All those W(AK)OW moments – Asha Bhosle in concert!

Ashaji’s birthday today – so I am bumping this one up!

On the spur of the moment I made the decision to try my luck at the Flint Center where Asha Bhosle was supposed to be singing, along with Sudesh Bhosle. We rushed madly through traffic, arrived late, were told only cash could be used for ticket purchase and the ATM was out of money please! After everyone turned their wallets and pockets inside out we had enough money to get middling good seats, and walked in to see Asha ji on stage, spotlighted, in a baby blue bejewelled saree, talking of how RD Burman asked her to sing a song, which she was unsure of ever being able to do. It was for a Nasir Hussain film, and a bet was on between Nasir and RD about whether Asha or Rafi would do a better job! RD won and the song was a lusciously mad number Aaja Aaja Main Hoon Pyaar Tera with the signature hyperventilation in the mukhda. She started to sing and the clapping and dancing in the seats and out of the seats began! Magic was ON stage and I was viewing it. (Thankfully NO male accompaniment, just pure Asha magic!!). We were told to not do any video photography – so to invoke the magic of Aaja Aaja, I post here the original version from Teesri Manzil:

The concert was an amazing blend of anecdotes, outstanding music from talented and very competent musicians, some male accompaniment from Sudesh Bhosle (more on that towards the end), and Asha Asha Asha in full charismatic and flamboyant mode. She was magical, had the range, the power and that indefinable “sexiness” that made her THE voice of all the sexiest songs in the 60s and 70s!

The acoustics at the Flint Center did full justice to the magic of her vocals. But this was no staid behind the podium singer that her sister is known to be, that is when she is not wagging her finger at you in annoyance if you so much as stir from your seat! Asha was a dynamo, constantly in motion, constantly swaying, and moving to the music, and sometimes breaking into dance steps that flashed her diamond wristcuffs with dangling strings of glitter! She quipped – now that I am 76 years old, and neither in heaven nor on earth, but somewhere in between, let me dance if I want to, who cares!!! And dance she did, evoking the magic of Helen and Bindu and countless other cabaret dancers of the movies! Age sucks all of us into its maw, but I have to say that that day watching Asha ji dance as she sang was a sublime experience, nothing short of magical!

She sang most of her iconic songs, to cheers and claps and sing-alongs and encores! She mentioned that her audience included those who had bunked school and college to see her films (and were now in their 40s and 50s) and those who simply had listened much much later! That described the demographic at the concert rather well. The songs included Chura Liya Hai, Ek Main Aur Ek Tu, and the first half ended with O Haseena Zulfon Wali – sung to a crowd that was mostly on its feet in nostalgia and ecstasy!

After a break Asha ji came back, this time in a stark black Sari, glittering in the spotlights! She recounted how she and Kishore Da prepared for singing Jaane Jaan, she gleeful as she had sung it before in Bangla, he glum and struggling with the notes! Then there was Dum Maro Dum, and the classic WAKOW song. Sudesh Bhosle displayed his excelle mimicry talents by singing all the male voices in Hum Kisi se Kum Nahin – RD Burman, Rafi and Kishore, and then Asha ji chimed in and danced away in the number. The concert rightfully closed with Piya Tu Ab to Aaja from Caravan.

Trolling Youtube I did find one video from this same concert in Phoenix, a short clip, but it give a flavor of the concert, the magic, the moments.

I was also able to find this wonderful interview with Riz Khan – Asha ji is not an English speaker, but watch this for the charm and flow in the conversation, no self-consciousness, just magic and memories.

I felt very fortunate to have seen this living legend, and not flagging and dulled like some faded star, but truly a shining talent. Thank you Asha ji for reviving so many memories, and for giving me so many new ones of your indomitable spirit and puckish charm.

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