilians in Singapore loved my work and I received a lot of compliments.
- What took you so long to come to Bengaluru for a performance?
I’m going to be 85 years old in September this year. I want to ask the people of Bengaluru why they took so long to invite me to perform here? Were they waiting for me to turn 100?
- But you don’t look 85, what’s the secret of looking young and healthy even at this age?
I think it has to do something with music. It’s the music in me that keeps me young and healthy. I would also give credit to my kids (she says pointing to her son Anand Bhosle). I keep myself occupied with some or the other work whenever I’m at home. I never sit idle. I also like to cook good food for my family. I’ve always worked all my life. I’ve completed 75 years of my singing career. I started singing at the age of 10. I’ve sung over 14,000 songs and I never had a spare moment to even look at myself in the mirror. There were so many times when we even forgot to eat food and would survive on tea. We would record seven songs in a day, many times recording all through the night and completing our recording at 7 am.
- Can you recall that incident when a music director came to your house and asked for Ashaji?
Khayyam came to our place when I used to live in Borivali and was doing some household chores and I opened the door and he asked me to call Ashaji. I told him to tell me and he said I don’t talk to servants so I went in washed my face, got ready and came back and he was shocked to see that it was the same lady. We are all very proud of his work. You don’t see that kind of talent these days.
- Is there a change in the music of today from what it was many years back and how?
There’s change in how the songs were written then. Even today we can sing those songs. Those lyrics were unforgettable. We used to remember those voices also. We used to sit together alongwith the stars and directors and it used to be a team work. Nowadays it happens independently and computers have a big role to play too. Also there are English words in Hindi songs and most of them are targetted towards dance music. But you can’t really sing these songs and they won’t last for long.
- Any message for youngsters?
If you want to learn music, you need to have a classical base, take care of your voice and have self-confidence and a strong will power to learn music, only then can you achieve your dream. I tell everyone and even myself today that if you sing the song you have at hand only then will you get more songs to sing, so put in your best in everything you do.
- You have won National Awards and so many other awards, but is there any one thing that you still want to achieve?
I’m not really crazy about awards, but the fact that they are a recognition of your talent. I would like to remembered more as a beautiful human being than as a beautiful singer.
- You like to cook good food you mentioned. What are your favourites?
I like to make prawn curry and a lot of good vegetarian dishes also. I specialise in North-West frontier-inspired cuisine blend classic preparations, contemporary influences and artisanal accents. You should ask my sons who have become healthy after eating my food and now have to go on a diet. Whatever I cook I do it with lots of love. Even a dish like Karela will become sweet if cooked with love. My son has launched so many restaurants all across the world (Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Kuwait and Qatar in the Gulf, and Birmingham and Manchester in the UK) in my name called Asha’s inspired by my cooking.
- A lot of people feel relaxed listening to your songs. How do you destress and relax?
I also get angry since I’m also a human being, but music has so much power that it can take you away from all the worldly sorrows. Whenever I do my riyaaz, it gets me rid of all my sorrows.
- What do you eat to keep your voice melodious?
I eat lime and chilli pickle. I also eat a lot of masalas and spice, but I refrain from curd, ice cream, anything sour and basically anything cold from the fridge.
- Any memories from your earlier visits to Bengaluru?
I came to Bangalore with my mother many years back. She was a big devotee of Sathya Sai Baba so I had come to Bangalore to visit Puttaparthi. She loved that visit and it was a great experience for us.