Asha Bhosle

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The sources of this article include…

Amita Nair, Ravikanth3 [1]

A brief biography

Sandip Pal | Asha Bhosle – 83 years of melodies, September 08, 2015, The Times of India

'Aagey bhi jaane na tu, peeche bhi jaane na tu, jo bhi hai bas yehi ek pal hai...'

Asha Bhosle was a chorus singer and was offered songs in B grade films

Asha Bhosle sang her first line in a chorus, ‘Saawan Aaya Re’, from Chunariyaa (1948) under composer Hansraj Bahal. She sang only the words, ‘Behna Khush Ho Ke Sagan Manaaye’. The other singers were Zohrabai Ambalewali and Geeta Dutt. Her first solo was, ‘Hain Mauj Mein Apne Begaane’ in the movie Raat Ki Rani (1949). Asha was always not the queen of Bollywood that she is known to be today. There was a time, when the songs of B & C grade films and those rejected by other A-list singers were being offered to her. Then what could have possibly turned Asha into a legend? Raj Kapoor and B.R Chopra, gave direction to Asha's career, which wasn't going anywhere. They offered her to sing 'Nanhe Munne Bachche Teri Muththi Mein Kya Hai' and 'Ude Jab Jab Zulfein' and soon Asha kissed popularity for the first time. Between 1947 and 1989, Asha Bhosle sang a total of 10,344 songs in various Indian languages, with 7,594 of them in Hindi. This means that over a period of forty-two years, in effect, she sang a song every thirty hours.

The much talked about Lata-Asha rift

The contrasting styles of the Lata-Asha sister duo had enough fodder to keep the gossip mills running. The cine magazines were full of fabricated news of how the Mangeshkar sisters barely get along and end up having filthy fights. However contrary to the negative publicity and gossips, the singing doyens lived on the same floor in a building in Mumbai's prestigious Peddar Road. When asked upfront regarding the rivalry between the two sisters, Asha flatly denies any rift, “There can be none like Didi. I love her songs, her voice, her style. See when I am ill, Didi is at my side and vice versa. When we meet, we don't discuss music at all but she is four years older and I touch her feet and even sometimes even press her feet, as she likes it".

The Asha-approach

Asha declined to be a second choice. She was there to create her own style, she had her own rendition, her own approach towards singing a song. This began to emerge from 1957 in films like Paying Guest, Tumsa Nahi Dekha, Howrah Bridge and Naya Daur. O.P Nayar gave her tracks with plenty of oomphs in them to make her sound very distinct from Lata's. Both Teesri Kasam and Do Badan had one song by Lata and also a song by Asha, and it is possible to distinguish the style of the two sisters to prove Asha survived honourably, not just as Lata's younger sister.

The unconventional Asha

At the fourteen Asha Bhosle, followed her heart and eloped with Ganpat Bhosle who was also the secretary to Lata Mangeshkar, to get married. She became the mother of three children; eventually it proved an impossible marriage. Her husband realising the worth of his wife's voice, set out to exploit her. Asha did something path-breakingly daring for an Indian woman of those times. She walked out. However, she did not divorce her husband and she only remarried after his death. In the intervening years she had been involved with the stubbornly individualistic Omkar Prasad Nayyar popularly called O.P Nayyar, who made a wise exploit of her potentials, an antithesis to Lata.

O.P Nayyar and Asha

After Guru Dutt happened to O.P Nayyar, he was suddenly in demand. His compositions were a rage and Lata was the reigning playback singer. But Nayyar was determined not record songs with her because according to him her voice did not suit his compositions. He zeroed in on greenhorn chanteuse Asha. During the initial period he used her voice pretty thoughtlessly, he mainly concentrated on Geeta Dutt and Shamshad Begum but from 1957, he sidelined his erstwhile favourites and showered his best on Asha. The famous Nayyar-Asha teaming up proved beneficial to both as Nayyar was lifted to an unprecedented high in 1957- 1958 with around nine releases in both years and a string of successful scores like Naya Daur (for which he won the Best Music Director Award), Tumsa Nahin Dekha, Sone Ki Chidiya, Phagun, Howrah Bridge and Ragini.

O.P Nayyar and Asha split O.P was pretty much fixated with Asha’s voice, so much so that he spurned Geeta Dutt for her who during Nayyar’s heydays had introduced him to Guru Dutt. It was the beginning of an affair and an affair is an affair is an affair. But like everything an affair too comes to an end. The 1958 Phagun season saw them come together for a spirited musical relationship- they decidedly ended the momentous musical chapter of their lives. It happened on the day when she reprimanded Nayyar who dared to raise his hand on her daughter. Asha who had enough left their posh top-floor Miramar flat and move into her Peddar road Prabhu Kunj first floor home, never to come back.

Asha and R.D Burman cook

Asha began her close association with Rahul Dev Burman fondly called Pancham da in 1966 with Teesri Manzil. The association culminated in marriage in 1980. The duo was very close to each other, more like friends. Pancham the Bengali foodie was too fond of cooking and so was she, on weekends they used to compete with each other as to whose food tasted better. This was how they relaxed. Asha who is a very good cook has a chain of restaurants in Dubai. As far as music is concerned the collaboration of this singer-composer duo created magic. How can one forget the song ‘Ajaa Ajaa Main Hu Pyaar Tera’? However, very few know that Asha had refused to sing the song because she felt the song was too difficult for her, it was R.D. who forced her to sing the song and when she did, she created the magic the song still is. Asha too reveals that they had a happy life together for 14 years till he died in 1994.

