Hooray for Bollywood

Is “The Enchantress” bigger than The Beatles?

Pity us Westerners. For all the culture and entertainment we export (and expect world markets to gobble up), we’re remarkably reluctant to recognize the appeal of artists who’ve touched audiences far bigger than our own. Case in point: Asha Bhosle, the Indian singer who is beloved throughout south Asia and likely is bigger on a worldwide scale than even that gold standard of Western pop culture, The Beatles. Simply put, the 74-year-old “golden voice of Bollywood” is a living legend. Opportunities to catch such legends live are rare, but lucky for us, Bhosle performs at the Orpheum Theatre in one of just three shows scheduled in the United States.

The numbers that illustrate her career are immense: more than 12,000 songs recorded, sung in 14 different languages and in numerous genres, and vocal appearances as a “playback singer” in more than 950 Bollywood productions. “The Enchantress” hasn’t gone completely unnoticed in the West, though. She’s collaborated with the likes of Michael Stipe, Boy George, and the Kronos Quartet, and has been sampled by Black Eyed Peas, Nellie Furtado, and Sarah Brightman.


Sat., April 26, 7 p.m., 2008
 
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