With a voice that's crooned many melodies and a youthful persona that refuses to wither away, Asha Bhonsle reaches yet another landmark today. The diva, who turns 74, plans to release an album of her father Dinanath Mangeshkar’s original compositions in the near future.
Excerpts from an interview:
You believe in constantly reinventing yourself. Is that a conscious move?
I believe in evolving for sure. Ever since I can remember, I have been trying out different things when it comes to music. Though I learnt Hindustani classical, I was fascinated by western music and would often try to imitate some of the western singers. I was also fortunate enough to get support of my composers. Pancham in particular, was always experimenting himself and that proved to be a great inspiration for me.
But didn’t he reserve his best compositions for Lataji?
Yes, he was very sure of what he wanted. If he felt Didi would do more justice to a particular song, he would create it for her accordingly. And I respected him for his convictions.
Did you ever feel a sense of rivalry?
Never. If at all, her perfection made me do my best and work harder.
|Asha Bhonsle turns 74 today|
Do you think he exploited your potential to the hilt?
I think he did. As I said, he was forever looking for a new approach to his style of music. He loved my voice and often created special tunes to explore my range and its full potential. From our first pairing in Teesri Manzil, Hare Rama Hare Krishna to Yeh Vaada Raha to Shaan and Namkeen and The Burning Train, he rendered many innovative styles to Hindi film music.
Do you ever feel that you could have sung some of Lataji’s songs, may be not better, but equally well?
I love some of her exclusive songs but I don’t think that anyone could have matched her. Hers is the perfect voice. I've loved many of her songs like Aaja re pardesi (Madhumati), Raina beeti jaaye (Amar prem) and Ai ri pawan (Jurmana) to name a few which have been my all-time favorites.
You have sung some of your best songs with O P Nayyar and that too at a range much lower than your usual.
Yes, only a few composers could exploit my complete range. He did make me sing some wonderful songs. Khayyamsaab too has created some excellent melodies for me, Umrao Jaan Ada being one of the best.
Do you miss those musical styles?
Very much. Each one had a distinctive identity of his own. Of course the newer lot is extremely talented like Vishal Bhardwaj, A R Rahman and a few other composers. But the music that we hear today is more noisy and technical than melodious.
Which were your most difficult songs?
Many. Burmanda made me sing Ab ke baras for Bandini almost seven times to get the right emotion. Pancham’s Dayya yeh main kahan aaa phansi.. from Caravan is a song in which I had to scale different octaves after every line which is very challenging for a singer to record at one go. Then Khayyamsaab called me to record for Umrao Jaan. I was shocked to find the track very low which I was not accustomed to. Nonetheless it was very satisfying.
What about your private albums with Pandit Jaidev?
He was a master composer. After the success of Nadi naare na jao (Mujhe Jeene Do) and Abhi na jao chhod kar (Humdono), we composed many private albums. Unfortunately none of them are available in the market today.
What made you do remixes?
It was very sad to see my songs being badly imitated and melody being compromised for loud music. Besides that, they were being made into vulgar music videos. It was then that I said to myself that Pancham’s memory should live on forever as a pleasant source of inspiration and decided to create an album of my songs. It was around this time that I met Hariharan and Leslie.
And your international forays?
It happened long back with Boy George. My recent international albums have given me an opportunity to explore my voice further and test my potential.
How often do you riyaaz?
Everyday! I also plan to release an album of my father Dinanath Mangeshkar’s original compositions in the near future. I feel sad that I haven’t done much in classical music.