Asha Bhosle, 87 today! 87 years of a wonderful life, full of giving back to the music industry. A Bollywood world which would have been starkly different with no Asha Ji.
Who is Asha Bhosle?
Junior to her sister Lata Mangeshkar in age, not in talent, Asha Ji started her journey in Indian classical music being taught from a young age by her esteemed father, Pandit Deenanath Mangeshkar, a renowned scholar in Indian Classical music.
At the age of nine, her father passed away and this brought both sisters to a turning point where they decided to sing and try out acting in the movie industry to support themselves. Asha Ji’s first song was at the age of 10 for the Marathi film, Chala Chala Nav Bala, in 1943.
In the years that followed, she possibly sang the largest number of songs compared to any other playback vocalist. She hardly refused work, it was work, it was money, and she enjoyed singing! Often taking songs that other playback singers would refuse, Asha ji started making a name for herself. A fiery can-do attitude, she was a go-getter and felt deeply independent even at a young age. At 16 she decided to fly the nest and marry Ganpatrao Bhosle, she was deeply in love. It’s the 1950’s India, flying the nest and being formally walked out with family blessings are two very different roads in our culture, especially back then. Ostracised from her family, not accepted by her new family, times were difficult, there was little moral or financial support. These years were difficult and the marriage ended in 1960.
Even through these difficult family times, Asha Ji persevered and fought on, making a name for herself. In 1957, Asha Ji got a huge break in with the writer O.P. Nayyar in the movie Tumsa Nahin Dekha followed by Naya Daur, Lajwanti , Howrah Bridge, and Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi. Her singing and the hit tunes took Asha Ji straight up to the top and high in demand. From that point, she turned into Nayyar’s chief artist until the mid-1970s. This golden era gave us some real melodic enchantment, together they worked flawlessly and she went on to back more successes in the movies Phir Wohi Dil Laya Hoon, Mere Sanam, Humsaya in the ’60s, and Pran Jaye Par Vachan Na Jaye (1974).
In the 1970s she entered into collaborations with the famous Rahul Dev Burman also known as RD Burman. Burman modernised Asha with a new hip and happening sound and both of them made their most noteworthy hits with Haré Rama Haré Krishna, Jawani Diwani, Procession of Memories, and Hum Kisise Kum Naheen. It was a very fruitful collaboration and the great new vibe the team brought together was cemented in marriage in 1980.
One of the most remembered performances by Asha Ji was the collaboration with Khayyam. Their joint effort in the Urdu film Umrao Jaan (1981), where the melodies were generally verse, poetry, poetic melody. His ear and tweaking of the sound Asha Ji brought to the table have undoubtedly made these some of the absolute best and memorable tunes are sung by her.
From strength to strength, she made performing artists stand apart from the competition with her melodious rhythm. Some of the huge successes of the ’90s were hers too. Movies like Dil To Pagal Hai (1997), one of Shahrukh Khan’s biggest hits, and Taal (1999), music composed and directed by the Oscar winner, A.R. Rehman with a few Indipop music collections over her shoulder, vast years of experience and an almost goddess-like status in the industry, all the successes to date determine Asha Ji’s validity. She was also recently designated for the lofty Grammy Award for her Best Contemporary World-Music Album and rightly so she is listed in the BBC’s top 100 most inspirational women.
Asha Ji is still going strong! Her latest project “Asha ki Asha” is a successful online talent show which allows new singers the chance to present their skills to Asha Ji where she opens up and talks quite candidly and freely to the contestants. Indeed, even at the age of 87, there is no halting Asha Ji. We at Whiterock Entertainment thank her infinitely for touching all our lives and the lives of others she has inspired. We can’t really sing you happy birthday… it would be an embarrassing effort on our part to sing to a legend like yourself… but we do wish you a happy and healthy future and a fantastic birthday surrounded by those you love and those who love you.
Happy Birthday Asha Ji.