Friday, March 16, 2007

Interview with Asha Bhosle

Bollywood cinema might be a celebration of passion and unrequited love - albeit without any physical demonstrations of the same and always with a happy ending - but in this multibillion-dollar industry it is often the singers, not the actors, that garnish the greatest acclaim.

Sure, the actors can deliver their lines, dance up a storm and lip-sync to the music, but it is the performances by so-called "playback singers" that can make or break a film. Of all the playback singers, there can only be one queen, and the crown belongs to Asha Bhosle.

Bhosle has no idea how many songs she has sung, but the 73-year-old grandmother has more than 12,500 titles to her name, including collaborations with players as diverse as Code Red, Michael Stipe and, well, Brett Lee. Her music has been sampled by both the Black Eyed Peas and Nelly Furtado.

It's a colourful career trajectory for an artist who began singing, aged four, with the musicians who gathered in her father's Mumbai lounge room each weekend to practise. Years of classical singing lessons followed, and then, lured by the glamour of Bollywood, Bhosle took to the screen.

"There are so many different styles of singing that are used in Hindi films,'' she says. ''Ghazaal singing and classical, it isn't just about pop, and the actresses were so beautiful that I wanted to work with them and give them my voice. I was fascinated by the film industry."
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