Hindustan Times (Lucknow)


- Prasun Sonwalkar n prasun.sonwalkar@hindustant­imes.com

As she prepares for what is being billed as her “Farewell Tour” of Britain, Asha Bhosle has revealed for the first time how she immersed herself in the character of a Lucknow courtesan to prepare for the recording sessions of the iconic 1981 film “Umrao Jaan”.

Bhosle, currently in Britain for the tour, said she had turned 83 and was unlikely to visit the country again. But she would try to sing “all kinds” of songs to entertain fans during her performanc­es in Birmingham on Saturday and London on Sunday.

Talking about her rendition of the songs composed by Khayyam for “Umrao Jaan”, particular­ly “Dil cheez kya hai”, Bhosle said: “We have only one focus while recording songs – who is singing it on the screen, how does the actor look like. For ‘Dil cheez kya hai’, the image of Rekha came to my mind.

“Then I read the book (the Urdu novel ‘Umrao Jaan Ada’ of 1905). I understood the situation. After imbibing all that, I became Umrao Jaan myself. I could translate her feeling in the situation into my rendition of the song.”

Speaking to a media scrum comprising journalist­s from India, Pakistan and Britain on Wednesday, Bhosle dwelt on her 72-year career spanning 13,000 songs, changes in the music industry over the decades, her love of cooking and her desire to visit Pakistan.

Singers of her generation, Bhosle said, would study the song situation in the film, understand the lyrics, the language (Urdu or Hindi, or a mix of both), improvise and then try to transfer all that was in their mind at the time of recording. “This is why our songs are still fresh in the hearts and mind of millions. We put our hearts into those songs. Today when people listen to those songs, they are transporte­d to the same situation in which they were sung,” she said.

Bhosle said her contempora­ries such as Mohammed Rafi, Kishore Kumar, and her sister Lata Mangeshkar, were leaving behind a legacy for generation­s of new singers. There is no genre or language in which they had not sung, she added.

“Today, every new singer starts with our old songs, see any song-based shows on television, they all feature old songs. We have left behind this treasure for the coming generation­s. I feel good that even establishe­d new singers now sing two of theirs and eight of our songs.”

Asked repeatedly by London-based journalist­s of Pakistani channels why she had not visited Pakistan, where she has a huge fan following, Bhosle said she was “very keen” to do so but somehow a trip had not yet materialis­ed.

“I know that people of Pakistan like my songs. I am not a politician. I love every human being, I love the people of Pakistan. Pakistani singers are very good. I don’t consider them to be different from us. They are all ours.

“They are not different from us,” she said.

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 ?? HT PHOTO ?? Asha Bhosle during a press conference in London on Wednesday.
HT PHOTO Asha Bhosle during a press conference in London on Wednesday.

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