Asha Bhosle@83: 'The Last Empress' of Music

September 08, 2016 07:24
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    Bollywood's playback queen Asha Bhosle, arguably India's first pop star, shows little sign of ageing as she turns 83 today. On the contrary, this octogenarian has successfully re-invented herself through the ages.

    The last year has brought the singer many ups and downs, yet she exudes an enthusiasm that has kept her in-sync with generations through the ages.

    Asha ji has been the singing voice of actresses from Waheeda Rehman and Sharmila Tagore to Rekha, Urmila Matondkar and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan to Kareena Kapoor Khan.

    Here's a pictorial look at her journey as she turns a year older.

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    Asha Bhosle was born on September 8, 1933 in Sangli, Maharashtra. Her father, Pandit Deenanath Mangeshkar, was a classical singer who died when she was just nine years old. She then took to singing to make ends meet.

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    Ashaji is very close to her sister, legendary singer Lata Mangeshkar.

    However, there was a rift between the sisters after Ashaji eloped with her neighbor at the age of 15. She admitted in an interview that Lataji considered her act irresponsible.

    However, over the years the two phenomenal voices of India have set their differences aside. Ashaji's other siblings are Usha Mangeshkar, Hridayanath Mangeshkar and Meena Khadikar.

    The five reunited at Usha's birthday last year, testament to the strong and loving bond between them even now. These images was posted on Twitter by Asha Bhosle

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    When Asha Bhosle began her career, a large share of the pie was monopolised by the prominent singers of those times and therefore decided to change her style of singing. In an interview to IANS she said, "The challenges that I had to face during my early years were humongous. There were many established singers and it was difficult for me to get into the industry. So, I decided to change my style of singing. Eena Meene Deeka was the first song I sang trying the new style. Although the old people criticised me a lot, I had found many fans and that is how it started."

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    Asha Bhosle first gained recognition with the movie Sangdil (1952), starring Dilip Kumar. She sang the song Dharti Se Door in the film.

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    In 1954, Raj Kapoor signed her to duet with Mohammad Rafi on the song Nanhe Munne Bachche in the movie Boot Polish. This was a turning point in Ashaji's life. Surely and steadily, she gained a foothold in the industry and received offers from composers such as SD Burman and Ravi.

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    Ashaji sang for SD Burman's soundtrack in movies such as Kaala Pani (1958), Insaan Jaag Utha (1959), Lajwanti (1958), Sujata (1959), Kaala Bazaar (1960) and Teen Deviyaan (1965).

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    Her soulful number Ab Ke Baras in Bimal Roy's Bandini (1963) moved the audience to tears. In contrast her seductive song Raat Akeli Hai from Jewel Thief (1967), picturised on Tanuja, became equally popular.

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    Asha Bhosle also worked with music director OP Nayyar who gave her a break with CID (1956). She got the chance to work with him again in BR Chopra's Naya Daur (1957). Her songs in the film - Saathi Haath Badhana and Uden Jab Jab Zulfein Teri - for the lead heroine, made her a household name. OP Nayyar and Asha Bhosle gave many hits together, but the two parted ways in the 1970s.

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    But was her partnership with composer RD Burman which produced some of the best songs of the golden era. Their work was first noticed in 1966 in the movie Teesri Manzil. The songs Aaja Aaja, O Haseena Zulfon Waali and O Mere Sona Re from the movie became chartbusters.

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    Ashaji and Pancham da delivered many hits together through the Seventies. Their songs Piya Tu Ab To Aaja (Caravan, 1971), Dum Maro Dum (Hare Rama Hare Krishna, 1971), Duniya Mein Logon Ko (Apna Desh, 1972) and Chura Liya Hai Tumne (Yaadon Ki Baaraat, 1973) became smash hits.

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    In the eighties Panchamda and Asha Bhosle's songs from Sagar (1985) and Ijaazat (1987) remain popular even today. Mera Kuch Saaman, Khaali Haath Shaam Aayi Hai and Katra Katra from Ijaazat and O Maria from Saagar remain etched in our memories.

