The famous playback singer, Asha Bhonsle has sung over 20,000 songs in practically every Indian language and also in English. She has a unique style of singing. Asha Bhosle is an Indian singer. She is best known as a Bollywood playback singer, although she has a much wider repertoire. Her career started in 1943 and has spanned over six decades. She has done playback singing for over 925 Bollywood movies and sold many records. She is the sister of the equally popular Lata Mangeshkar.
Asha was born on 8th September, 1933 in Goar, Maharastra to a family of musicians, the Mangeshkar's. Asha started her career in her elder sister Lata Mangeshkar's shadow. Her first song was from the movie 'Chunaria' (1948) and her first solo was for the movie 'Raat Ki Raani' (1949).
In the beginning her talents were not known much and it was music directors like O.P. Nayyar and R.D. Burman who gave her a chance and helped Asha to get out of the image of her sister. 'Teesri Manzil', 'Ijazat', 'Khushboo' with R.D.Burman; 'Mere Sanam', 'Kashmir Ki Kali', 'Ek Musafir Ek Haseena', 'Pran Jaye Par Vachan Na Jaye' and many others with O.P.Nayyar, Asha has given a lot of unforgettable songs to the Hindi film industry for the last four decades. She has a unique voice- a sexy, cheerful style of singing of her own. Famous hits like 'Piya tu', 'Dum Maro Dum' are a proof of her unique style.
She is at ease with both ghazals as well as fast numbers. She has sung Qawali numbers like 'Nighan Mila Ne Ko Jee Chahta Hai', 'Raaj Ki Baat Kahdu To' and 'Hum Kisise Kum Nahin'; Bhajan, 'Sun Le Pukar'; Gazal, 'Is Akhon Ki Masti Ke'.
Asha has received accolades of awards for her talent. - National Award twice in 1981 for 'Dil Cheez Kya Hain' (Umrao Jaan) and in 1986 - for 'Mera Kuch Samaan' (Ijazat), the Filmfare award eight times, from 1967 to 1977 besides many other awards. She was the first Indian Singer to be nominated for the Grammy Award in 1997 and in 2001 she won the Dada Phalke Award and Dayawati Modi Award.
Asha Bhosle is considered as one of the most versatile of South Asian singers — her range of songs includes film music, pop, ghazals, bhajans, traditional Indian Classical music, folk songs, qawwalis, and Rabindra Sangeet. She has sung in over 14 languages including Hindi, Marathi, Bengali, Gujarati, Punjabi, Tamil, English, Russian and Malay.
Asha Bhosle was born in the small hamlet of Goar in Sangli, Maharashtra, into the musical Marathi family of Pandit Dinanath Mangeshkar. Her father was a theater actor and classical singer who had been born in the village of Mangeshi in Goa. When she was nine years old, her father died. The family moved from Pune to Kolhapur and then to Bombay. She 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 movie Majha Bal (1943). The music for the film was composed by Datta Dawjekar. She made her Hindi film debut when she sang the song Saawan aaya for Hansraj Behl's Chunariya (1948).
At the age of 16, she eloped with 31-year old Ganpatrao Bhosle, marrying him against her family's wishes. The marriage failed miserably. Her husband and in-laws mistreated her. After a few years of marriage, Bhosle returned to her maternal home with two children and pregnant with her third child, Anand. She continued to sing in films to earn money.
At that time, prominent playback singers like Geeta Dutt, Shamshad Begum and Lata Mangeshkar (her sister) monopolized the singing for the "heroine" roles and the big films. Asha Bhosle used to get the assignments they didn't take: singing for the bad girls and vamps, or songs in the second-grade movies. In the 1950s, she sang more songs than any other playback singer in Bollywood, but most of these were in B or C-grade films. Her earliest songs were composed by A R Qureshi, Sajjad Hussain and Ghulam Mohammed, but none of these were hits. Her songs in Dilip Kumar-starrer Sangdil (1952), composed by Sajjad Hussain, got here some recognition. Bimal Roy gave her a chance to sing in Parineeta (1953). Raj Kapoor also gave her chance to sing Nanhe munne bachche with Mohammed Rafi in Boot Polish (1954), which became very popular.
She also sang many songs for Marathi films such as Majha hoshil Kaa?, Khedyamadhle ghar kaularu, bugadi mazi and Nach re mora which are considered classics today. She also sang many Marathi bhajans, natyageet and bhav-geet in this period which are popular in Maharashtra to this day.
O. P. Nayyar gave Asha Bhosle a big break in C.I.D. (1956). She first achieved success in B. R. Chopra's Naya Daur (1957), composed by O. P. Nayyar. O. P Nayyar and Asha Bhosle's collaboration produced many hits. Later, she also received patronage of composers such as Sachin Dev Burman and Ravi. O P Nayyar and Asha Bhosle had a professional and personal parting of the ways in the 1970s.
In 1966, Asha's performance in the duets from music director R D Burman's first successful movie, Teesri Manzil won popular acclaim. Their collaboration produced several hits in the 1970s and resulted in a marriage. In 1960s and 1970s, she became the voice of Bollywood's most famous dancer, Helen. It is said that Helen would attend her recording sessions so that she could understand the song better and plan dance steps accordingly. Some of the most popular Asha Bhosle-Helen numbers are Piya tu ab to aaja (Caravan), O Haseena Zulfon Wali (Teesri Manzil), and Yeh Mera Dil (Don).
In Umrao Jaan (1981) and Ijazat (1987), she sang beautiful traditional ghazals and proved her versatility.
Her film activities slowed in the 1990s. Her performance in the 1994 hit Rangeela was particularly notable. As late as 2005, 72-year-old Asha Bhosle's numbers for the Tamil film Chandramukhi and Lucky Lips for Salman Khan-starrer Lucky were chartbusters.