Asha’s daughter shoots herself

Varsha Bhosle, Asha’s daughter from her first marriage with Ganpatrao Bhosle committed suicide by shooting herself with a licensed gun at her Peddar road residence. Varsha had a history of depression and was being treated in Mumbai’s Jaslok hospital. Varsha reportedly had attempted suicide in 2008 by consuming barbiturates. The incident happened when Asha was in Singapore for a show. The police have said that primary investigation has brought to their notice that Varsha was suffering from severe depression after the death of noted fashion photographer Gautam Rajadakshya, who she was very close to. Rajadakshya passed away last year. Asha is still recovering from this terrible mishap.

Legendary singer Asha Bhosle spent her 82nd birthday in New York City. Lata Mangeshkar also wished her younger sister Asha Bhosle by posting a memorable image collage to which Asha Bhosle replied, "Didi's ashirvad is always with me but this time it's special since I'm far away on tour in USA & her support & guidance is invaluable."


The Times of India 8 Sep 2008 Platinum day for a precious voice

Asha's trek to stardom has been long and arduous. Hers was a double-decker dilemma. When she debuted in 'Chunariya ' (under Hansraj Behl's baton) in 1948, she found herself ranged against biggies such as Shamshad Begum, Rajkumari and Geeta Dutt. On the other hand, Lata Mangeshkar loomed large on filmdom's skyline.

Not quite good at formulating survival strategies, Asha nevertheless soldiered on, hopping from one recording studio to another. She and her husband travelled by suburban train and ate small meals at a modest Dadar restaurant named-what a 'filmi' coincidence!- 'Asha Lunch Home' . The couple rushed back to their Borivli home late in the evening to reunite with their two toddlers.

"It was a hard life. In the middle of a recording I would be suddenly gripped with a strong urge to go back to my children. But I would steel my nerves and concentrate on the song. Music gave me ecstasy and agony as well, she once told this correspondent.

Asha's repertoire is incredible. The sheer sensuality of her voice turns a ' mujra ' - cabaret number into a glass of champagne. With equal ease Asha can belt out ' Ab ke baras ' (' Bandini' ), 'Tora man darpan kahalaye' (' Kajal' ), 'Akeli hoon piya' (' Sambandh' ) and ' Dil cheez kya hai aap ' ('Umrao Jaan' ).

She combines style with technical virtuosity and impeccable tonal quality. She can embellish a classical number with thunderous ' taans ' and also giggle, groan and grunt while crooning an oomph number. From ' natya geet ' and ' nazm ' to rap and ' raag ', Asha's vocal cords glide along smoothly and with immaculate grace, weaving a web of fragile emotions.

Experts say S D Burman and O P Nayyar helped Asha come into her own in the 1950s and '60s. 'Paying Guest' , 'Munimji', 'Naya Daur', 'Howrah Bridge' and 'Bandini' catapulted her into the big league. Later, the R D Burman-Asha alliance transformed Hindi film music with 'Teesri Manzil', while 'Dum maro dum' became the theme song of the sizzling 1970s.

A decade later, Asha earned fresh laurels with Khayyam saab's timeless ghazals in 'Umrao Jaan'. 'Rangeela' too was an instant hit. Then came ' Janam samjha karo ' and 'Rahul and I', the two pop chart-busters that set Gen-Next's adrenalin pumping.

In a career spanning six decades, Asha has, according to a rough estimate, recorded nearly 12,000 songs in 14 languages. Before you say 'wow', the prima donna will be ready to cut her next album. Ageless-that's Asha for you.

Grammy nominations

In 2005 Asha Bhosle was nominated to the Best Contemporary World Music category for her album You Have Stolen My Heart: Songs from R D Burman's Bollywood.

Later Asha was nominated again for Legacy, a private album which had eleven fixed compositions in association with Ustad Ali Akbar Khan.


'Mud Mud ke na dekh, mud mud ke' . Film: Shree 420

'Dekhne me bhola hai, dil ka salona' . Film: Bambai Ka Babu

'Nazar laagi raja tore bangale pe' . Film: Kala Pani

'Kali ghata chchaye' . Film: Sujata

'Bhanwara bada nadaan hai' . Film: Sahib, Bibi Aur Ghulam

'Aaiyee meherbaan' . Film: Howrah Bridge

'Ab ke baras bhejo' . Film: Bandini

'Nigaahein milaane ko jee chahata hai' . Film: Dil Hi Toh Hai

'Jhumka gira re' . Film: Mera Saaya

'Paan khaaye sainyaa hamar' . Film: Teesri Kasam

'Chaien se hum ko kabhi' . Film: Pran Jaaye Par Vachan Na Jaaye

'Tora man darpan kehelaaye’ . Film: Kajal

'Piya tu ab toh aaja' . Film: Teesri Manzil

'Dum maro dum' . Film: Hare Rama, Hare Krishna

'Dil cheez kya hai' . Film: Umrao Jaan

'Mera kuchch saamaan' . Film: Ijaazat

'Rangeela re ... '. Film: Rangeela

'Janam samjha karo' . Film: Janam Samjha Karo

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