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Updated: March 17, 2012 03:50 IST

Proust Questionnaire: Usha Uthup - 'I have made my own mottos in life'

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The Hindu

The Proust Questionnaire is a fortnightly feature that alternates with the Saturday Interview. These questions were most famously answered by the French writer Marcel Proust whose personality-revealing responses came to define this form of celebrity confession. This questionnaire was administered by Priyadershini S.

What is your idea of happiness?

That's a huge question covering a vast portion of the universe. In one word, it is love. But in a sentence: to hear my grandchildren's voices on the telephone.

What is your greatest fear?

I am scared of everything — of the dark, of water, flying, ill-health of my loved ones….

Which historical figure do you most identify with?

Gandhiji because of ahimsa and his capacity to prioritise, notwithstanding public opinion.

What is the trait you deplore most in yourself?

Being too possessive. I am learning how to be detached. I hate myself for being so possessive, not of material things, but just of love and people.

What is the trait you deplore most in others?

Dishonesty, artificiality and double standards.

What is your greatest extravagance?

Buying things for my family. I have no material desires. I have lived a lot more janams. I came to this stage a long time ago. If somebody wants something I ask them to take it….leh lo, leh lo…dil mera leh lo… mein layein hu nazrana pyaar ka… (Take, take…take my heart…I've brought the gift of love…)

Who is your favourite painter?

Anando from Kolkata, but my all-time favourites are Michelangelo and Vincent van Gogh. I may be biased because I have read their stories.

What do you consider the most overrated virtue?

Fidelity is an overrated virtue. I feel so because people hardly follow it and so it becomes overrated.

On what occasion do you lie?

When it is the lesser of two evils.

What do you dislike most about your appearance?

So many things. I hate my nose. I hate it…my finger nails…see this.

Which living person do you most despise?

I don't despise anyone. Why should I?

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

Wonderful, amazing … I am a compulsive optimist.

What is your greatest regret?

I don't have many regrets. I regret that there is no connection between the action of your loved one and the pain you inflict on yourself as a consequence…

What or who is the greatest love of your life?

My grandchildren. Totally. They have changed my whole life. I have learnt so much honesty from them.

When and where were you happiest?

Now. I am happiest now. ‘Where' is immaterial. You learn to make your home wherever you are.

What is your present state of mind?

Exhilarated that I won the Filmfare Award.

How would you like to die?

I want to die singing on the stage or in my sleep.

What is your favourite journey?

To Kochi to see my grandchildren, and on my way to an exciting show.

What is your favourite motto?

It's a very old one: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. I have made my own mottos and philosophies in life. As long as you are not hurting anybody, it's okay.

Usha Uthup is the swinging, singing grand dame of Indian pop music, having introduced the genre with her unforgettable English numbers such as ‘Jambalaya'. It was the iconic song ‘Dum Maro Dum' for the Hindi film “Hare Rama Hare Krishna” that turned her into a celebrity. She sings in over 16 Indian languages and several foreign languages. Her trademark bindis, bangles and Kanjeevarams have made her a style icon. She was made Honorary Citizen of Kenya by President Jomo Kenyatta for singing the popular number ‘Malaika' in Swahili. She received the Padma Shri in 2010-2011.

there are two versions of dum maro dum and she sang one. and in the hindi one she sang the english parts. there were politics in bollowood then as well to know all the truths on this song u would need another interview.

from:  anjali
Posted on: Mar 18, 2012 at 11:13 IST

She sure has an awesome singing voice and I am so glad I found this questionaire. She sings with such passion that you wish she was singing about your life.

from:  vidhi sanwal
Posted on: Mar 17, 2012 at 20:41 IST

I've always admired Ushaji's dressing style, singing and the personality which is very unique. I wonder why our South Indian channels have not made an attempt to make a show with her or make a tribute to her, even though they invite her to judge several kids music shows! She deserves much more to have entertained us all over the decades.

from:  Rama
Posted on: Mar 17, 2012 at 16:45 IST

I first saw Usha Iyer (now Usha Utup) when she was performing English songs at Savera Hotel at Royapettah, Chennai (then Madras) in 1968! I hope she remembers this as a debut into the modernestic English songs inging world. She used ti belt a lot of English songs of the then contemporary English singers like Cliff Richard, Elvis etc. rendered in her own Usha style. Yes, lot of people (including the writer) were given to understand that the Dum Maro Dum song in the late Dev Anand Saheb's movie 'Hare Rama Hare Krishna' was sung by Usha Iyer (Utup). But actually she did sing the same same song at various stage shows in UAE and other ME countries so well, that people think she really sang the original song in 'Hare Rama Hare Krishna' Ireally enjoy her singing voice even now after almost 40 years!! Keep on singing Usha Benji!!

from:  Vijay Prabhu
Posted on: Mar 17, 2012 at 01:16 IST

Kudos on publishing this! This lady is one of my all time favourite celebrities, and second to none! The love for her art and her life comes through in her performance and I am always mesmerized by her life energy. May we get to see a lot more of the one and only Usha Uthup!

from:  B S Kumar
Posted on: Mar 16, 2012 at 22:41 IST

I used to see all Usha's programme in the TV when my wife used to ask me "What do you like in her ?" I likr her presentation, courage,dress and her voice and eyes, so too her willingness to be with one and all. Great Usha. Incidentally I am 79 now but still admire Usha

from:  Mani Iyer
Posted on: Mar 16, 2012 at 19:02 IST

In the concluding paragraph it has been mentioned that Usha Uthup became famous by singing "Dum Maro Dum", whereas it was an iconic number sung by the great Asha Bhonsle.I am sad that such a well known fact was misquoted.Usha Uthup has many lovely songs to her credit like 'Ramba Ho;, which have not been mentioned.

from:  Aruna Chakraborty
Posted on: Mar 16, 2012 at 17:58 IST
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