Asha Bhosle (born September 8, 1933) is an Indian singer. She is best known as a playback singer in Hindi cinema, although she has a wider repertoire.Bhosle’s career started in 1943 and has spanned over six decades. She has done playback singing for over a thousand Bollywood movies. In addition, she has recorded several private albums and participated in numerous solo concerts in India and abroad.Asha Bhosle is the sister of playback singer Lata Mangeshkar.
Renowned for her voice range and often credited for her versatility,Bhosle’s work includes film music, pop, ghazals, bhajans, traditional Indian classical music, folk songs, qawwalis, and Rabindra Sangeets. Apart from Hindi, she has sung in over 20 Indian and foreign languages.In 2006, Asha Bhosle stated that she had sung over 12,000 songs, a figure repeated by several other sources.The World Records Academy, an international organization which certifies world records, recognised her as the “Most Recorded Artist” in the world, in September 2009.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 was born in the small hamlet of Goar in Sangli, Bombay Presidency (now in Maharashtra), into the musical family of Master Deenanath Mangeshkar, who belongs to Gomantak Maratha Samaj. Her father was a theater actor and classical singer. When she was nine years old, her father died. The family moved from Pune to Kolhapur and then to Mumbai. 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 film Majha Bal (1943). 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, marrying him against her family’s wishes. Ganpatrao was Lata’s personal secretary. The marriage failed miserably. Her husband and in-laws mistreated her. After a few years of marriage, Asha was turned out (around 1960) by a suspicious Ganpatrao and she went to her maternal home with two children and pregnant with her third child. She continued to sing in films to earn money.
At that time, prominent playback singers like Geeta Dutt, Shamshad Begum and Lata Mangeshkar dominated the singing 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 sang more songs than most playback singers in Bollywood (not counting Lata). Most of these were in low budget B or C-grade films. Her earliest songs were composed by A R Qureshi, Sajjad Hussain and Ghulam Mohammed, and most of these songs failed to do well.Singing in Sangdil (1952), composed by Sajjad Hussain, she got reasonable 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 popularity.
O. P. Nayyar gave Asha a break in C.I.D. (1956). She first achieved success in B. R. Chopra’s Naya Daur (1957), composed by him. Her duets with Rafi like “Maang Ke Saath Tumhara”, “Saathi Haath Badhana” and “Uden Jab Jab Zulfein Teri”, penned by Sahir Ludhianvi, earned her recognition. It was the first time she sang all the songs for a 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). Nayyar’s future collaboration with Bhosle also resulted in success. Gradually, she established her status and received the patronage of such composers as Sachin Dev Burman and Ravi. Bhosle and Nayyar had a professional and personal parting of ways in the 1970s.
In 1966, Bhosle’s performances in the duets from one of music director R.D. Burman’s first soundtracks, for the movie Teesri Manzil, won popular acclaim. Reportdly, 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 ten days of rehearsals, and “Aaja Aaja”, along with such other songs as “O Haseena Zulfonwali” and “O Mere Sona Re” (all three duets with Rafi), became successful. Shammi Kapoor, the film’s leading actor, was once quoted as saying– “If I did not have Mohammad Rafi to sing for me, I would have got Asha Bhosle to do the job”. 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 Zulfon Wali” 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. Some of their other popular numbers include “Piya Tu Ab To Aaja” (Caravan) and “Yeh Mera Dil” (Don), among others.
By the 1980s, Bhosle, although highly regarded[by whom?] for her abilities 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), “Lucky Lips” from Lucky (2005). In October 2004, The Very Best of Asha Bhosle, The Queen of Bollywood, a compilation album of songs recorded by Bhosle for albums and Bollywood films that were released between 1966 and 2003, was released.
In a rare feat, noted lyricist Gulzar, music director R.D. Burman and Asha Bhosle, came together in 1987, to create a double album, titled, Dil Padosi Hai, which was released on September 8, 1987. In 1995, Asha underwent the gatha bandan (thread-tying) ceremony with Hindustani classical music maestro Ali Akbar Khan to learn a classical repertoire held within the Maihar gharana (stylistic school of Indian classical music), as handed down to Khan by his father Allauddin Khan (the guru of Ravi Shankar). Later, Asha and Ustad Ali Akbar Khan recorded eleven fixed compositions (or bandishes) in California for Legacy, a private album that earned them a Grammy Award nomination.
In 1990s, Asha experimented with remixed R.D. Burman songs. She was criticized by many, including Khayyam for tampering with old melodies. Nevertheless, albums like Rahul And I became quite popular. In 1997, Asha did a private Indipop album Janam Samjha Karo with Leslie Lewis. The album was hugely popular and won her many awards including the 1997 MTV Award.
