If India’s ‘nightingale’ Lata Mangeshkar touched a million hearts with her melodious voice in tracks such as Aayega aanewala (Mahal; 1949) and Naina Barse (Woh Kaun Thi; 1964) , her sister and popular singer Asha Bhosle struck a chord with listeners for her peppy as well as soulful numbers like Piya Tu Ab Toh Aaja (Caravan; 1971), Yeh Mera Dil (Don; 1978) and Mera Kucch Samaan Tumhare Paas Pada Hai (Ijaazat; 1987).
Read: What Asha can do before the mike, I can never do: Lata Mangeshkar
Not only has the singer made the nation proud with her unique talent, but has also represented India on a global platform. Asha has sung with international artists such as Boy George and Michael Stipe and performed at concerts the world over. HT Café caught up with the legend close to her birthday. As she turns 83 today, the songstress talks about the declining quality of music today, the genres of classical, ghazals and her bond with her elder sister, Lata Mangeshkar.
Why do you feel the quality of music has dropped today?
A couple of years back when songs with lyrics such as ‘Munni’ and ‘Halkat’ were created, I felt that the standard of music had really dropped. These days however, there are nice and slow songs being made. But even these songs aren’t like the ones we sang in the earlier times. The songs that we sang back in those days were soulful and had a quality to them. Today, songs aren’t that beautiful.
Most people are still addicted to the old film music. Why do you think that is?
Though music has undergone a change, people still remember songs from the older times. They even wish to listen to the same tracks on stage today. This might be the case because of the meaningful lyrics or the melodious tune to the songs or the quality of the voices in them. Singers sang those numbers with a lot of feelings. Today, no one has the voice quality of Lata didi, Mukesh, Mohammed Rafi or Kishore Kumar. The feelings with which these singers sang in those times, are missing these days. Today, one can only find fast music and noise around.
Do you think the genre of ghazals is dying?
Everything is changing today from the kind of clothes we wear to the kind of food we eat. But the same shouldn’t happen with music because the ghazals that have been written, created and the way they are sung, holds a lot of importance in the field of music. People don’t have time to listen to classical music but ghazals can be listened to. There are many ghazal singers who can’t be surpassed such as Mehdi Hassan. Ghulam Ali too falls in the same league. Because of modern technology such as the television, people have started living a fast-paced life. They don’t have the time to sit down and listen to music.
Asha Bhosle’s hit song, Chura liya hai tumne made her a household name. (YouTube)
It’s very rare that labels are interested in marketing or promoting ghazal singers as compared to pop singers or Bollywood music…
I visit weddings and I see that from elderly women, to the bride, to small children- everyone dances. This proves that everyone wants to dance and couldn’t before because of circumstances. Now that they can, dance songs are being made to cater to that. No one is bothered about listening to the song nor do they understand the lyrics. They just want the beats. Maybe they will themselves realise that now this trend is being overdone and they would wish to listen to some different music. Maybe then, things will change.
Asha Bhosle’s song, Mera kucch samaan from Ijaazat was a runaway hit with listeners. (YouTube)
What kind of a musical equation do you share with Lataji?
We talk about a lot of things, aside from music. But when it comes to discussing songs she says she doesn’t understand what’s happening with regards to the creation of music. She tells me that she and I have both been a part of good times and done qualitative work. She even wonders if musicians of today can come close to the kind of work we did earlier. We both feel that today’s music isn’t very high class and we don’t even discuss it that much. You will still be amazed if you listen to numbers by the likes of SD Burman, RD Burman, Madan Mohan, Shankar-Jaikishan etc. Evergreen numbers were penned by lyricists such as Shakeel Badayuni and Sahir Ludhianvi. But today, do you see anyone writing like that?