Mumbai: From the time she sang `Ghar jayegi tar jayegi doliyaan chadh jayegi` for Gulzar in `Khushboo`, Asha Bhosle has shared a very special rapport with her Gulzar bhai who has been named for the coveted Dadasaheb Phalke Award. She feels it has gone to the "very deserving artist".
"When I see how far he has come in his life, I feel happy. The Dadasaheb Phalke Award honours a very deserving artiste this year," she said expressing great joy at Gulzar`s latest recognition.
"As I speak to you, I remember all the beautiful songs Gulzar bhai has written for me - `Mera kuch samaan` in `Ijaazat`, `Yeh saaye hain` in `Sitara`, `Phir se aiyo badra bidesi` in `Namkeen` and all those fabulous songs in the non-film album `Dil Padosi Hai`. Sachchi, yeh bade khaas kalaakar hain," she added.
Gulzar, Asha and her late husband and composer R.D. Burman, fondly called Pancham, formed a formidable team.
"Our team - Pancham, Gulzar bhai and I - was unbeatable.
Together we created some great songs. Don`t ask me to name my favourites. I love every song that I did with Pancham and Gulzar bhai," she said.
Asha says she was instrumental in bringing Gulzar and Pancham together.
"If I hadn`t intervened, I wonder if these two compatible creative giants would have ever found one another! Neither of them is the kind who would have reached out on their own.
"Don`t ask me why. But I instinctively felt Pancham and Gulzar bhai were meant to make music together. Long before they created that song for Lata didi, `Sili hawa choo gayee` in `Libaas`, I could hear that tune coming from Pancham and I could see Gulzar bhai finding the right words for that beautiful composition.
"The three of us would think together about a song even before it was created."
Besides music, what bound Ashaji to Pancham and Gulzar was food.
"You know I love to cook. And the two of them loved to eat. So it suited us fine. Gulzar bhai loves my `karela gosht` and my Bengali kheer."
"Not that there were no disputes. There were arguments, yes. But not between Gulzar bhai and Pancham. They`d never have serious disputes. Jhagde hotey tthey mere saath (they`d squabble with me). But it would always come out right at the end because I had the deadly combination of `khaana and gaana` on my side," she said.
The enchanting songstress recalls a historic interview that she participated in with Gulzar and Pancham.
"I remember they arrived together looking serious, solemn and worried. I rushed to the venue and immediately started talking incessantly. Gulzar saab laughed and said, `Asha hansi lekar aati hai jahaan bhi jaati hai.` I love to spread happiness among people."
"Maine bahut taqleef dekhi hain (I have been through difficult times). But the pain is all mine. The laughter is for others. I think Gulzar saab and Pancham enjoyed my company not just because I sang their songs, but also because I made them happy with my food and laughter.
"Gulzar saab and Pancham always liked my never-say-die spirit. Even today I am singing for films, though don`t ask me where and for whom. I just sing and come home. I am also doing live concerts. Even as we speak I am packing to leave for Kolkata for a concert."
Suddenly the spirited singer realises she has so far only spoken of Gulzar in tandem with Pancham.
"That`s because both are so connected in my mind. However, I met Gulzar bhai for the first time when I recorded a song for composer Vasant Desai. He was present at the recording. He was so quiet and unobtrusive. That hasn`t changed. Gulzar bhai likes to make his presence felt quietly," she said.