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Ageless Asha

RESHMA S KULKARNI

She reinvents herself to keep singing even at the age of 75. Asha Bhosle talks about the secret of her longevity.


She is the songstress with a golden voice spiced with naughtiness. Asha Bhosle belies her 75 years and the fact that, for 65 years, she has lent her magical vocals to a range of actors from Madhubala to Mallika Sherawat. At the launch of her latest a lbum during her birthday celebrations, she spoke about her life and career. Excerpts:

First, how does it feel to be 75?

I hardly feel 75! Here I am launching my latest album and singing in various films; would I do it if I felt 75? Age is just a number. Your real age is what you feel within and I still feel 25. But I do admit that nature forces me to remember my real age when my knees start hurting after jiving with my great-grandchildren (chortles).

How do you normally celebrate your birthday? What’s special for this special occasion?

I never celebrate my birthday. Earlier, there used to be no time to celebrate them. Now, my family and fans flood me with so much love and congratulatory messages that I don’t feel the need for a separate celebration. Also, I belong to the old school of thought that believes in working on their birthday for the luck to continue; hence I am launching my album ‘Precious Platinum’ today.

What do you identify as the landmarks of your life?

My life has been a strange crisscross of joys and sorrows. No doubt I have seen immense success with the grace of God as also a lot of love. But a large part of my life was full of intense struggle. I’m yet to get over the train journeys from my home in Borivali to studios as far as in Mahalaxmi. I used to leave my crying kids behind to record for eight-10 hours, come back, cook and then nurse them and yet be barely able to make ends meet. But it is due to those experiences that I still have my feet firmly on the ground. I’m as much at home in a Mercedes as in a bus even today!

Tell us more about ‘Precious Platinum’.

It was a brainwave of my son Anand, and Nitin Shankar who now leads my band. Instead of rehashing my old songs the duo thought of creating nine new tracks. It was great fun shooting for the video with two young actors in the beautiful ravines of Malshej during the monsoons. I felt like a kid again as I got drenched to my heart’s content in the rain. What also makes this album special is that I recorded the first song of my career in 1943 with HMV (now Saregama) and I have recorded this album with them again.

You have always been lauded for your re-inventive streak. Tell us more about the inspiration behind it.

An artist who refuses to reinvent is doomed to stagnation. It has been an inherent part of my persona, which is what made me emulate Elvis Presley in 1956 to sing Yeh Aajkal ke Chhokre, introduce Rock n Roll via Eena Meena Deeka; sing mujras in films like “Umrao Jaan”; and also introduce the latest trend of item numbers through songs like Khallas and Kambakht Ishq. My drive to learn English was an outcome of this need to keep up with the times. I realised that if I had to carve a niche in this cosmopolitan society and showcase my talent, I needed to learn English. It was difficult to do so while balancing home, kids and recordings but I did it.

What magic potion do you drink to sing for actresses from 1943 to 2008?

I like the word magic potion (laughs) I would have loved to have one. I make it a point to understand the character of the actress I’m singing for and the scene where the song features …. Emotions remain the same, whatever the era!

Is it lack of such involvement by today’s singers that makes the shelf life of today’s songs so minuscule while yours and Lata didi’s numbers are still hummed?

I wouldn’t say so. There are good singers today. Times have changed; technology has made things faster and that’s fine. As for us, I’d like to believe that, over the past six-seven decades, me and didi, have become so ingrained in the listeners’ hearts and homes that it’s but natural that our songs have a better recall. Give today’s singers time to make that space in your heart; it will happen with their songs too.

Apart from singing, your passion is cooking. Do we see a cookbook written by you soon?

No cookbook, I don’t have time but I have five restaurants running in five countries around the world and I hope for an expansion.

Finally, what would you wish for ?

What can I ask for? He has given me everything. But I’d pray for many more years to spread joy through my music.

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