Asha Bhosle : A Contented Soul
'I Feel Priviledged To Be Copied By Youngsters'
Saturday's Child : Varsha Bhosle
Asha Bhosle sings in court :-Sandesh Prabhudesai
Asha Bhosle & Lata Mangeshkar - Sisters Stick Together!
The Eternal Voice : Asha Bhosle :-Subhash K Jha
Reinventing a Diva : Asha Bhosle :- Sheela Raval
The first composer to recognise her talent was O P Nayyar, for whom Asha sang memorable tunes such as Aankhon se jo utri hai dil mein in Phir Wohi Dil Laya Hoon to Yeh hai reshmi zulfon ka andhera in Mere Sanam.It was Nayyar who helped Asha bring out such excellent sensuality in Aaiye meherban from the movie Howrah Bridge.The other composer who influenced her was S D Burman, who taught her to bring forth her deepest emotions while singing. But the composition that won her the National Award for Best Singer was by R D Burman, whom she later married.She won the award in the mid 1980s, while she was at the peak of her career, for the song Mera kuch saman tumhare paas pada hai from Ijaazat.
Not one to be left behind, Asha has now started experimenting with Indipop and remixes. And she has done a pretty good job at that – if the success of albums such as Rahul And I and Asha Once More is any indication.Even her first Indipop album, Jaanam Samjha Karo, was a big hit and made Asha a rage among the younger generation.
Asha is probably one of the few singers today who can handle a sensuous song like Piya tu ab to aaja and ghazals such as Dil cheez kya hai with equal ease and grace.
It was a great feeling to hear Asha Bhosle and Suresh Wadkar sing in court.
The legal battle over a famous Konkani song of late 60s -- Chanyache rati (In a moonlit night) -- finally saw the judge actually getting the two to sing the song in the courtroom. Ulhas Buyao, Goa's famous singer who is a litigant here, still pulls crowds when he sings Chanyache rati . The same song is sung once again by Asha and Wadkar in the album Daryachya Deger ( On the seashore) released by Shrushti Vision of Goa.
Claiming a copyright on the song, Buyao filed a case in June 1996 demanding an injunction on the sale and distribution of the cassette that includes the song. Rajendra Talak of Shrushti Vision, on the other hand, claims that Buyao had sold its copyrights to Gramophone India. While Buyao claims that he had composed its music, Adv Uday Bhembre, the lyricist of the song and also a journalist, has submitted before the court that it was his music composition which Buyao sung during the Opinion Poll, which ultimately restrained the Centre from merging Goa into Maharashtra.
After listening to the arguments at various sittings for the last three years, V P Shetye, the district and sessions judge, finally agreed to listen to both the songs in the courtroom. It would be a memorable day for the courtroom, which was full of members of the public and the lawyers. Buyao sang the version the 60s and Asha and Wadkar of the 90s. Perhaps it was the first time that real music has been heard here.
Talak played the cassette on a modern cassette player. but Buyao had to arrange for a gramophone, which is difficult to find, to play the LP record of the 60s. He apparently found one gathering dust in somebody's showcase. After listening to Asha and Wadkar, who are also being made respondents in the case, as well as Buyao, the court is now expected to deliver its judgement by December 21.
Asha Bhosle has uncovered the truth about her relationship with the equally talented and famous sister, Lata Mangeshkar. Many sources have suggested that the two singing sisters have never really got on and have shared many negative vibes with each other. Nobody has actually verified this statement, as both sisters have not discussed this matter with the press.
Asha broke all speculation as she spoke about it in an interview with an Anglo-Asian newspaper. She asserted that she never disliked Lata, as they are sisters and they do have disagreements. She blamed the media for exaggerating the story and stated that they are far from the truth. Asha stated that "Lata is a more conservative singer and I enjoy being experimental and working with all types of music".
To reveal that there are no negative vibes between the two sisters, they are considering a worldwide tour together next year. This would definitely be a blockbuster tour, as both sisters have a huge following all over the world. This would a dream come true tour for their fans.
The other day, I happened to hear a track from Ram Gopal Varma’s under-production film, being directed by Rajat Mukherjee. The song, composed by Sandeep Chowta, goes Kambakht ishq. And Asha Bhonsle sings it as though every yesterday is encompassed in all her todays and tomorrows. It made me think of all the kambakht composers who are missing out on her magical vocals. Sandeep, whose career is now on the verge of a new explosion, can’t stop raving about his new muse. I tell you, she makes all the other singers on the scene sound like kids. Ashaji’s vocals are addictive. Once a composer has worked with her he wants to get only her for his tunes.