Asha had been once asked by director B R Ishaara to compose music for one of his films, but she had politely declined. In 2002, she turned music composer with the album Aap Ki Asha, an eight-song music and video album. The lyrics were written by Majrooh Sultanpuri (his last lyrics). The album was released by Sachin Tendulkar on May 21, 2001 at a lavish party in Mumbai. The album received mixed reviews.
Asha had spotted Pakistani singer Adnan Sami’s talent when he was about 10 years old. At that time, she was performing in London, with R D Burman. It was she who had asked him to pursue his interests in music seriously. When Adnan grew up and became a professional musician, Asha sang the title duet with him for his best-selling album Kabhi to nazar milao. The two came together again in the album Barse Badal. The album comprises eight songs, based on Indian Classical music. She contributed the song Yun Na Thi to the recording Womad Talking Book Volume Four: An Introduction to Asia 1 on Womad Records.
Asha has sung ghazals for many albums like Meraj-E-Ghazal, Aabshar-E-Ghazal and Kashish. In 2005, Asha released a self-titled album as a tribute to the four ghazal maestros – Mehdi Hassan, Ghulam Ali, Farida Khanum and Jagjit Singh. The album features eight of her favorite ghazals like Farida Khanum’s Aaj Jaane Ki Zid Na Karo, Ghulam Ali’s Chupke Chupke, Aawargi and Dil Mein Ek Lahar, Jagjit Singh’s Ahista Ahista and Mehdi Hassan’s Ranjish Hi Sahi, Rafta Rafta and Mujhe Tum Nazar Se. These classic ghazals were recreated with modern sounds by musician Pandit Somesh Mathur. The album was aimed at the younger generation, who, according to Asha, are “turned off” by the traditional sounds of tabla and sarangi.
Numerous compilations of Asha’s songs have been released as well. To commemorate her 60th birthday, EMI India released three cassettes: Bala Main Bairagan Hoongi (devotional songs), The Golden Collection: Memorable Ghazals (non-film ghazals by composers such as Ghulam Ali, R.D. Burman and Nazar Hussain), and The Golden Collection: The Ever Versatile Asha Bhosle (44 popular film songs).
In 1996, Asha Bhosle sang Channeache Rati among several other songs in Rajendra Talak’s Konkani album Daryachya Deger with Suresh Wadkar.
In 2006, she recorded an album Asha and Friends, singing duets, with film actors Sanjay Dutt and Urmila Matondkar and famous cricket player Brett Lee, with whom she sang, You’re the One for Me (Haan Main Tumhara Hoon). All these songs composed by Shamir Tandon were shot on video by journalist turned director S Ramachandran.
Asha’s house is situated in Prabhukunj Apt on Peddar Road area of South Mumbai. She has three children and five grandchildren. The eldest of her three children, Hemant Bhosle (named after Hemant Kumar), spent most of his early years as a pilot and quit to have a brief career as a music director. Bhosle’s daughter Varsha committed suicide on 8 October 2012, she was 56 years old and worked as a columnist for The Sunday Observer and Rediff.
Asha’s youngest child, Anand Bhosle, has studied business and film direction. He manages Asha’s career. Her grandson, Chaitanya (Chintu) Bhosle (Hemant’s son) is a part of the world of music. He is a member of India’s first & only boy band, “A Band of Boys”. Her sisters Lata and Usha Mangeshkar are playback singers. Her other, sister Meena Mangeshkar and brother Hridayanath Mangeshkar are music directors.
Asha married Rahul Dev Burman in 1980.This was second marriage for both Rahul and Asha. Rahul, 6 years younger than her, earlier got divorced from Rita Patel in 1971.Asha, at the age of 16, had eloped with 31-year-old Ganpatrao Bhosle. They separated in 1960. They have 3 children.
Asha is an excellent cook and cooking is her favorite hobby. She often gets flooded with requests by Bollywood celebrities for kadai ghosht and biryani dishes and has rarely turned down a request. In fact, her paya curry, Goan fish curry and dal are very popular with the Kapoor family of Bollywood. Once, when asked in a Times of India interview, what if her singing career had not taken off, she said “I would have become a cook. I’d have cooked in four houses and made money.
