The Present

The Future

Asha Bhosle
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The legend on her favourite singers

All the names I have mentioned have God gifted voices.
Real Audio    Shanta shanta...
   Badnam mohabbat...
   Allah tero naam...
   Suhani raat dhal chuki...
   Yeh nayan dare dare...
   Roshan jamaal-e-yaar...

They are a class in themselves and nobody can touch or imitate them. I feel such singers are rarely born in centuries. There is a gap between the heart and brain -- that is where the soundbox lies -- some sing from their heart, others use their brain. But all singers in my list apply both their heart and brain. That is the reason I consider them great singers. I strongly feel that the government must preserve their songs and set an example for the coming generations.

Master Dinanath Mangeshkar Master Dinanath Mangeshkar: He is my father, so it is very difficult for me to say why I like his song. But people say I look like my father and sing like him. His lifestyle and will power was very unique. He left his home at the age of 8 and learned singing. Later he formed his own drama company and had 200 people working in it. Then he went into films. My songs would be nothing had it not been for my father. I follow his footsteps. He used to say that anyone who knew the Sanskrit language would not find it difficult to sing songs in any language.

Lata Mangeshkar Lata Mangeshkar: I have been listening to her songs since my childhood. Very few singers have the range that she has in her voice. She has been singing for the last 55 years. Her voice is sweet, her pronunciation -- excellent. Make her sing any song in any language -- Tamil, Bengali or any other -- she can sing brilliantly. She has perfect tuning. And, whenever she sings, you will feel as if someone is singing in a temple. Allah tero naam by her is my favourite.

Mohammad Rafi Mohammad Rafi: He had come from Lahore, Punjab. His greatest ability was that he could sing at a high pitch and shift to a low pitch immediately. He could manage that very well. One of his songs which I love is Suhani raat dhal chuki.

Manna Dey Manna Dey: I first saw him when the song Upar gagan ye vishal, niche gahra patal was being recorded in Bombay Talkies. He was then an assistant to S D Burman. The song was written by the great poet Pradeepji. I had gone there with Didi (Lata Mangeshkar). At that time I never used to sing. He was a Bengali and his Hindi was not very good but his command over his voice was brilliant. There was nobody like him when it came to classical songs.

I think there is hardly anyone in the Hindi film industry who can sing classical songs as well as Manna Dey did. He used to tell me: 'Ashatai, you have never got an opportunity to sing the appropriate songs. If time permits I will surely make you sing classical songs.' But unfortunately that never happened. I must also say he gave me an opportunity to sing Bengali songs too. He wanted me to sing more classical songs.

Kishore Kumar Kishore Kumar: I met him in 1948 at Bombay Talkies. He gave 125 per cent to any song. His remarkable quality was that he gave music directors ideas that could be incorporate in his songs. He would say: "Guruji main yeh karoon, woh karoon. Main yoodling karoon." He used to eat only paan in the morning and practise yoddling after that. Not only that -- he had all kinds of music records in his home. His only hobby was music. I never saw him at any parties or gatherings. He was very whimsical and one always had to see his moods before talking to him. He didn't know classical songs but still sang them beautifully. Nakhrevali is one of my favourite songs.

Mukeshji: I used to like him very much because his Hindi was excellent. It was very clear and his pronuncation was excellent. No one could match that. We are Maharashtrians and I think my Hindi has improved because of him. His voice had a speciality. He never imitated anyone, he was an original. Jaane kahan gaye woh din from Mera Naam Joker is one of his classics. Ram kare aisa ho jaye is also worth remembering.

Hemantda Hemantda: I had first heard him in 1944. After hearing that song, I became a great fan of his. Unfortunately, we did not have tape recorders and CDs in those days. We only had the radio. And Hemantda used to sing on Bengal Radio. Aanchal se kyon baandh liya muj pardesi ka pyaar is one of my favourite songs. After I got married, I kept my son's name Hemant because I loved Hemantda's voice so much. Later, I also worked with him and the greatness of his voice is that after hearing his songs don't feel like hearing other songs.

His voice was like a deep ocean. Interestingly, his Hindi too was not very good because he was also a Bengali like Manna Dey. I am one of the greatest fans of Hemant Kumar. His songs Yeh nayan dare dare, Pukar lo from Khamoshi are wonderful. No one has that kind of a cultured voice.

Noorjahan Noorjahan: Badnam mohabat kaun kare badnam is my favourite song by Noorjahan. I had seen her in early childhood when Badi Maa was made. I have also played a role in that film. I call her Aapa. She sings beautifully. She was one of the greatest female playback singers at the time of K L Saigalsaab.

Mehdi Hassan Mehdi Hasan: He is God's miracle. I feel all those singers who have come from Marwar are really very good. He is one of them. His sur and lai is brilliant. If an impatient man listens to his songs, he will calm down. That's his greatness.

Ghulam Ali Ghulam Ali: He too is a miracle. Unke gane mein jo tadap hai woh kisi mein aa nahin sakti. Woh gaane mein kahan hai aur kahan jaenge kuch kah nahin sakti... A man will stand on his toes after he listens to his songs. Mehdi Hasan's songs can instil peace whereas a person will run to listen to Ghulam Ali.

As told to Syed Firdaus Ashraf

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