Last year, it was Asha Bhonsle making magic with A.R. Rahman in Rang de for Thakshak. This year, it’s going to be Asha Bhosle and Sandeep Chowta making waves with Kambakht ishq. What’s it about Asha Bhonsle that makes her such a fighter? In an industry that was, and to a large extent still is, totally taken up by Didi Lata Mangeshkar’s wondrous wizardry, Asha Bhonsle invented her own idiom of ‘sylph’ expression.
Impish and authoritative, she made do with whatever came her way, never stopping to question the merit of her song. In a score like Woh Kaun Thi, where the ‘Nightingale’ made her presence felt like a presiding deity, Ashaji held her own with the lone Shokh nazar ki bijliyan.
Only recently, at a gathering in the memory of Madan Mohan, Asha Bhonsle spoke about her own small, but substantial contribution to Madan Mohan’s music, when she pointed out that the biggest hit of the composer’s career Jhumka gira re was sung by her. Whether it was the odd song in any composer’s repertoire, or a whole block of melodies that Sachin Dev Burman made her sing in the last years of the 1950s, Asha always grabbed every opportunity with famished excitement.
Even at the peak of her popularity, when Rahul Dev Burman made the best possible use of her vocals, she once expressed regret about missing out on the really Indian songs in Burman’s repertoire. He didn’t give me Raina beeti jaaye, did he? she asked rhetorically in an interview. No, R.D. Burman didn’t give her Raina beeti jaye or Beeti na beetayi raina. Not because she couldn’t do justice to them, but because there was another singer who could do optimum justice to such intricate numbers. Raina beeti jaye was seldom Asha’s prerogative.
Like Gulzar once said, Asha was like Neil Armstrong’s companion in the space rocket that touched the moon. After Lataji touched down on the moon, Ashaji could only be the second oneto get there. That’s why she created the fighter’s persona, the outspoken diva who took on the music industry on ‘HER’ terms.
Once Asha Bhonsle accepted that her Didi was ahead of her, she settled down to creating her own niche where no one, not even the mighty ‘Nightingale’ could touch her. To my mind, Asha Bhonsle’s greatest achievement is to have held her own for so many decades in a country and industry where there was Lata Mangeshkar. And then there were the rest of the singers. Asha Bhonsle rose above the rest to prove herself one of the best.
Today her vocals are in better, more supple, sensuous and inviting shape then ever before. If we listen to her singing R.D. Burman’s Teri meri yaari badi purani, right before going on to Sandeep Chowta’s Kambakht ishq, we notice no perceptible difference in the rendition of the two tracks, even though they are separated by 30 years.
Today, Asha Bhonsle sounds better than ever. So why isn’t she singing more? Why is her precious talent being allowed to languish, while mediocre female singers, with not even an atom of her explosive talents, are painting the tune red (blue, green and every possible garish colour)?
Vishal Bhardawaj, who lately recorded some songs with Asha Bhonsle for Dil Pe Mat Le Yaar, Jackpot and his first directorial venture Barf, can’t stop raving about the fabulous condition of Ashaji’s vocals. Her grasping power, her voice throw, and her ability to give seductive shapes to words still remain unbeatable. I was in seventh heaven when Ashaji agreed to sing some of my songs.
Why aren’t the hyper-busy Nadeem-Shravan and Anu Malik coming forward to record in the voice that can make all the difference to their upbeat, peppy, sensuous compositions? Has Anu forgotten what wonders Ashaji worked with Daler Mehndi in Ladti hai to ladne de in Khauff? Why hasn’t he recorded any more songs with her after Khauff? Why are our composers making do with left-overs, when the original meal ticket is ready and available?
The Princess of popular music has done an image make-over, cutting pop albums with aplomb and outperforming singers half her age. At 64, it's still spring.
University Road, Mumbai, 5 a.m. The video crew is waiting for daybreak. They want the perfect morning light to wrap up the video of the album Jaanam Samjha Karo, and go home. They look drained after shooting through the night. Except the lady in a green chiffon sari sitting on a chair in one corner. A touch of kohl in her mischievous eyes, gloss on her cheeks, her lips a fashionable matte brown. Suddenly she breaks into song. The crew stirs. Soon, the air is filled with the sound of stomping feet. Radhika Roy, 28, director of the song, is smitten: "This is the songstress as enchantress."
Cut to New York, the fabled Radio City Hall, the MTV Viewers' Choice Awards night. The hall is packed with young Americans, dressed to stun. Who should walk into this psychedelic chaos but an Indian lady sedately draped in a sari, pleasantly plump, and certainly not young. She is the winner of the Indian Viewers' Choice award.
