Asha Bhosle : An Interview

It's noon at her Peddar Road flat in Mumbai. Asha Bhosle is in the kitchen, in a light pink housecoat. She loves to cook, this quintessential Maharashtrian housewife. A "simple, homely woman" as she describes herself, she often goes to the market with her daughter-in-law Anuja to buy vegetables and fish. Ashaji spoke about how her life centres on her family and her music, her marital life and her relationship with her elder sister Lata Mangeshkar.

What motivates you to sing at this age?

I constantly need something new and challenging. We saw someone encashing on my old popular song (Chura liya), so we thought why shouldn't I do it. My family, especially my younger son Anand, pushed me.

How is your voice still so young?

Riyaz (practice), 45 minutes every day. Actually, you sound as old as you feel. I always felt young at heart.

Who do you give credit for your success?

My parents and God. I believe in destiny and the philosophy of karma. Many people have contributed, but I struggled alone. For the latest success, the credit really goes to my children.

What's your mantra for success?

Take risks. Never say die. It has worked for me. My priorities were children, then music. Whatever came my way to help me, I took it. The rest I dumped ruthlessly.

Was there no disappointment?

Initially, when I got into the world of music, I was treated like an underdog. But I couldn't have backed out.

What about the men in your life?

The children have grown up, and I feel uncomfortable if someone points out the hard times I've had. Ganpatrao and Pancham (R.D. Burman) are no more. I had a unique relationship with Pancham. He was a great music director who exploited my vocal cords like nobody could. We both loved music, food and the good things in life. And yet maintained our privacy, by choice.

Wasn't the relationship strained later?

Not exactly. Wrong people around him misguided him. Any successful artiste loves chamchas (cronies). They tried to separate us. When I couldn't tolerate it any more, I explained the situation to him. He realised it.

How different are you from Lata?

She is older by four years, she is like my mother. We have kept our professions separate from family life.

But isn't she a rival?

What are we talking about? Seniority or numbers? What she can do, I might not be able to. What I did, she can't. It is like two people who went to the moon: the person who took the first step got all the acclaim. It was a healthy competition. I always wanted to do better, that zid has made me what I am today.

How do you feel when people compare the two?

Good and bad. No one can match her. It is an honour that people compare my voice with hers. But bad, because we are two separate identities with different kinds of voices.

Sheela Raval (1997)

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