Expressing great joy at Gulzar Saab's latest recognition, Ashaji said, "Our team– Pancham, Gulzar Bhai and I– was unbeatable. Together we created some great songs. Don't ask me to name my favourities. I love every song that I did with Pancham and Gulzar Bhai."
Ashaji says she was instrumental in bringing Gulzar Saab and R D Burman 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. Aisa ttha hamara tuning. 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. Main khana banaati, who donon khaate…Main khush who donon bhi khush. Gulzar Bhai loves my karela ghosht 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."
Suddenly the spirited singer realizes she has so far only spoken of Gulzar Saab 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. When I see how far he has come in his life I feel happy. The Dada Saheb Phalke award honours a very deserving artiste this year. 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."