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'Mai' will be my only experiment with acting: Asha Bhosle

Subhash K Jha | Last Modified - Jan 30, 2013, 04:31 PM IST

'Mai' will be my only experiment with acting: Asha Bhosle
  • 'Mai' will be my only experiment with acting: Asha Bhosle
    'Mai' will be my only experiment with acting: Asha Bhosle

    Director Mahesh Kodyal’s Hindi film Mai where Asha Bhosle makes her debut as an actress is on release. The legendary songstress says it was not difficult to make the transition from singing to acting at this late stage of her life when she is 80.

    Says Ashaji, “It’s a mother role. I didn’t have to act .In fact I think acting is much easier than singing. While acting you get your emotions broken into several shots before they’re conveyed. While singing all the emotion have to come out in one go in one take. No, I didn’t find playing the mother in Mai too difficult.”

    However, no more acting roles for Ashaji. “I think I’m better off singing.My deepest regret is that two people so close to my heart, my daughter Varsha and my friend photographer Gautam Rajadhayksha won’t watch my film.Once a singer, always a singer.Acting is a new adventure. But I’ve been a singer all my life. I’ve sung whatever came my way. Good songs bad songs. I had no choice in the songs I sang.I sang whatever came my way because I needed the money.Whenever I’ve sung I’ve set my sorrows aside. But when I sit to think I see so many sorrows in my life.Maybe God things I’d stop singing if I was allowed to be stress-free.I never relaxed in life.”

    Having just completed 80, Ashaji is far from satisfied with her vast achievements. “My daughter Varsha(who died tragically last year) once asked me why I speak to everyone from my residence’s watchman to the guy who does our laundary. I inquire about everyone.That’s an old habit. My daughter asked, ‘Do you know who you are?’ I thought about it. She said, ‘You’re Asha Bhosle.And you must maintain a distance from people.’ I disagree with that. Just because I sing, it doesn’t I mean I am not a human being . I like to see myself as a simple person.I may dress up in public. But at home you’ll see me in a simple saree.”

    But at the moment she’s rejoicing in the compliments that her sister Lata Mangeshkar has heaped on her . “It felt good to hear her say in her interview with you that she can’t sing what I can. But I disagree with her.I feel if she wanted to sing my kind of songs she would have. But she didn’t want to . She didn’t have to. She got to sing all the songs for the heroines, so she didn’t have to sing for the other female characters in a film. I got those songs. And I made the best of them.”

    Recalling those days of struggle Ashaji says, “When there was already a Taj Mahal I came to build another one.Bahut mushqil thi.Who would want to go to another singer when there was already a Lata Mangeshkar? On top of that, I was her younger sister.Hamesha humein ek tarazu mein tola gaya. Janam bhar hum ussi tarazu mein baithe rahe.It was very tough for me to escape all these hurdles. I still haven’t escaped those comparisons.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.Just as long as Kishore Kumar was there no other male voice stood a chance. I first had to get songs that were comparable with Didi’s. 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. Didi became instantaneously successful. Plus there were other singers like Geeta Dutt.”

    Ashaji attributes her resilience and staying power to her honesty. “I am like glass. You can see right through me. I also refuse to cling to negativity. I like to move on.I am blessed because I get so much respect both in India and abroad, even at places like Spain and Portugal. No one has ever misbehaved with me in public . I think this world is beautiful.Not that I’ve forgotten any of the pain that I’ve gone through. It’s there all stored away. I am the soldier who has taken wounds on my chest. I am proud of them. I faced all the adversities.At 80 today I am happy and peaceful. No regrets.God gave me endurance power and because of Him I am still standing tall today.Main Bhagwan ki laadli hoon.”

    In addition Ashaji had to fight off the image of singing naughty number. “People during those days considered cabaret and dance numbers to be very lowly. Anyway I managed. On second thoughts, maine nahin kuch kiya,hota gaya.God was kind..And here I am.People think I’ve achieved a lot. Mujhe kuch nahin lagta. I still feel I’ve plenty to do. People hanker for recognition. But these are so temporal . If you ask people who got the first Bharat Ratna, no one would know.If I stop singing for a year everyone would forget me. The public memory is very short.I never get carried away by fame and recognition. I am far more concerned about giving my attention to my home and family.”

