Posted: 20 March 2006 at 9:33pm | IP Logged
'I always wanted to sing better than didi'
From the heyday of Bollywood music to the trauma after RD Burman's death, legendary singer Asha Bhosle recounts the good times and the bad, in a conversation with The Indian Express Editor-in-Chief, Shekhar Gupta, in NDTV 24X7's Walk the Talk. Excerpts:
How long have you lived in Mumbai?
Since childhood, actually we are from Goa.
I have heard that you make excellent Goan fish curry?
Yes I love cooking. Like I sing all kinds of songs, I also cook all types of food.
That is great, you love cooking and singing, I love eating and listening!
Songs those days were different, if things have changed for good it is because of Lata didi. She has changed the way people listen to music, how songs should be, the feel of songs. She and Mohammad Rafi made an immense contribution.
Which are your favourites from the early days of your career?
I can't remember at this moment. Actually I don't like the songs I've sung. I love Lata didi's songs.
You and Lata have many duets?
Yes, we sang a lot together starting from Mayur Pankh (Sings).
I heard that you had a very different style of singing. One used to hold the notes on the right hand and the other with the left hand.
Yes that's true, we used to face opposite directions when singing. But the interesting thing is that we never missed a beat. I got my cues from the movement of her hand.
You had a perfect understanding. Lata and you had many duets, most recently in Utsav in 1985.
Chaap Tilak from Utsav was our last duet.
You have sung a lot of naughty songs and done a lot of naughty things.
Naughty things, no. Naughty songs, yes. I have done everything with good intentions. I got married, if people think its naughty, let it be so. I got married on my own terms, a lot of people talk about it, but I have faced the consequences. I believe that if you do something you should be strong enough to face the consequences.
We read that there was a lot of tension between you and Lata — sibling rivalry. A film also was made on it, Saaz.
No, there is no truth in these stories. There was healthy competition between us. I always wanted to sing better that didi but never wanted to bring her down in order to reach that level. One should compete against a stronger opponent, there is no fun competing with a weaker one. That's why I don't enjoy singing these days. Those days we used to have Kishore Kumar, Mohammad Rafi, then we used to try competing with them. It was so much fun.
You and Rafiji have done a number of duets..
Yes, 900 of them.
There was a revolution in Indian music with R D Burman's entry in the industry. You remember Teesri Manzil?
The concept of Indipop started with that. From O mere sona re sona re..., aaja aaja main hu pyar tera...oh haseena zulfon wali...this was just the beginning.
An American classical band has remixed eight of R D Burman's songs, which I had been part of and were nominated for the Grammy Awards.
Don't you have any problems with remixes?
Yes, I have. When a remix is being recorded, a lot of thinking should go into how to sing it, considering the feelings and the hard work put in the original. But people concentrate more on dance moves. We have seen dancers like Hema Malini and others, but shaking a leg with skimpy clothes is not dancing. I have never changed a music director's tune. I have maintained their originality, because when they write a song, they have a particular emotion that permeates it.
You were branded a singer of seductive, cabaret numbers. You became Helen's voice.
It happened much before. It was said that I sing "bad songs". Many were against me, I was demoralised many times, but at the time, I did not have a choice. When I came to the industry, I had three children to bring up. I wanted to give them the best, that's why I had to work. I had to do everything on my own... I sang whatever I got.
There is a lot of folklore behind the song Ae Mere Watan Ke Logon. You were supposed to sing this song before Pandit Nehru but Lata ended up singing it.
I had rehearsed for the song and later on Lata also joined me and learned all the songs. Then I fell ill and backed out.
Was it because of sibling rivalry?
No, nothing like that has ever happened or will ever happen.
Have you watched the film Saaz or heard about it?
No I have not seen it but I've heard about it.
What is your opinion about the film?
You can cook up as many stories as you want. Lata didi and I are successful sisters, so they used our name. It would have been good had they told the truth, though they have made me a star! Shabana Azmi has acted very well in that movie. She always does, she is a very good actor. There is no point fighting over what they have shown. Time is a big healer. People will forget both Saaz and Asha with time.
There is yet another folklore about your relationship with OP Nayyar. What is the truth?
There is no truth to this. People believe what they want to. I was a good singer and still am. I used to sing a lot of his songs as there was no one else available. Geeta (Dutt) didi had got married, Lata didi and he had some problems which I am not exactly aware of, so I got all his songs. People have a lot of ups and downs in their life. It's never stable....I had to ride this boat (of life) with three little children clinging to me. Life was very hard and filled with sorrow and people said all sorts of things about me.
But now all that is over.
But I've gone through all that. Can't remember all of it now, but will certainly put it down in my memoirs. Just before the release of Rangeela RD Burman had passed away. Everyone, including those music directors whom I had helped and taught holding their fingers, had written me off. Those days were very difficult for me, both emotionally and mentally. I was away in San Francisco recoding a song for Ali Akbar when I got a call saying one of my songs was a big hit. I could not remember which it was, since I had not done any work for a long time. When I got back I was happy to see that Rangeela was topping the charts.
You sang a couple of other songs after that.
Yes, I did.
If you had not sung Rangeela, Urmila Matondkar would not have been a star.
No, no she is a very good girl and a star on her own. Like this, I have seen the worst phases of my life.
Edited by sonpapri - 20 March 2006 at 10:05pm