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Proud Maharashtrian

On May 1, Asha Bhosle holds a mirror to the city of dreams and serenades the state she grew up in with one of her famous songs .

entertainment Updated: May 01, 2011 14:02 IST
Roshmila Bhattacharya

My father, Deenanath Mangeshkar, came here in 1910, when Goa was still under the Portuguese rule.”

She was born in 1933 in Goar, Sangli. When she was nine, her father died. The family moved from Pune to Kolhapur and then Mumbai. She remembers growing up in middle-class Nana Chowk in the pre-partition years when the city was sparkling clean as the roads would be washed every day. “At night, the streets would ring with the trotting of the ‘ghoda gaadis’ (horse-drawn carriages) and the cries of the ‘kulfiwalas’. There were lots of eateries whose dance floors were buzzing. Today, only Marine Drive remains from that era. But Mumbai continues to be warm and welcoming,” she asserts.

Which of her songs would describe the state best? “Definitely ‘Bahu asot sunder, sampanna ti maha, priya amucha ek, Maharashtra desh ha…’ But I have sung in different languages, from Marathi, Gujarati and Hindi to Tamil and Bengali,” she points out. “And today, not just Mumbai, but Kolkata, Ahmedabad and Lucknow also consider Asha to be their own. I’m proud to be a Maharashtrian and even prouder to be an Indian.”

That’s why the true-blue patriot doesn’t have any favourites in the IPL. But when the Men in Blue are up against another country, her prayers never stop. “When India took on Pakistan in the recent World Cup, I got a fever. During the finals with Sri Lanka, I was too nervous to watch. All I could think of was winning,” she admits, recalling the five-match Tests that she’d sit through in the 1950s.

“There was Gary Sobers, Polly Umrigar and Nari Contractor then. Today, we have Sachin Tendulkar who deserves the Bharat Ratna and MS Dhoni whom I admire for his enviable calm. The only reaction I’ve seen from him was when he was almost run out during the World Cup. He hit the ground with his bat, once.”

The Dada Saheb Phalke winner today prefers shows and private albums to Hindi film playback because she doesn’t care for the lyrics. And enjoys TV serials like Pavitra Rishta and Phulwa to a movie in a multiplex: “I'd rather watch Hulchul or a Munnabhai movie at home. I enjoy comedies to actioners and Munna and Circuit can always make me laugh.”

At 77, she is readying for an acting stint this week in Subhash Dawar-Nitin Shankar’s Hindi movie Maaee, directed by debutant Mahesh Kodiyal. “I had second thoughts about the film,” she laughs. “My children, Varsha and Anand, coaxed me into doing it, pointing out that I had appeared on TV many times and sung, danced and joked on stage. Besides, my onscreen ‘daughter’ Padmini Kolhapure is my ‘bua’ (aunt’s) daughter. Though a brilliant actor, she won’t give me cold feet. The film is a challenge and I’m ever ready for one.”