    She brightens up talking about her family. “My son Anand has twins. Now I divide my time between his home and my own residence in Peddar Street. When I am in Prabhu Kunj I unfailingly have my morning tea with Didi in her place. I go to her whenever I feel like.Sometimes in the evenings she’s engrossed in one of her favourite television programmes. I stay a while and quietly go away.”

    Speaking on new generations of singers Ashaji ponders, “The world has moved on.Earlier the female singer sang at a high pitch and the male singer at a low pitch. Now that has been reversed. There’s no time for slow soft sentimental songs.No point in clinging to the past and pining for nostalgia. If you remember, happy occasions whether it is the mehndi ceremony or a wedding, have always been celebrated with songs.Every individual wants to dance and sing.Rhythm ka zamana hai.No one listens to the words. You can’t stop the world from moving on. If you try you’ll get left behind.It’s not as if we don’t have talented singers. Sukhvinder Singh is inviolable.There’s a boy on Sur Kshetra called Diljaan. He is again amazing.It all depends on the right breaks. I am open to singing any kind of songs as long as the words are not cheap. People at my age are confined to retirement. I am still singing. The language isn’t of primary importance as long as I sing something that I and my fans are satisfied with.”

    She speaks of R .D Burman with much affection, though she is not too fond of the RD remixes. “I’ve done two albums of his re-mixes. When I did Rahul & I , I wanted to be faithful to the original.But my son Anand, who’s a big fan of Burman Saab and who looks after all my interests, told me to just leave it to him. I surrendered to him. He designed it according to today’s tastes. And he was right. The album was a resounding success.No one can stop others from doing re-mixes.People are forever cashing in musical names. You’ll see big posters of Lata Didi and mine at concerts. They turn out to be shows of our songs sung by other sings. CDs have our big pictures and a small ones of the actual singers. Music and musicians have suffered heavy losses because of these deceptive imitations. But what to do? Duniya aisi hi hai. You can’t fight it.But please, if you doing re-mixes, do be thoughtful towards the original.”

    Ashaji recently set up the Asha Bhosle Foundation Says the singing diva emotionally, “My daughter Varsha was very keen that she start a charitable trust The Asha Bhosle Foundation to help children. It couldn’t happen during her lifetime.Now after she’s gone I felt like reviving her dream. Hence after four months of being completely away from the limelight I performed in a concert in Pune recently. And that too because my brother Hridaynath Mangeshkar insisted that I do the show with him.”

    It was her brother who convinced Ashaji to come out of her bereavement . “He called me and made me sit.He placed the Tanpura in my hands and said, ‘Sing’. I did. Even Didi (Lata Mangeshkarji) was there when I resumed singing.My brother opened a door for me to escape my grief.I love my brother Hridaynath immensely and I couldn’t say no to his request. From the time he urged me to resume singing I began doing riyaaz ever single day. That’s all I did all day...practise my singing...for four months. At the concert I got the most overwhelming response. People told me I sound the way I did when I first came into the film industry.I can’t tell you how much praise I got for the concert with my brother on 19 January. People also donated generously for my foundation.A token cheque of Rs 1 lakh also came from my Didi also as her blessing. We collected Rs 1 crore 36 lakhs .This money I’ve handed over to the Mai Mangeshkar Hospital in Pune. It will be used to help unwell children.”

    Getting emotional at her daughter’s memory Ashaji says, “I could feel Varsha’s presence when I was on stage. It is God’s will.I feel each individual is born to do something in life. I am born to sing until the time when I meet my daughter in the next world.I am sure she’s waiting for me. I feel lighter of heart after singing. I broke down while singing on stage. The last time I sang with Hridaynath was 12 years ago. When he sings I just listen.From childhood I’ve looked after him like a mother. I am attached to him like a mother to her child.If he hadn’t asked me to resume singing I probably wouldn’t have.Now I’ll be recording songs with him. He told me, ‘If you don’t sing for me I’ve no motivation to compose. Now that you’re singing I am motivated to compose.’ I will be recording songs in Marathi soon.”

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