Today Asha Bhosle celebrates her 88th birthday. We wish her a happy birthday by reproducing thisold intervciew taken eight years ago by Jyothi Venkatesh.
Asha Bhosle has played the title role of an ailing mother in Mahesh Kodiyal’s debut film MAI. Describing her transition from singing to acting with MAI, when I met her for this interview at Hotel J.W. Marriott, Asha says that her foray into acting is nothing else but an experiment for her. “I have sung on the stage during all my shows and also acted in music videos. I had actually said no to the offer when the producer approached me with the offer to cast me in the role because I see my face every day on the mirror and I definitely know that it is not suited for acting, but my son Anand suggested to me that I should at least give acting a try and back out if I find it not so comfortable. Padmini Kolhapure also told my son that I should be cast in the role of the mother because she felt that I would suit the role to the T”.
Asha didn’t agree to take up the offer immediately. “I kept on dilly dallying because I was not sure and was wondering whether I should take up acting or not. After crying for almost a month, I said yes just a few days before the mahurat of the film. You see, I have my own place in the film industry as a singer. Though I act even while I sing, I should say that while it is not at all tough for me to sing in front of the microphone, it is very difficult to face the camera as an actress”.
According to Asha, what lured her to say yes to the offer was her fascination for the title MAI. “I look like my mother who I used to call Mai but the film is not based on my real life, though it has the emotions of the mother-daughter in it. In any case, Lata didi used to act in the early stage of her career and my dad also used to act. I too had acted in my childhood in a film called MAA MERI MAA when I was just 9. I would say that acting in films is risky but at the same time I would like to contradict by telling that it is not too risky too. As far as I am concerned, it is something new to try. I would say that naam kamaana aasaan hai magar rakhna mushkil hai. MAI is my second and last film.”
Asha confesses that she was nervous when she faced the camera in front of Yash Chopraji, for the mahurat. “I do not think there is any artist who has never been nervous in front of the camera. I too was nervous when I faced the camera in front of Yash Chopraji, because though I have faced Yashji, Mehboobsaab etc as a playback singer in the recording studio, I had never faced him as an actress. Though I do not have the fear of the camera, I am nervous even today when I am on the stage for a show”.
Her niece Padmini Kolhapure plays the role of her daughter in the film. It was Asha, who had suggested to Devsaab that he should cast Padmini in his film ISHQ ISHQ ISHQ when she was just a small little child. “I am related to her because I am her buwa. I am glad that I am playing the mother of a versatile actress like Padmini in the film. Ram Kapoor is playing my son in law. I told Pandi (that is what I call Padmini) that I would not act in front of the camera but be myself- natural and what I am in real life. Every woman knows what clothes suit her and what doesn’t. Though I wear just ordinary clothes in real life, when I step on the stage, I make it a point to wear flashy clothes”.
Though several playback singers in India have staked their claim to having sung 25, 000 songs in their singing career, Asha challenges that no singer in the entire world can humanly sing 25,000 songs. “I would like to state humbly that I am the only singer who has sung the maximum number of songs-12, 000. If you sing one song a day, you can humanly sing 365 songs a year and 3650 songs in ten years. In around 60 years of my career I could sing 12,000 songs because there were times I had sung even four songs day”.
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At the risk of sounding like old fashioned, Asha says that she doesn’t like to watch films which are being made today, because she finds most of the films barring a few, too computerized and not at all real. “The films are full of maara maari and lack emotion like in the films of yore. I have not heard the remix song of my Dum Maro Dum from Dev Anand’s HARE RAMA HARE KRISHNA”.
Asha signs off by asserting that Latadidi is the best among the old as well as the youngsters today. “Contrary to rumors, didi and I never had any vicious rivalry. Whenever I used to sing with her, there was this healthy competitive spirit between us. I used to pray to God that I should be able to sing, if not better than her, at least as good as she is singing”.