The magnificent voice behind evergreen songs like Aaja aaja main hoon pyaar tera, O mere sona re sona re, and Yeh mera dil– Asha Bhosle has turned 87 this year.
Asha Bhosle, a legendary career
Asha ji’s career began in 1943 and spanned over seven decades. She has done playback singing for over a thousand Bollywood movies and in addition to that, she has also recorded several private albums and participated in numerous solo concerts in India and abroad.
In 2006, Asha ji said she had sung over 12,000 songs, a figure repeated by several other sources. In 2011, she was officially acknowledged by the Guinness Book of World Records as the most recorded artist in music history.
The government of India honoured her with the Dadasaheb Phalke Award in 2000 and the Padma Vibhushan in 2008.
Asha Bhosle has sung in more than 20 languages. Her works include film music, ghazals, bhajans, traditional Indian classical music, folk songs, qawwalis and Rabindra Sangeet.
Early Life of Asha Bhosle
Asha Bhosle was born in the small hamlet of Goar in Sangli, then in the salute princely state of Sangli, which is now situated in Maharashtra. She was born into the musical family of Deenanath Mangeshkar, who was Marathi a and his Gujarati wife, Shevanti.
Asha ji’s father was an actor and a classical singer on Marathi musical stage. Her father died when she was barely 9 years old.
The family then moved from Pune to Kolhapur and then settled in Mumbai.
Asha Ji and her elder sister Lata Mangeshkar began singing and acting in films to support their family.
She sang her first film song Chala Chala Nav Bala for the Marathi film Majha Bal.
The music for the film was composed by Datta Davjekar.
She made her Hindi film debut when she sang the song Saawan Aaya for Hansraj Behl’s Chunariya (1948). Her first solo Hindi film song was for the movie Raat Ki Raani (1949).
At the age of 16, she eloped with 31-year-old Ganpatrao Bhosle.
Career of Asha Bhosle
While the early 1960s prominent playback singers like Geeta Dutt, Shamshad Begum, and Lata Mangeshkar dominated over the singing industry for the female lead and the big films, Asha used to get the assignments they refused: singing for the bad girls and vamps, or songs in the second-grade movies.
In the 1950s, she had sung more songs than most of the playback singers in Bollywood, most of which were low budget films.
Her earliest songs were composed by A.R. Qureshi, Sajjad Hussain, and Ghulam Mohammed, and most of these songs failed to cast an impression.
After singing in Sangdil released in 1952, composed by Sajjad Hussain, she received noticeable recognition.
Consequently, film director Bimal Roy gave her a chance to sing in Parineeta (1953).
Raj Kapoor signed her to sing Nanhe Munne Bachche with Mohammed Rafi in Boot Polish (1954), which gained huge popularity.
In 1956, O.P. Nayyar gave Asha a break in CID.
She first achieved success in B.R. Chopra’s Naya Daur in 1957.
Her duets with Rafi like Maang Ke Saath Tumhara, Saathi Haath Badhana and Uden Jab Jab Zulfein Teri, penned by Sahir Ludhianvi, earned her profound recognition.
It was for the first time that she had sung all the songs for the film’s leading actress.
Chopra approached her for several of his later productions, including Gumrah (1963), Waqt (1965), Hamraaz (1965), Aadmi Aur Insaan (1966) and Dhund (1973).
Gradually, she established herself and received the patronage of composers like Sachin Dev Burman and Ravi. Asha ji and Nayyar had a professional and personal parting of ways in the 1970s.
In 1966, Asha Bhosle’s performances in the duets from one of music director R.D. Burman’s first soundtracks, for the movie Teesri Manzil, was well-acclaimed. Reportedly, when she first heard the dance number Aaja Aaja, she felt she would not be able to sing this westernised tune.
While Burman offered to change the music, she refused, taking it as a challenge.
She completed the song after 10 days of rehearsals, and Aaja Aaja, along with such other songs like O Haseena Zulfonwali and O Mere Sona Re, became a hit.
Shammi Kapoor, the film’s leading actor, was once quoted as saying–
Bhosle’s collaboration with Burman resulted in numerous hits and a marriage.
During the 1960-70s, she was the voice of Bollywood’s actress and dancer, Helen, on whom O Haseena Zulfonwali was picturised.
It is said that Helen would attend her recording sessions so that she could understand the song better and plan dance steps accordingly.
By the 1980s, Bhosle, although highly regarded for her timber and versatility, had sometimes been stereotyped as a “cabaret singer” and a “pop crooner”.
In 1981 she attempted a different genre by singing several ghazals for the Rekha-starrer Umrao Jaan, including Dil Cheez Kya Hai, In Aankhon Ki Masti Ke, Yeh Kya Jagah Hai Doston and Justaju Jiski Thi.
The film’s music director Khayyam, had lowered her pitch by half a note. Bhosle herself expressed surprise that she could sing so differently.
The ghazals won her the first National Film Award of her career.
A few years later, she won another National Award for the song Mera Kuchh Saamaan from Ijaazat (1987).