Asha is a successful restaurateur and runs restaurants in Dubai and Kuwait, called Asha’s. Asha’s offers traditional north-western Indian cuisine. It has a presence in the Wafi City development in Dubai, as well as three restaurants in Kuwait, at The Avenues Mall, the Marina Mall and a brand new third outlet at the Spoons Complex. Other restaurants can be found in Abu Dhabi’s Khaldiya Mall, Doha’s Villagio and Bahrain’s City Center Mall, with future outposts planned for Dubai’s Mall of the Emirates and Cairo, Egypt. Asha Bhosle has a 20% stake in the business. Asha is not involved in day-to-day running of the restaurant which is looked after by the Wafi Group. She takes care of the kitchen and the décor. She personally trained the chefs for almost six months. According to a December 2004 report in the Menu Magazine,Russell Scott, a former head of Harry Ramsden’s (the fish and chips chain), secured the UK rights to the Asha’s brand and planned to open up to 40 restaurants over the next five years. As part of her chain of restaurants, Asha has recently opened a new restaurant in Birmingham, UK.
Awards and Recognitions
Asha Bhosle has won seven Filmfare Best Female Playback Awards of 18 nominations.She won her first two awards in 1967 and 1968. (Mangeshkar asked not to be considered for the award nominations after 1969 to promote new talent). After receiving the award in 1979, Bhosle emulated her elder sister and requested that her name not be considered for the nominations hereafter. Despite this, Bhosle is the most frequent winner of this award to date, tying with Alka Yagnik. She was later given a Special Award for Rangeela in 1996, and the Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award in 2001. Following is the list of her Filmfare Awards:
Filmfare Best Female Playback Award
1968: “Garibon ki Suno” (Dus Lakh, 1966)
1969: “Parde Mein Rehne Do” (Shikar, 1968)
1972: “Piya Tu Ab To Aaja” (Caravan, 1971)
1973: “Dum Maro Dum” (Hare Rama Hare Krishna, 1972)
1974: “Hone Lagi Hain Raat” (Naina, 1973)
1975: “Chain Se Humko Kabhi” (Pran Jaye Par Vachan Na Jaye, 1974)
1979: “Yeh Mera Dil” (Don, 1978)
1996 – Special Award (Rangeela, 1995)
Lifetime Achievement Award
2001 – Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award
National Film Awards
Asha has won the National Film Award for Best Female Playback Singer twice:
1981: Dil Cheez Kya Hai (Umrao Jaan)
1986: Mera Kuch Samaan (Ijaazat)
IIFA Award for Best Female Playback
2002: “Radha Kaisa Na Jale” ( Lagaan)
Asha has won numerous other awards, including:
1987: Nightingale Of Asia Award (from the Indo–Pak Association, UK).
1989: Lata Mangeshkar Award (Government of Madhya Pradesh).
1997: Screen Videocon Award (for the album Jaanam Samajha Karo).
1997: MTV Award (for the album Jaanam Samajha Karo).
1997: Channel V Award (for the album Jaanam Samjha Karo).
1998: Dayawati Modi Award.
1999: Lata Mangeshkar Award (Government of Maharashtra)
2000: Singer of the Millennium (Dubai).
2000: Zee Gold Bollywood Award (for Mujhe Rang De from Thakshak).
2001: MTV Award (for Kambakht Ishq).
2002: BBC Lifetime Achievement Award (presented by the UK Prime Minister Tony Blair).
2002: Zee Cine Award for Best Playback Singer – Female (for Radha Kaise Na Jale from Lagaan).
2002: Zee Cine Special Award for Hall of Fame.
2002: Sansui Movie Award (for Radha Kaise Na Jale from Lagaan).
2003: Swaralaya Yesudas Award for outstanding contributions to Indian music.
2004: Living Legend Award by the Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
2005: MTV Immies, Best Female Pop Act for Aaj Jaane Ki Zid Na Karo.
2005: Most Stylish People in Music.
Honours and recognitions
In 1997, Asha became the first Indian singer to be nominated for the Grammy Award, for Legacy, an album with Ustad Ali Akbar Khan.
She has received seventeen Maharashtra State Awards.
She received the Dadasaheb Phalke Award in 2000 for her outstanding contribution to Indian cinema.
She holds honorary doctorates from the University of Amravati and University of Jalgaon in Literature.
She has received The Freddie Mercury Award for Outstanding Achievement in Arts.
The Birmingham Film Festival paid her a special tribute in November 2002.
She was honoured with the Padma Vibhushan by the Government of India.
She was among top 20 music icons of the past 50 years.
In 2011 the Guinness Book of World Records officially acknowledged Bhosle, at The Asian Awards, as the most recorded artist in the history of music. She was awarded a certificate for “the most studio recordings (singles) from Sebastian Coe for recording up to 11,000 solo, duet and chorus-backed songs and in over 20 Indian languages since 1947”. At the event she was also awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award.