B.H.Harsh wrote on 11 Aug 2008
Asha Bhosle was born as Asha Mangeshkar on 8th September 1933 to Pt Dinanath Mangeshkar at Goar in Sangli, Maharashtra. Her father was a theatre actor and classical singer. After his death in 1942, she and her family moved to Mumbai. She along with her elder sister Lata Mangeshkar began singing and acting in films in order to support their family.
She sang her first song for a Marathi film, Majha Bal in 1943. Her first Hindi song was Saawan Aaya for Hansraj Behl’s Chunariya which released in 1948. Prior to this she also had a small stint as a child artist in few films. She had to wait for a long time to achieve success that was due as most of the films that she sang for were small budget films and hence went unnoticed. Also, due to the monopoly of already established singers like Lata Mangeshkar, Geeta Dutt, Shamshad Begum, she did not get to sing for the top heroines initially. It was in 1954 when she sang Nanhe munne bachche… for Raj Kapoor’s Boot Polish, that she was instantly recognized. Later O. P. Nayyar gave her a break in his film CID (1956). The soundtrack of this film was fairly successful. This was followed by Naya Daur in 1957 whose songs became very popular and Asha Bhosle became a name to reckon with. Her further collaborations with O. P. Nayyar, like Tumsa Nahi Dekha (1957), Howrah Bridge (1958), Kashmir Ki Kali (1964) etc yielded good results. Aaiye meherbaan…, Aao huzoor tumko…, Ude jab jab zulfein teri… are songs which are remembered and hummed by many even today. Sadly, she and O. P. Nayyar parted ways in 1972 and did not work with each other after that.
She had a successful tryst with other composers too during this time. One of these being with composer Ravi for whom she sang Chandamama door ke… for his very first film and the song became a rage overnight. Another funny yet popular duet with Kishore Kumar that is reminiscenced even today is "C-A-T …Cat mane billi…" from Dilli Ka Thug, composed by Ravi again. She recorded songs for many popular films like Waqt, Chaudhavin Ka Chaand, China Town, Humraaz for him. Similarly with Sachin Dev Burman she gave many hit numbers for films like Kaala Paani, Sujata and Bandini. The most famous track with S D Burman however is "Raat akeli hai…" from Jewel Thief (1967) where she lent her sensuous voice to an equally sensuous on screen Tanuja. She proved her versatility by singing all types of songs, be it cabaret, rock, disco, to even the soulful romantic numbers. She even sang ghazals as well as Indian classical music.
Her association with Rahul Dev Burman whom she later married gave the Hindi film industry many evergreen soundtracks. The first film that they did together was Teesri Manzil (1966) which had songs like O hasina zulfowali… and O mere sona re… both the songs were superhits. In the early 70’s most of their songs topped the charts. Piya tu ab to aaja… a cabaret from Caravan (1971) picturised on Helen is almost immortal. So are few others like Dum Maaro Dum… from Hare Rama Hare Krishna (1971), Yeh mera dil… from Don (1978) Jaanejaan dhoondta phir raha… from Jawani Diwani, and Chura Liya from Yaadon Ki Baarat (1973). The later being the ultimate romantic number for many a youngster even today. The success trend continued in the 80’s too, with Saagar (1985) where she sang the sensuous Jaane do na… and O maria. This was followed by Ijaazat (1987). The focus here shifting to more soulful numbers penned by Gulzar. "Chhoti si kahani se…", "Mera kucch saaman…", "Katra katra behti hai…", and "Khaali haath shaam aayi hain…". each of these as poignant as the previous one and hence extremely popular.
Khayyam’s Umrao Jaan is another landmark in Asha Bhosle’s career. Her voice fitted the onscreen courtesan Rakha to a tee and enhanced the character to a great extent since this was a musical. This was also a challenge for her as by then she had sung many cabaret and pop numbers, but singing ghazals was another cup of tea. She managed to pull it off successfully with Dil cheez kya hai, Yeh kya jagah hai doston... and In aankhon ki masti ke... sung with equal grace and panache. She won her first National award of her career for this film. She has sung innumerable songs which have done well with composers from the 60’s to the recent times. Shankar-Jaikishen, Madan Mohan, Jaidev, Chitragupta, Jatin Lalit, Bappi Lahiri, Anu Malik and Kalyanji Anandji are few music directors for whom she sang.
However, it was with A. R. Rehman’s compositions for Rangeela (1995) that she came into the public eye after long. Tanha tanha picturised on the nubile Urmila Matondkar was a rage overnight. It was almost unbelievable that Asha Bhosale could sing such a number at the age of 62. She went onto record more chartbusters with A R Rehman. Of these the most notable have been "Mujhe rang de…" from Thakshak (1999), "Radha kaise na jale…" from Lagaan (2001), "Kahin aag lage…" from Taal (1999), and "O bhawre…" from Daud (1997). She has also sung few songs like Khallas from Company (2002), and "Kambakht Ishq…" from Pyaar Tune Kya Kiya (2001) for Sandeep Chowta. These songs have topped the charts in recent times. Her most famous number "Mehbooba Mehbooba" from Sholay was incorporated in the 2007 release RGV Ki Aag, which is a remake of Sholay. However the song was recorded with Sunidhi Chauhan and hence Asha Bhosle had a minor tiff with the composer of this song, Himesh Reshammiya. This tiff was later resolved and she sang for Himesh for his film Aap Ka Suroor (2007).
She is currently working on her Autobiography. In her career span of almost 60 years Asha Bhosle has received many awards. She has been nominated 18 times in the Best Female Singer category in the Filmfare awards and won 7 times out of it. After receiving the award in 1979, she requested the Filmfare authorities that her name not be considered for nominations in order to promote new talent. The Filmfare awards that she won are: 1968 : Garibon ki suno (Dus Lakh) 1969 : Parde me rehne do (Shikar) 1972 : Piya tu ab to aaja (Caravan) 1973 : Dum maaro dum (Hare Rama Hare Krishna) 1974 : Hone lagi hai raat (Naina) 1975 : Chain se humko kabhi (Pran jaaye par vachan na jaaye) 1979 : Ye mera dil (Don)
She was given a special award for Rangeela in 1996 and was also the recipient of Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award in 2001. She has won the National Award for Best Female Playback singer twice in her career. The first being for Dil cheez kya hai from Umrao Jaan (1981) and the other for Mera Kucch Saaman from Ijaazat (1987). Apart from this she has received The Zee Cine Special Award for Hall of fame in 2002, The BBC Lifetime Achievement award, which was presented to her by the then UK Prime minister Tony Blair. For her rendition of Radha kaise na jale from Lagaan (2001), she has won the Zee Cine award, the Screen Videocon award and the Sansui award in the Best female singer category. She is also the recipient of 17 awards from the Maharashtra State. She received the Dadasaheb Phalke award in 2000 for her outstanding contribution to Indian cinema. She has been conferred with the Padma Vibhushan award by the Government of India. Also, she has received various awards from music channels like MTV and Channel V. In 1997, she became the first Indian singer to have been nominated for the Grammy Award, for an album with Ustad Ali Akbar Khan titled The Legacy.
Her brother Hridaynath Mangeshkar is a composer. She married twice. Her first marriage was at the age of 16, when she eloped and got married to her sister Lata Mangeshkar’s personal secretary Ganpatrao Bhosle who was almost twice her age. After an unsuccessful marriage and three children, she returned to music where she met R. D. Burman, whom she married in 1980. She has five grand-children, one of them being Chaitanya (Chintu) Bhosle, who is a part of the famous Indian boy band, “Band Of Boys”. She likes to cook and has two successful restaurants in D