Swimming strong at 82

Asha Bhosle (left) is listed in the Guinness Book Of World Records as the most recorded singer.
Asha Bhosle (above) is listed in the Guinness Book Of World Records as the most recorded singer. PHOTO: BAY ENTERTAINMENT & VMALL EVENTS

Indian singer Asha Bhosle says she is like a shark as she cannot keep still

"Retire" is not a word in Indian singer Asha Bhosle's dictionary, she says.

"I'm like a shark. I can't keep still. Some call me a workaholic. I enjoy keeping busy and, fortunately for me, there's a large audience out there who are keen to hear me sing. It's their love and affection that keep me going," adds the 82-year-old star who is listed in the Guinness Book Of World Records as the most recorded singer.

However, she plans to cut down on the number of global shows, so her concert at the Star Theatre on Saturday could be her last one in Singapore. She tells Life in an e-mail interview: "Singapore has always held a special place in my heart. I have had many successful concerts in the past and I'm looking forward to the upcoming one, which may be my last one here."

For the concert, she will be accompanied by actor, director and singer Sachin. She will sing not only her songs, but also other popular tunes from Hindi cinema.

The music industry is an unforgiving place and it shall unceremoniously show you the door if you can't perform to high standards

ASHA BHOSLE on why she is constantly on her toes

She says: "I think this show is different from the others I've done before as these songs are close to my heart."

  • BOOK IT / ASHA BHOSLE - THE LAST EMPRESS

  • WHERE: The Star Theatre


    WHEN: Saturday, 7pm


    ADMISSION: $38, $88, $128, $158, $198 and $248

Given that her other big love besides music is food, she is keen to indulge in her favourite Singaporean dishes, such as pepper crab, while she is here. Not that she will go overboard with the feasting.

"I eat balanced meals and I don't diet. I eat everything, but within limits and in small quantities. Walking and yoga also help, especially for singing where breath control is essential," she says of how she keeps healthy.

Her work, which includes tending to her chain of restaurants worldwide, also helps keep her healthy and sprightly, she adds.

Born in what is now known as the state of Maharashtra in western India, the daughter of a theatre actor and classical singer sang her first song, Chala Chala Nav Bala, for the 1943 Marathi film Majha Bal at the age of 10.

Since then, she has performed more than 12,000 songs in 20 languages, covering genres ranging from classical and folk to ghazal and pop. The mother of three is best known for the songs she sang in Bollywood movies and is said to have been the singing voice behind more than 1,000 films.

Over more than six decades, she has also been feted with numerous awards, including The Padma Vibhushan, the second highest civilian award in India. In 1997, she became the first Indian singer to be nominated for a Grammy Award, for her album Legacy, with Hindustani classical musician Ustad Ali Akbar Khan.

Building up such an extensive body of work was not easy, she says. She has had to constantly be on her toes and be adaptable to changes.

"The biggest lesson is that no one shall call me if I'm not good enough. The music industry is an unforgiving place and it shall unceremoniously show you the door if you can't perform to high standards," says Bhosle, whose second husband, film composer R.D. Burman, died in 1994. "Another thing it's taught me is to adapt to changing trends and fashion in music. I've kept abreast of developing styles and moved along with many new generations as per their chosen style."

To that end, perhaps, she keeps abreast of social trends and has a Twitter account with 1.89 million followers.

"Social media is here to stay and it's going to get bigger and stronger. It is a wonderful tool to communicate with people who would otherwise have been inaccessible."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 24, 2015, with the headline 'Swimming strong at 82'. Print Edition | Subscribe