Asha Bhosle: The voice of Bollywood
In the old days all the movie songs were recorded right there on set,” remembers Asha Bhosle, the quintessential Bollywood singer.
Now 77, Bhosle was just 11 when she performed her first song on a movie soundtrack, Chala Chala Nav Bala from Majha Bal in 1943.
In the 68 years since, she has provided the on-screen singing voice for generations of actresses unable to capture and deliver a song as brilliantly as she could, singing around 20,000 tunes in 14 languages, as well as recording with Robbie Williams, Michael Stipe and the Kronos Quartet, and lending her name to Cornershop’s Brimful of Asha, one of the landmark No 1 hits of the 1990s.
“My son Anand first heard that song in San Francisco and told me all about it,” she says, via a friend and translator, from Australia where she is appearing in concert. “I was at the immigration counter at Heathrow Airport once and the young officer read the profession listed in my passport as ‘singer’. He was intrigued, so I told him I was the Asha from Brimful of Asha, and he was so excited he left his post and called his friends over to meet me. So I guess, at the very least, that song helped me clear UK immigration faster than usual.”