Asha Bhosle is set to make music history when she performs on stage with Dr KJ Yesudas and SP Balasubramaniam at a concert in Dubai. It will be the first time all three legends of the Indian music world will appear in a show together. The event, called Salaam India, takes place on January 25 at Dubai Tennis Stadium and is being held to celebrate 60 years of India’s independence. Emirates Business spoke to the singing star about her investments and career.
Last year was not very good for Indian music industry sales. How can this be rectified in 2008?
—Musicians need to study the pulse of the market, listen to what people want to hear and then produce music accordingly. The drop in music sales can be blamed on artists trying to cover every genre, rather than creating a niche. There is an audience for every type of music from Indian classical to popular Hindi. When albums were flopping left right and centre, my album Kabhi To Nazar Milao with Adnan Sami had historical sales.
So when musicians and record companies complain about poor sales, they should look within themselves and see what they are doing wrong.
How did the idea of teaming up with international celebrities come up?
—I like a challenge. Singing with musicians from different countries is something I enjoy a lot. Recently, I sang with Australian cricketer Brett Lee. He has his own music group, plays the guitar and composes songs. So, besides being a fast bowler, he has music in him and he is very passionate about music. Working with him was a lot of fun.
What do you think about music piracy in India. Have you been a victim of it?
—Unfortunately, there are not enough laws to protect musicians from piracy and even if there are laws, they are not being implemented. Piracy is killing music and if it continues we will be facing a major drought in the world of Indian music.
As well as being a singer, you also have a number of other business interests, tell us about those.
—I own Asha’s Indian restaurants and we have a presence in the UAE, Kuwait and the United Kingdom. This year we will be opening restaurants in Abu Dhabi, Qatar, Bahrain, and Leeds and Newcastle in the UK. We will also be opening another branch in Dubai. Negotiations are currently ongoing with a partner in the United States. It’s all very exciting.
How did the idea of opening Asha’s come about?
—Besides music, the other thing that I’m passionate about is cooking. So, it was logical that this would be my business.
Over the years you have made a lot of money. Are you planning to invest on The Palm or The World like other international celebrities?
—I have a fair amount of property in India. I believe in investing in commercial property. I don’t think buying residential properties all over the world is a good idea. They are expensive to maintain and how many times will I go and enjoy them? I have a busy schedule that keeps me in Mumbai most of the time and when I travel for concerts I end up staying in hotels, which is far more convenient.
Commercial property takes care of itself, it’s easier to rent out and gives a steady income. I believe a house is a home and should not be treated as an investment.
Like Paul Newman who has his own range of sauces and Shah Rukh Khan who has his own signature perfume, do you plan to put your face to a product?
—The face is only a way of getting your product recognised and it’s a great marketing tool, but in the long run the product should become more important than the face. With Asha’s I’m trying to do exactly that by opening more venues.
What’s your weakness when it comes to spending your earnings?
—Diamonds are a girl’s best friend.
Are there any new albums or projects in the pipeline?
—An album with Aamir Ghulam Ali is being released. His father Ghulam Ali and I have come together after a gap of 20 years for this album. Aamir is a fine composer and musician and I have high hopes for this album. Aamir is a fine composer and musician and I have high hopes for this album. I hope he finds success like his father.
Asha Bhosle, 75, is regarded as the quintessential Indian diva. In a career that spans more than six decades, she has recorded more than 13,000 songs for nearly 950 films, many of which have become cult classics.
She has collaborated with several international artists and in 1997 she became the first Indian to be nominated for a Grammy.
Asha is also an astute businesswoman. Not only has she reinvented herself over the years to ensure she is never out of business, she has also turned her passion for food and cooking into a successful chain of Indian restaurants called Asha’s. Currently she runs restaurants in Dubai and Kuwait and there are plans for 40 new restaurants over the next five years. (Supplied by OME Middle East)
Combining two passions is a recipe for success