In 1995, 62-year-old Bhosle sang for actress Urmila Matondkar in the movie Rangeela.
The soundtrack featured songs like Tanha Tanha and Rangeela Re sung by her, and composed by music director A.R. Rahman, who would go on to record several songs with her.
During the 2000s, several of Bhosle’s numbers became chartbusters, including Radha Kaise Na Jale from Lagaan (2001), Kambakht Ishq from Pyaar Tune Kya Kiya (2001), Yeh Lamha from Filhaal (2002) and Lucky Lips from Lucky (2005).
In 2012, she was approached to be one of the jury members of a singing reality show Sur Kshetra.
In 2013, Bhosle debuted in the film Mai in the title role, at the age of 79. Bhosle played the role of a 65-year-old mother who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease and is abandoned by her children.
15 evergreen songs of Asha Bhosle
• Mud Mud ke na Dekh (1955)
The soundtrack is from the movie Shree 420 which was released in the year 1955. Along with Asha Bhosle, Manna Dey and Shailendra have lent their voices for this beautiful soundtrack. The song continues to rule over people’s hearts and minds till date.
• Aao Huzur Tumko (1968)
The song became very popular upon its release. It was written by a lesser known lyricist, Noor Devasi and is considered to be one of the top five songs sung by Asha Bhosle. It was one of the songs selected for Shaan-e-Pakistan function celebrating Indian and Pakistani cultures in Delhi during 10 and 12 September 2015.
• Yeh Mera Dil (1978)
Kishore Kumar and Asha Bhosle received Filmfare awards for the tracks Khaike Pan Banaraswala and Yeh Mera Dil respectively. The beautiful soundtrack is from the movie Don which was released in 1978, starring Amitabh Bachchan and Zeenat Aman in lead roles.
• Abhi Na Jao (1961)
This beautiful track from the movie Hum Dono was sung by Asha Bhosle and Mohammad Rafi in the year 1961. The song is an evergreen hit and is counted among one of the most beautiful classics of all time.
• In Ankhon Ki Masti Ke (1981)
From the Indian film Umrao Jaan (1981), the music to this song is sung by Asha Bhosle. This ghazal became very popular and Asha Bhosle won the National Film Award for Best Female Playback Singer for the movie. In 2017, it was selected as the best song ever picturised on actor Farooq Sheikh by The Times of India.
• Haal Kaisa Hai Janaab Ka (1958)
This beautiful evergreen song sung by Asha Bhosle is from the popular Indian Comedy Film Chalti ka Naam Gaadi. The music is composed by SD Burman and his son, RD Burman is the assistant music composer, with lyrics by Majrooh Sultanpuri.
• Chura Liya Hai Tumne Jo Dil Ko (1973)
The evergreen track has also been voiced by two of the most iconic male singers including Mohammed Rafi and RD Burman. The lyrics of the romantic track have been written by Majrooh Sultanpuri and RD Burman.
• Aaiye Meherbaan (1958)
The most popular song of the album was Aaiye Meherbaan, which was picturised on Madhubala in the movie Howrah Bridge. The song is constantly referred to as “Evergreen” and “One of the Best” songs of Asha Bhosle and Madhubala collaboration.
The Print had reviewed the soundtrack and called it “melodious and beautiful”. Moreover, it said that “Aaiye Meherbaan” is a showstopper and praised Bhosle’s style of singing.
• Tu, Tu Hai Vahi (1982)
The song is a part of 1982 film Yeh Vaada Raha starring Rishi Kapoor, Poonam Dhillon and Tina Munim in lead roles. The song is a duet, and Kishore Kumar has sung the other part of the track. The evergreen track’s music director is RD Burman.
• Paan Khaaye Saiyan (1966)
This song is a popular retro classic sung by Shailendra and Asha Bhosle for the movie Teesri Kasam which was released in 1966.
• Aaja Aaja (1966)
This is another popular retro classic sung by Mohammad Rafi and Asha Bhosle for the movie Teesri Manzil in the year 1966, which was composed by RD Burman.
• Raat Akeli Hai (1967)
The song Raat Akeli Hai, picturised on Dev Anand and Tanuja, was re-used in 2011 Bollywood horror film Ragini MMS by Ekta Kapoor. The beautiful track continues to reign over the music industry till date.
• Parde mein rehne de (1968)
Asha Bhosle won the Filmfare award for best Female Playback singer, for the Arabic tuned song Parde Mein Rehne do, from the movie Shikar.
• Zara Sa Jhoom Loon (1995)
The track is a part of Kajol and Shah Rukh Khan-starrer Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge. The song too features the leading couple. The lyrics of the groovy number have been written by Anand Bakshi while the music has been given by Jatin and Lalit Pandit. The male voice in the track is by Abhijeet Bhattacharya.
• Dum Maro Dum (1971)
The song was a hit in the 1970s, and gained cult status in India, becoming an instant hit among the youth. The song topped the Binaca Geetmala annual list 1972. Asha Bhosle won the best female playback award by Filmfare for this amazing track.