Entertainment & Arts

Asha Bhosle on films, food and life as a Bollywood legend

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Media captionBollywood legend Asha Bhosle launches a restaurant in Manchester.

Legendary Indian singer Asha Bhosle has been one of Bollywood's leading playback singers for seven decades, providing the singing voice for actresses in more than 1,000 films.

With more than 11,000 songs to her name in over 20 Indian languages since the 1940s, she is in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world's most prolific recording artist.

She was also the muse for British band Cornershop, who paid tribute to her with their hit 1997 single Brimful of Asha.

Now 82, the singer, songwriter, actress and great-grandmother is just as passionate about food as singing, and has opened her 10th Indian restaurant. The Manchester establishment features signature dishes inspired by her childhood.

Image copyright Wafi

You've worked in the music industry for 72 years - do you still get nervous before a performance?

Yes I still get nervous from time to time. All artists do and I think being nervous is a good thing when you're about to perform. It helps with the performance. But once I get into the song, the nerves disappear.

What are your favourite memories from your career?

I always enjoyed singing and working with the late Kishore Kumar. He was a legendary playback singer, an actor and a producer/director. It was always both a challenge and a positive experience working with Kishore - I knew that if I was singing with Kishore Kumar then the recording was going to be something special.

You've been the playback singer for dozens of Indian female actresses - do you have a favourite?

Yes, Madhubala was a beautiful person, both in her looks and personality and I was really fond of her. But I enjoyed working with all the leading ladies really.

What is your favourite Bollywood film?

I'm not keen on films which depict a lot of violence. I prefer films and dramas based on families and relationships - films which focus on love and harmony. They're the films which have the best songs too - a song for the mum, a song for the son etc… I can't pick one single film out. I've seen and worked on so many - how can I choose one single film? It's too difficult!

You've also acted - do you wish you had acted more?

No - I'm not too keen on acting. With singing you get lost in the music - I go into another world when I'm singing. But with acting the directors are always stopping to adjust the lighting for example. It spoils the flow - so no I don't have any regrets.

What do you think of the song Brimful of Asha?

I've heard it many times and I like it. I'm flattered and amazed how people who don't even know me have featured me in a song - and people who didn't know of me before, now know of me through this song.

Many people around the world enjoy your music - what do you listen to?

I enjoy listening to many genres of music from light classical to western such as Shirley Bassey, Frank Sinatra, Louis Armstrong and The Beatles.

Is there anyone you'd like to duet with?

Barbara Streisand - I'd love to sing with her.

Your older sister is the equally famous playback singer Lata Mangeshkar. Has there ever been any rivalry?

Lata has a very different singing style to me - we are very different in other ways too. For example, she likes to have long hair and I like mine short. But we're very close - we have never competed with each other. There's a lot of love between us and I thoroughly enjoy singing with her.

Many of the dishes in your new restaurant originate from your own Indian recipes. Do you enjoy British food?

I've had fish and chips a number of times, but I always think it's lacking a bit of spice. The dish could do with a bit of chilli. I'd enjoy it more with a bit of chilli!

Is there a connection between singing and cooking for you?

Yes, definitely - because if you can sing well then you need to eat well, and if you eat well then you usually enjoy cooking. Cooking comes from the heart - it should be made with love, for others to enjoy, just like singing.

I sing from the heart, with love for others to enjoy. I love cooking as much as I love singing - that's why I have my signature dishes at my restaurant.

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