Asha Bhosle turns 88 on September 8. She has been a playback singer for 78 years and recorded some songs recently too. I don’t even know when the films are made and released. But if the song becomes a hit, then I realise, oh I have sung this,” says the lady popularly known as Ashatai.
She says, to her, the best birthdays are when the mother brings a plate with a lighted lamp and gives sweets to the child and prays for the child’s long life. “Those are the best memories I have when it comes to birthdays. But I still remember when I turned 60 and the children wanted to surprise me. The house was full of flowers and I had to keep attending calls on the landline back then.”
She recalls that her children Nandu (Anand) and Varsha took her to a restaurant and it was very dark. “They held my hand and made me climb the stairs and when we reached and the lights went on, I saw my mother, didi (Lata Mangeshkar) and all my other siblings. All the other playback singers of that generation were there, and they all sang and wished me,” she reminisces.
Asha now has her own restaurant franchise — Asha’s — with branches in the UAE as well as in Manchester, where Mission Impossible star Tom Cruise walked in to dine a few days ago. “I reckon it was not just coincidence that he came there and ordered food. I am told he liked the food so much that he ordered the dishes again,” she says, adding, “I should have been at the Manchester restaurant when Tom Cruise was there.”
Her childlike enthusiasm is the reason why she remains so grounded even after collaborating with the best people in the business. “The biggest award is from the people. Till the time people want to listen to my songs, till then there is an Asha Bhosle. If I don’t have any listeners, I am nothing. Every artiste lives off the love of the public, and is successful because the public loves them,” she says.
“People talk about awards for a few days and then forget it. I have been nominated a few times for the Grammys now, won several awards. I have actually lost count of the awards.”
Asha has also lost count of the songs she has sung in films. “When I turned 60, Vishwar Nerurkar came out with a book which had a little less than 12000 songs. Gulzar bhai titled the book SwarAsha. Nerurkar also made books on other singers and my book is the biggest in terms of pages. The songs I have sung in the last 28 years have not been added to that,” she says, adding that she also started a web show called Baatein Purani Yaad Aati Hain....