Seen more closely, Asha Bhosle's singing career can be considered having four milestones — Naya Daur (1957), Teesri Manzil (1966), Umrao Jaan (1981) and Rangeela (1995).
• Naya Daur, 1957
Asha Bhosle's first big success was B R Chopra's Naya Daur ("The New Age", 1957). Her duets with Rafi like Maang ke saath tumhara, Saathi haath badhana and Uden jab jab zulfein teri, penned by Sahir Ludhianvi and composed by O P Nayyar, gave her recognition. Asha and O P Nayyar had worked earlier as well. But it was the first time that she had got to sing all the songs for the lead actress. B R Chopra, the producer of Naya Daur recognized her talent and got her to sing in many of his later films including Waqt and Gumraah, Humraaz, Aadmi Aur Insaan, Dhund etc.
• Teesri Manzil, 1966
Asha Bhosle became a pop crooner with Rahul Dev Burman's Teesri Manzil (1966). When she first listened to the tune of the song Aaja Aaja, she felt that she would not be able to sing the Western dance number. R D Burman offered to change the music. She was offended a bit and took it as a challenge to sing the song. After rehearsing for 10 days, when she finally sang the song, an impressed R D Burman handed her a 100-rupee note. Aaja Aaja and other songs of the film, O Haseena Zulfonwali and O Mere Sona Re (all three duets with Rafi, another popular Bollywood singer), became rage of the day. Shammi Kapoor, the actor of the movie, once said – "If I did not have Mohammad Rafi to sing for me, I would have got Asha Bhosle to do the job".
• Umrao Jaan, 1981
By 1980s, Asha Bhosle had been stereotyped as a "cabaret singer" and a "pop crooner". In Rekha-starrer Umrao Jaan, she sang ghazals like Dil cheez kya hai, In aankhon ki masti ke, Ye kya jagah hai doston and Justju jiski thi. The songs proved her capable of doing fairly serious songs. The music director Khayyam, had lowered her pitch by half a note. Asha herself was surprised that she could sing so differently. The ghazals won her the first National Award of her career and proved her versatility.
• Rangeela, 1995
In 1995, a 62-year old Asha Bhosle did playback for young actress Urmila Matondkar in the movie Rangeela. She pleasantly surprised her fans with superhit songs like Tanha Tanha and Rangeela Re. The songs were composed by iconoclastic music director A. R. Rahman, who went on to record many more songs with her. Particularly notable was Asha Bhosle's first song with A R Rahman, Tanha Tanha, an oomph-oozing number.
Partnership with music directors
O. P. Nayyar
Music director O. P. Nayyar's association with Asha Bhosle is part of Bollywood lore. When her talent was not recognized by anybody in Bollywood, Nayyar recognized her potential and gave patronage to her. He was the composer who first gave Asha her own distinct identity. Many people have speculated about a romantic relationship between the two.
Nayyar first met Asha in 1952, at the music recording of Chham Chhama Chham . He first called her for a film called Mangu (1954)). He gave her a big break in CID (1956). However, it was the success of Naya Daur (1957), that made the duo very popular. After 1959, she was emotionally and professionally involved with Nayyar.
The team of O. P. Nayyar and Asha Bhosle is best remembered for their breezy and sometimes sirenish songs. Some good examples of their sensuous numbers are Aaiye meherbaan picturized on Madhubala (Howrah Bridge, 1958) and Yeh hai reshmi zulfon ka andhera picturized on Mumtaz (Mere Sanam, 1965).
They recorded songs for many hit movies like Naya Daur (1957), Tumsa Nahin Dekha (1957), Howrah Bridge (1958), Ek Musafir Ek Hasina (1962), Kashmir ki Kali (1964), etc. Some of their most popular songs include Aao huzur tumko (Kismat), Jaaiye aap kahan (Mere Sanam) etc. O.P. Nayyar used the Asha Bhosle-Mohammad Rafi duo for his most popular duets. some of these songs include Ude jab jab zulfein teri (Naya Daur). Main pyaar ka rahi hoon (Ek Musafir Ek Haseena), Deewana Hua Baadal, Ishaaron hi isharon mein (Kashmir Ki Kali) etc.
Asha recorded her last song for O.P. Nayyar in the movie Pran Jaye Par Vachan Na Jaye (1974). The solo number Chain se got many awards, but it wasn't included in the movie.
They split on August 5, 1972. It is not clear what made them part their ways. On being asked the reason for their parting, O P Nayyar once said, "I know astrology very well. I knew that one day I had to part with her. Something also happened, that upset me, so I left her." Nevertheless, he also said "...now that I am seventy-six, I can say that the most important person in my life was Asha Bhosle. She was the best person I ever met."
The parting of Asha Bhosle and O. P. Nayyar was bitter, and probably therefore she has hesitated to give Nayyar his due. While talking about O. P. Nayyar in an interview with The Times of India, she once remarked - "Whichever composer gave me work, it was because my voice was suited to his music at that point. No one musician did me any favor by asking me to sing for him." She gives the credit for her first big break to B. R. Chopra, the producer of Naya Daur.
Another music director who recognized Asha Bhosle's talent early was Khayyam. His partnership with Asha Bhosle dates back to his first movie Biwi (1948). Khayyam gave her some good assignments in the 1950s, including Dard and Phir Subah Hogi. But the team is chiefly remembered for the songs of Umrao Jaan.
Music composer Ravi considered Asha as one of his favorite singers. She sang for his first movie Vachan (1955). The melodious lullaby from the movie, Chandamama door ke became an overnight hit among young mothers in India. Ravi got her to sing bhajans for the movies Gharana, Grihasti, Kajal and Phool aur Patthar, at a time when most of the composers remembered her only when they needed to record B-grade songs picturized on the vamps or the s