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Asha Bhosle
It’s a pleasant Friday afternoon, and Asha Bhosle is relaxing at her flat on Mumbai’s Pedder Road, playing with her grandchildren. Dressed in a light blue saree, she talks about how the young kids react to her music. Musician Somesh Mathur and video director Sumit Dutt listen attentively.

Mathur and Dutt have in fact worked with the popular playback singer on her latest album Asha, in which she has rendered some classic ghazals and nazms like the Farida Khamum popularised Aaj Jaane Ki Zid Na Karo, Mehdi Hassan’s unforgettable Ranjish Hi Sahi, Rafta Rafta and Mujhe Tum Nazar Se, Ghulam Ali’s hits Chupke Chupke, Aawargi and Dil Mein Ek Lehar and Jagjit Singh’s marvelous Ahista Ahista. While Mathur has recreated the music, Dutt has directed the Aaj Jaane Ki Zid Na Karo video.

Asha is one of the two albums Bhosle has recorded recently. In the other album – You’ve Stolen My Heart, she has worked with the US based Kronos Quartet on fresh arrangements of R D Burman songs. The album is being released in end August by Nonesuch Records, a Warner Music Group company.

Taking a break from the grandchildren, Bhosle settles down for the interview. “Poochiye,” she asks, with a pleasant smile. So we ask:

TR: What made you think of reinterpreting songs popularised by some of the greatest ghazal singers?
Ashaji: The idea wasn’t mine. Atul Churamani, who was with Virgin Records at that time, approached me with the concept three or four years ago. He also spoke to my son Anand, who liked the thought. At that time, I was busy with live shows and other commitments. But Anand persuaded me to go ahead with this project. In the meanwhile, Churamani had joined Saregama HMV. So I ended up recording with them.

TR: Since the songs are already known, how did you approach them?
Ashaji: Initially, I was a bit scared of doing these songs, as they had already worked before. Though I hadn’t recorded these songs before, I was extremely fond of some of them. I had never imagined I would sing them one day. So I decided to take this up as a challenge. Mathur worked on some fresh arrangements, and keeping them in mind, I tried to create a balance between their style and mine.

TR: You’ve recorded quite a few ghazals in your career, in albums like Meraj-e-Ghazal, Aabshar-e-Ghazal and Kashish, and in films like Umrao Jaan. How do you adapt yourself to the genre?
Asha: In ghazals, the most important element is the words. I have to put myself in those words, in order to express myself better. Whether I am singing Aaj Jaane Ki Zid Na Karo or Ranjish Hi Sahi, I have to go by their meaning and mood. In fact, that holds true for all genres. So whether I’m singing classically based songs, ghazals, love songs or cabaret numbers, I have to change myself accordingly.

TR: You’d already done remixes of R D Burman songs in the album Rahul & I. What made you do another album containing fresh interpretations of his songs?
Asha: The idea came from the Kronos Quartet. They are huge fans of RD saab. They met me when I was touring the US, and they described him as the Mozart of India. They were very keen to reinterpret his music, and I was impressed by their dedication.

You can read the rest of our exclusive with Asha Bhosle in the July 2005 issue of The Record Music Magazine available at your local newsagent.

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