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She is 80 years young. And of these 80 years, she has dedicated 70 to the Indian film industry. So when she says, “I hope to sing even 10 years later, when I am 90,” you can’t help but cheer her spirit and chutzpah. Indeed, Asha Bhosle, whose dulcet voice has mesmerised generations of music lovers, has a childlike quality and impish charm along with a fantastic sense of humour that make her seem decades younger than what she is.
It’s perhaps futile to attempt to describe what Asha means to Hindi cinema or encapsulate her phenomenal achievements in a few hundred words. It’s just enough to say that the best way to know her is to just experience her voice.
Fortunately, Dubai’s music lovers can do just that on December 13 when Asha comes to the city for a unique concert titled ‘I Am Asha’ – an evening where she will not only enthrall her legions of fans with her songs but also give a glimpse of her remarkable life though an unplugged, musical conversation. In the company of the articulate and affable Farooq Shaikh, Asha will celebrate her 70th year in showbiz doing what she does best – engage with her fans musically. Masala! was lucky enough to get a sneak peak of what’s in store when we met the legend last week at Asha’s, her eponymous restaurant, where she announced the event. During the interaction, Asha was requested to hum a few lines from any of her favourite songs. After some thought, she gave an impromptu rendition of one of her best numbers, Do Lafzon Ki Hai… from the Amitabh Bachchan-Zeenat Aman starrer The Great Gambler. And we were mesmerised – at 80, the clarity, depth and sheer sex appeal in her voice was something that even a 20-something would have found difficult to match. Asha is the true rockstar. And we can’t wait to see her on stage this month…
I Am Asha is touted to be a live musical conversation where you will share vignettes of your life. Will you be letting us in on your professional side only or also your personal life?
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. ‘I Am Asha’ will be about my career and the people who I have met on this long trip. There will be dialogues and the songs would be woven within. It’s not a typical star show where you come, listen to a few songs, dance and then leave. I want to offer something that will touch audience’s hearts and make them think. I will try my best to ensure they enjoy it (smiles). I am looking forward to it but I am also very nervous!
What is the most challenging aspect of being on stage for such a concert?
The challenge is to condense all my experiences into two or three hours. Choosing what songs to present is also quite difficult. (For the record, Asha has lent her voice to over 12,000 songs. So yes, we can imagine what a challenge it would be to select a few of them!)
Will the musical dialogues be entirely autobiographical?
To a certain extent, it will draw some aspects of my personal life too. After all, it’s about my journey with the people who have shaped me. For instance, I would like to present a new side to Kishore Kumar. Most people would remember him as a jolly person who liked nothing more than a light-hearted banter. But there was much more to the man, he had a grim side to him as well. Similarly, my sister Lata (Mangeshkar) loves looking at the lighter shades of things though she has a very serious image. She could come up with a joke at the most unusual moments (smiles).
Do you meet with Lataji often? Do you ever cook for her considering you are so passionate about food?Earlier I used to meet her quite often and prepare dishes that she liked. We stay close by so I do try and catch up with her as often as possible. Latadidi likes non-vegetarian food. Not many people are aware but didi avoids non-veg only on Mondays. And since we are on the subject of food, I want to know…do people in Dubai like the food at Asha’s? Music toh thik hai, I am more curious to know if people appreciate my food! (We assure her that her menu is quite popular among food lovers in the city). Great, now I am relieved! It means my songs and my food, both have some takers (laughs).
A look at your repertoire shows that the more complex a song is, the more you seem to enjoy rendering it. Has that always been your approach to music?
Yes, I enjoy songs that test my limits. Asaan kaam to sabhi kar sakte hai (anybody can do work that is easy). It’s the challenges in life that make it worth living. And my life has been full of challenges in various forms.
People always marvel at your energy and passion. What keeps you going?
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 artiste records, he or she does not think about money or fame; it’s only the music that matters at that moment. I would like to narrate this couplet which I find very inspiring. Chalne ka hosh na ho, baat karne ka josh na ho…sab eib insaan mein ho magar ehsaanfaramosh na ho (A person may not behave or talk in the right manner… he may have many faults but ingratitude or betrayal should not be one of them). I have always been grateful and loyal to my art. And that’s the only thing that has kept me alive.
I Am Asha Concert
Date: December 13, 2013
Venue: Sheikh Rashid Hall, Dubai World Trade Centre
Time: 7pm onwards
Tickets: 050 2254010, 04 4337607/6