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    Asha Bhosle became the voice of Helen in the late 60s and early 70s. Some of her most popular songs from those times are Piya Tu Ab To Aaja (Caravan, 1971), O Haseena Zulfon Wali (Teesri Manzil, 1966), and Yeh Mera Dil (Don, 1978).

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    When she had had enough of pop and cabaret songs, she re-invented herself yet again and went on to sing ghazals for Umrao Jaan starring Rekha. Her Dil Cheez Kya Hai from the same movie went on to become a chart-topper. Umrao Jaan, whose music director was Khayyam, fetched Ashaji a National Award.

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    Besides collaborating with music directors such as O P Nayyar, S D Burman, R D Burman, Khayyam and Bappi Lahiri, Ashaji has also worked with younger music directors like AR Rahman and Anu Malik in the Nineties for films like Baazigar (1993), Rangeela (1995) and Taal (1999). It was her sensuous voice which made the song Hoja Rangeela Re in the Urmila Matondkar film Rangeela a chartbuster.

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    In 1997, Asha Bhosle received three awards for her pop 'comeback' album Jaanam Samjha Karo.

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    During the '2000s, several of Ashaji's numbers rose to the top of the charts, including Kambakht Ishq from Pyaar Tune Kya Kiya (2001), and Yeh Lamha from Filhaal (2002).

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    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 also honoured her with the Dadasaheb Phalke Award in 2000 and the Padma Vibhushan in 2008.

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    In 2012 the dynamic singer made her silver-screen debut with the film Mai where she played an abandoned mother. However the movie failed to create ripples at the box office. Ashaji is also famous as a reality show judge on the small screen and has co-judged contests such as Indian Idol 6 and Sur Kshetra in the past.

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    Asha Bhosle's first runaway marriage with her neighbour Ganpatrao Bhosle at the age of 15 was troubled from the very beginning, even though the couple did have three children. Her in-laws ill-treated her and turned her out of their home in 1960. In 1980, she married music director RD Burman with whom she had already established a successful professional partnership. The two remained inseparable till his death in 1994.

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    In October 2012, she faced another personal tragedy when her daughter Varsha committed suicide by shooting herself in the head. She was 56 years-old that time.

    . In September 2015, just a few days after her 82nd birthday, she lost her second son, Hemant Bhosle to cancer. 66-year-old Hemant, a music composer, passed away at his residence in Scotland, and news reached Asha ji as she was preparing to leave Singapore for a grand celebration of her sister Lata's birthday in Mumbai. The party was cancelled and the two sisters consoled each other.

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    However, the ever resilient Ashaji has tried to rise above this tragedy as well. She is busying herself with re-recording old numbers, performing across the world and grooming her grandchildren in her craft.

    She recently recorded and performed with her granddaughter Zinai, recipient of the GIMA award, and she also featured in the comeback single for grandson Chintoo's band, Band of Boys.

    These images was posted on Twitter by Asha Bhosle

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    Ashaji is one of the few Indian celebrities to be in the restaurant entrepreneurship field. Her namesake restaurant Asha's, which is already popular at home, opened its doors on international waters last year with a grand opening in Manchester.

    This image was posted on Twitter by Asha Bhosle

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    And her list of accolades grew with the Music Living Legend Award GIMA and Lifetime Achievement Award for her contribution to Indian cinema at the Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) in 2014, and the Maharashtra Jeevan Gaurav Puraskar earlier this year.

    This image was posted on Twitter by Asha Bhosle

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    Meanwhile, Asha ji also bid farewell to many renowned venues across the world and India stating that she would be performing live for the last time, perhaps owing to her age.

    These images was posted on Twitter by Asha Bhosle

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    However, she is and will always remain cherished by the many Bollywood stars that she has lent her voice to, and her fans.

    These images was posted on Twitter by Asha Bhosle

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    Happy Birthday, Asha Bhosle ji!

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