|Usha Uthup in conversation with Renu Roy at Roxy
It was a trip down memory lane for Cha-Cha-Cha queen Usha Uthup as she chatted about her musical journey at Roxy at a talk show put together by Spandan and The Park on Friday. The highlights:
1. Usha used to make Rs 1,500 a month in her early days at Trincas! “When I landed in Calcutta from Mumbai in 1969, I felt as if I had come to another country. It made me realise how sheltered a life I had in Mumbai,” she told Renu Roy, executive director of Spandan and moderator of the talk show.
2. Usha met husband Jani Uthup at Trincas. He was in the audience while she was performing. Her house in Kochi is now called Trincas!
3. She sings in 17 languages but is not trained in music. Her voice “was not regarded fit for Indian heroines” by the music industry. “I was told several times that my voice was not meant for films. It suited only ‘vamps’! But I made my limitations my strength.”
4. Over sips of coffee, the singer reminisced the time when she shared screen space with Malayali actor Mammootty. “This was before Bombay to Goa. I love acting and would love to act more,” she said. 5. Usha holds an honorary citizenship of Kenya, given to her by then president Jomo Kenyatta — she was popular in Nairobi during the late 1960s for her songs in Swahili.
6. A “people’s singer”, Usha has no regrets after 43 years in the industry. “I do not venture into something I cannot do. I cannot sing ghazals, hence I do not try. I am only too grateful for whatever has come my way so far,” signed off Calcutta’s darling before she broke into Darling (7 Khoon Maaf) and drew the guests to the floor!
“I really wanted to know more about Ushadi. For instance, how did her parents react to her singing in the nightclubs,” said Jaya Seal Ghosh, as she took a break from dancing with Richa Sharma.
“Life is all about experiences and being grateful to God. This is just what Ushadi’s story is all about too,” said Koneenica Banerjee.
“I have known Usha for many years. It is her personality that makes her so unique,” said Barun Chanda.