It is the sort of the air a legend carries with her that makes you feel lucky to bask in her company. Ashaji, or Asha Bhonsale, India’s much loved song diva was in Dubai with actor Farooq Shaikh (who had also come to Sharjah International book Fair) to announce her concert ‘I am Asha.’ Excerpts from and before the press conference
Ashaji compliments Farooq Shaikh’s chikankari kurta and he turns pink on his cheeks while I await my turn for the interviews at Asha’s restaurant Wafi. She has just been conferred an honorary doctorate and her son Anand Bhonsale points out the elaborate posters that dot the Asha’s restaurant in Dubai. “You know who did this for us. It was Lajo (Dubai’s own Lajo Gupta)and her face lights up when she sees the intricacies of the poster – that is masterji she point out and that is… she dimples – as we walk towards the press conference area. Farooq Shaikh tells me that the Sharjah International Book fair is getting bigger by the day and inquires about the Emirates Airlines Literary Festival.
The concert, brought to Dubai by Crreans Communications, will be a biography of Ashaji’s career and not ‘my personal life’ she specifies. It is a close look into the names of some of the most important film personalities and legends she has worked through in her years. Ask her why she chooses to call the concert ‘I am Asha’ when she is going to talk about other people and she states that, “I was there, so I will be part of the conversation. And we have Farooq Saab to do the rest,” she says.
To oblige a fan, she charms us by singing do lafzon ki hai dil ki kahaani … a line she hums sometimes when she is cooking her favourite dishes. As if to lead us to a preview of the show, she mentions ,“ Lataji (Lata Mangeshkar) loves non-veg food and I used to cook that for her. Now she has reduced her intake of that food. Also she is very fond of narrating jokes. Every time I met her, she had a new joke for me,” says the indulgent younger sister.
As for the ups and downs in her life, she states that her life has been a tough journey. “ Whenever a music director composed anything difficult to sing, he would approach me. I love to handle difficult things. It tested me as an artiste and challenged me,” she states. As the event draws to a completion, she talks about that one line that applies to her life. “Never ever betray your talent, come what may. There are two things that have stayed with me forever in my life- my voice and the people who have loved my voice. Till both are alive, I will sing till I am 90,” she says. Inshallah to that!