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An audience with Bollywood legend Asha Bhosle

Asha Bhosle in UK for Farewell Tour
Asha Bhosle in UK for Farewell Tour

Asha Bhosle is a Bollywood institution in her own right. With a career spanning over 70 years, Bhosle has been a playback singer of legends. She has sung thousands of songs and been the voice to many Bollywood actresses, old and new with a voice that pierces through the human soul. She has sung in several languages and all over the world, gaining an international audience that is entranced by her fantastic voice. As Asha Bhosle prepares for her Farewell Tour of Britain, BizAsia attended her press conference in London to find out why Bhosle is not returning to the UK and what she sees as the future of music for years to come.

How are you finding it being back in London?

Asha Bhosle: ���I have always liked being in London, I haven�۪t come here for a number of years but it feels good to be back.�۝

This is your last UK tour, will this UK audience be able to hear you sing in India?

Asha Bhosle: ���I haven�۪t come to London since a number of years and as far as I know, Birmingham, Wembley and London will be my last shows. The world is very big and even if I sing in India, I can�۪t live without singing. It could happen that this is my last London tour as far as I know. I have come after many years and I have turned 83 so if you call me after 4 or 5 years, I don�۪t know if I will be able to sing. I think this is my last show.�۝

Music is a journey, a journey of memory emotions and feelings. Will we be experiencing your journey through music this weekend?

Asha Bhosle: ���I have been singing since 1943 and I will try as much as I can in the time given, to sing all types of my songs. No one should feel that I haven�۪t sung a song of his or her choice. I will try and make as many people feel happy that yes, they heard Asha sing. I heard her for the last time but I heard her sing.�۝

Asha Bhosle in UK for Farewell Tour
Asha Bhosle in UK for Farewell Tour

There are a lot of remixes being made of old songs, especially yours by other playback singers. How do you feel hearing these versions of your songs?

Asha Bhosle: ���At first, I used to find it strange but later I realised that we have left treasures as our songs for a new audience. There is no one who, when they start singing, doesn�۪t start with old songs. Just look at ��Sa Re Ga Ma Pa�۪, all these shows have people singing old songs. There�۪s me, (Mohammed)Rafi Saab, Kishore (Kumar) Da and Lata (Mangeshkar) Didi, they sing all our songs. So for coming generations, we have left treasures behind for them so that in whatever style they wish to sing, they can. There is no style of song that I have not sung and there is no language that I have not sung in. So I feel good when I see these shows that after singing two of their own songs, they sing eight of our songs. I feel good that they have been put on a good path.�۝

You have thousands of songs. Which are the three songs which are your favourite?

Asha Bhosle: ���I have sung almost 13,000 songs. In this day and age, I don�۪t think anyone would be able to sing as many songs. I don�۪t know, God had given me this strength to sing night and day. It has for me to choose my favourites from these songs. It would be a tragedy for me to choose a favourite above the others. It is very hard for me.�۝

When you sing songs in the studio, do you know at the time that this song is going to become famous?

Asha Bhosle: ���No one can say which song will do well or won�۪t do well. Today people send crores rupees when they make a film for a year and in two days, the film stops playing in the cinemas and there are films where no one spent barely anything and that film has become successful. What the public will like or what they won�۪t like, it is very difficult to predict. Our job is to see what song we are given, determine who is singing it and what they look like. So with my song Dil Cheez, Rekha came in front of me and using her face and situation, I absorbed all these details and became Umrao Jaan and put Umrao Jaan�۪s feelings into that song. When we were given songs, we used to think about all these factors and the language and after taking it all in, we improvised them in our own way. This is why those songs sung so long ago are still in our hearts to this day. If we had put on headphones and sung a couple of lines at a time, they would not be remembered to this day. We put our hearts into the songs. To this day, when we sing those songs, we can still remember what day and where we sung those songs.�۝

Apart from singing, can you tell us about your passion for cooking?

Asha Bhosle: ���If there is food then I can sing. No one can sing on an empty stomach. I have enjoyed cooking since my childhood and I have restaurants in the UK and in the Gulf called Asha�۪s. In these, whatever I used to feed to my children as kids, I serve these in my restaurants. In fact Dabbu, Raj Kapoor�۪s son, had once told me to leave singing and start cooking instead.�۝

How do you feel about Pakistani singers?

Asha Bhosle: ���They sing very well. I don�۪t notice nationalities when I sing. I have sung with Badi Apa, by that I mean Noor Jahan ji and I used to know her very well. We are singers, artists. We care about the art, not the country. I love Atif Aslam and the way he sings. Whenever we have Pakistani singers come to India, we show them respect and love

and we don�۪t feel they are from somewhere else. We feel they are all our own.�۝

Asha Bhosle in UK for Farewell Tour
Asha Bhosle in UK for Farewell Tour

There are a lot of changes in the way music is made these days. How do you feel about it?

Asha Bhosle: ���There is a lot of change, in the songs and in the machine. Before there was one track machine, then two, then six and when it was a six track, we were celebrating that there was a six track machine. Now everything is on computers. I think in those days when there was a two track machine, the feeling that was there and the hard work that went into it, you had to sing a complete song in one track. You couldn�۪t sing it in pieces. Now, with songs, the background music is made before the song is written. If you want to change the song, you can�۪t. You have to sing in that rhythm and style given by the pre-recorded music. You sing one line then have a cup of tea and the mood of the song is gone. Singing has a mood and when you have the mood, you feel the song at the climax. We use to cry singing songs or laugh during it. This doesn�۪t exist anymore. The songs these days are created by machines, when someone can�۪t sing, they make them sound like they can sing. We didn�۪t have all this. That�۪s why those days were better and now it�۪s a computerised world. You don�۪t have enough life in the songs of today. They don�۪t last for three days whereas our songs have last for over 50 years. It means those songs that were made by good people, written by good people and sung with so much heart, that�۪s why our songs have lasted. The songs of today are heard at weddings and danced to at mendhis, people dance to the rhythm, no one listens to the words. I do think that music is changing. I do think the cycle will change and we will go back to good songs.�۝

Do you have a message for your UK fans?

Asha Bhosle: ���I just want to say thank you for loving me for so many years and appreciating what I do. I am still recording songs and non- film made songs, I will like it if you keep listening to them.�۝

In your opinion, are there any singers of today who have a promising future?

Asha Bhosle: ���I really like Rahat Fateh Ali Khan. He sings very well. There were many greats that I listened to like Rafi Saab, Kishore and Lata Didi, I grew up listening to them and learnt a lot from them. There are a lot of singers coming out these days but disappear after a short time. People really like Rahat Ji�۪s songs and I think there is something special about his songs like his uncle�۪s songs used to have. Atif Aslam sings very well too.�۝