Today we look into the life of the legendary Asha Bhosle.
Asha Bhosle was born on 8th of September, 1933 in a Marathi family. Her father was the renowned singer and actor Dinanath Mangeshkar. He trained her in classical music at a very young age. Though she had her brush with acting as a child artist, it was quite natural for her to choose playback singing like her older sister Lata Mangeshkar. Sadly, her father suddenly passed away in the year 1942 causing turmoil in her family. They had to move from Pune to Bombay and settle again. Asha got the chance to sing in a Marathi film when she was ten years old. Her initial years saw a lot of struggle since her elder sister Lata was in much demand and unfair comparisons rose every now and then.
In the year 1948 she got to make her playback debut in Hindi in a film called Chunariya. The song was called “Saawan Aaya” and Asha was noticed for her different playful voice. When she was 16, she eloped with Lata’s personal secretary Ganpatrao Bhosle and married him much against the family’s wishes. The marriage failed miserably and Asha Bhosle was driven out by Ganpatrao following some misunderstanding. She came back to her maternal home with two kids and pregnant with the third one. However, this did not deter her from pursuing her dreams and she continued to sing for films. During 1950’s she got assignments that were rejected by leading singers like Geeta Dutt, Lata Mangeshkar and Shamshad Begum.
These songs were basically meant for the sidelined roles like cabaret numbers or C-grade movies. It took a lot of perseverance from Asha to make it to the top. Her hard work and efforts paid off when she was given her first big break with the movie C.I.D (1956). Under the patronage of O.P Nayyar she got more and more offers and began belting out hits after hits. She tasted huge success with the movie Naya Daur (1957). With O. P Nayyar, Asha gave out hits after hits like Aaiye Meherban, Deewana Hua Badal, Isharon Isharon Mein, Aao Huzur Tumko, Ude Jab Jab Zulfein Teri, etc. The last song she recorded with him was “Chain Se” of the movie “Pran Jaaye Par Vachan Na Jaaye” (1974) and then parted ways.
She was noticed by other music directors like S.D Burman after the phenomenal success of these songs. She and S.D Burman created many hit soundtracks for movies like Kaala Pani, Kaala Bazaar, Insaan Jaag Utha, Lajwanti, Sujata and Teen Deviyaan. Most famous of these songs were Asha Bhosle’s duets with Mohammed Rafi and Kishore Kumar. After the mid 60’s Asha collaborated with R.D Burman and reached the peak of her career. The movie “Teesri Manzil” released in 1966 shot her to fame and she won popular acclaim. The duo of Asha and R.D Burman produced hits after hits and their collaboration resulted in marriage.
Asha became the voice of Helen, one of the most graceful dancers of that era. Helen would visit Asha during her recordings to understand the feel of the song and choreograph her steps accordingly. Some of her evergreen hits featuring Helen are Piya Tu Ab To Aaja (Caravan), O Haseena Zulfon Wali (Teesri Manzil), and Yeh Mera Dil (Don). A popular song “Jaane Jaa” from the movie Jawaani Diwaani (1972) required her to switch from high pitch to low almost simultaneously which she did with utmost ease and perfection. The song “Dum Maro Dum” of the movie “Hare Rama Hare Krishna” showed an entirely new side of her talent. The romantic “Chura Liya Hai Tumne” from the movie “Yaadon Ki Baarat” is hummed even today and is considered to be one of the most romantic songs of this century.
Asha proved critics wrong in 1980’s when she sang beautiful Ghazals for the movie Umrao Jaan. She proved that she can sing classical with as much panache as other genres. The great composer Khayyam told her to sing two notes lower than usual. The rest as they say is history! The songs turned out to be chart toppers and till date are sung with much elegance and respect. In the 90’s she experimented with peppy numbers and produced hits like Tanha Tanha, Yaire, Kambakth Ishq, Chori Pe Chori. She also has a number of pop albums to her credit and has acquired international by singing with artists like Boy George, Black Eyed Peas and cricketer Brett Lee. She has many awards including eight Filmfare awards and two National Awards apart from numerous other accolades.