By Ashok Kumar and Sanghmitra Kumar
Photos by Ken Leanfore
What an enthralling evening as Sydney became an audience to an earful of mesmerising songs, to the voice of a versatile repertoire and a spectacular show last night at the Opera House. For 175 minutes, the 82 year old, empress of Indian music Asha Bhosle sang for everybody. Apart from the usual/expected songs, “Aapki Asha” rendered ghazals and classicals of the yore.
The evening started with a hymn from Bhagwad Gita and as a prelude to the start of the proceeding she said “you all are good people (meherbaan)” and then came a beautiful song from Howrah Bridge “Aayeye meherbaan.” A song she had not sung on her previous tours as she was mainly focussing on music by her late husband R D Burman. It was all the more a welcome sign. This song had music by her mentor O P Nayyar. Her association with O P Nayyar had produced scintillating numbers that are popular even today.
The next on the list was “chura liya hai tumne jo dil ko” for which, the most recorded singer (about 13,000 songs in various languages, some put the figure at 20,000) said “This song has been remixed so much, at least 50 times, that I don’t know whether I am singing my song or someone else’s. Please tell me about it”
After the popular number”Ye mera dil pyaar ka diwana,” from the cult classic, Don, for which Asha ji won her 7th Filmfare award, arrived the time for Ghazals. Another weapon in her gamut that was hitherto not known unless she sang for “Umrao Jaan.” People used to say Asha is good enough for light and cabaret songs. She floored everyone with the rendition of Ghazals in the film and went on to win many more accolades and awards.
Then a surprise presentation for the entire audience, Asha ji presented her pride, her talented granddaughter, Zanai who gave a delightful Kathak performance. Asha ji mentioned that Zanai was still undergoing her training in classic music and dance. Later during the show, Zanai also sang “Sona Re” from Asha ji’s debut movie, as an actor, “Mai”.
The highlight of the show was the rendition of her father, Deenanath Mangeshkar’s classical song which he used sing and act in the dance drama “Man Pasand”. She mentioned that whatever “we” are that’s was because of him.
As compared to her earlier shows, this time Asha Tai also sang popular folk songs from Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh. The latter was from popular film “Mera Saya, Jhumka gira re,” which she said is one of the most difficult songs.
As the show came to a pinnacle, Asha Tai sang the extremely popular and extremely difficult “aaja aaja” from Teesri Manzil, followed by “Dum maro dum” from Hare Ram Hare Krishna” and finally her favourite “Piya tu ab to aaja.”
As the audience thought the show had come to an end and began leaving the auditorium, Asha ji and Zanai came back to the stage singing “Yeh Mera Dil” once again to bid Sydney a final farewell.
Though this was Asha Bhosle’s last world tour and Australia’s audience may never hear her live again, the musical memories she created will always stay on.