This is Asha Bhosle in her new avatar. The high priestess of Bollywood music has gone for an image make-over. At 64. And granny's looking glamorous. The middle-class Maharashtrian housewife next door is the new pop icon, taking over from the no-holds-barred young breed. The awards are coming in so quick, they may become a habit. A sample: her remix O mere sona re sona got her this year's mtv video music award in the Indian Viewers' Choice category in September; Jaanam has topped charts on all music channels; she became the first Indian artiste to be showcased as mtv's Artist of the Month in October. Mind you, it's the teeny-boppers who vote. "I have lost count of the awards (last score: eight Filmfare Awards, two National Awards)," says the lady, "but the mtv recognition is different as it is normally given to youngsters, mainly pop singers. It also made me feel special that even thethird generation across the world loves my voice. It has rejuvenated my singing spirit."
This year, the spirit has surely soared. The MTV success apart, Legacy, her album with sarod maestro Ustad Ali Akbar Khan, was nominated for a Grammy. Jaanam has been nominated in three categories for the Channel V Music Awards. Jules Fuller, general manager, Channel V, India, gushes: "The youthfulness of her voice is incomparable. She is the funkiest star singer we've ever got."
The cash registers are singing too. Rahul and I (1996), a remix of songs she had done with her late husband R.D. Burman, sold over 1.5 million in three months. Jaanam did over three lakh in 45 days. Says Vinay Sapru, chief programmer, Polygram: "She has maintained that raunchy, teasing, sexy style which has defined market appeal."
Granny knows,she's known that for years, the style as well as the medium. With the tv invasion of India, Runa Laila hit the screens with her high-voltage Damadam mast kalandar. Bhosle improvised. The outcome: Yeh hai Asha on Doordarshan in 1976. Twenty years later, history would repeat itself. Except now it was Bally Sagoo, who had redone her song for the MTV generation -- Chura liya ... with a bit of rap.
Bhosle decided to outdo Sagoo. After a brainstorming session with her children -- Hemant, Anand, Varsha -- she approached Leslie Lewis. Says Lewis, who composed the album Rahul and I: "She is quite ahead of her time. She took a calculate risk and plunged into New Age music, with her experience to her advantage." It wasn't as easy creating a new image for a singer who, with elder sister Lata Mangeshkar, had dominated the Indian music scene for half a century. Says Ken Ghosh, director of the music video O mere sona re: "It was a big challenge to retain the old traditional look and make her look hip." He was helped by the fact that the lady knew exactly what she wanted, and how to go about it. Adds composer A.R. Rahman: "She has got a voice with a face. She is still sixteen at her heart." It's what makes the grandmother lend her voice to teeny-boppers in leather.
"Nowadays younger music directors look for younger singers but I'm happy that I have a place among them," says Bhosle. "I love to experiment." With all kinds. She has done an album of ghazals with Khayyam, pop with Biddu, and a Bengali collection with Amit Kumar. Among the first Indian singers to record in English in the West -- she teamed up with Stephen Luscombe (Ave Maria) in the mid '80s, and Boy George (Bow Down Mister) in 1989 -- she now intends to cut rock albums with Bryan Adams and Phil Collins. And she has just finished recording with the British band Code Red.
Playful love songs or lusty cabaret numbers, soulful ghazals or funky pop, Bhosle's trod everywhere, with aplomb. From the early rock 'n' roll Ina mina dika, to the seductive Burman number Piya tu ab to aaja in Caravan, to the unforgettable ghazals of Umrao Jaan. And now, at 60-plus, a voice to match oomph for oomph Urmila Matondkar's gyrations in the sexy Hoja rangeela re in Rangeela. By any count, a hectic vocal pace. A different Asha for every decade, every heroine and vamp -- now even stars on the ramp.
Though born in a family with a rich tradition in music -- her father was the legendary Dinanath Mangeshkar -- Bhosle never dreamt of becoming a playback singer. All she wanted was a "sona cha saunsar (a happy family life)". She says: "I was forced to sing. It was a question of my family's survival. I had no choice as it was the only thing I knew." Married at the age of 16 to a rationing inspector called Ganpatrao, the little income did not suffice. The first break came in 1946, for Chunariya. Then, she was the underdog.
In a world so much in awe of elder sister Lata Mangeshkar, she had to work that much harder. A common career brought about the inevitable sibling rivalry; the sisters were not on talking terms for years. Says family friend and ace photographer Gautam Rajadhyaksha: "It was not open hostility as their family bonding was stronger than the personal sentiments." Mangeshkar now says with pride: "Asha's rebellious nature and never-say-die attitude drives her ever young and versatile voice to scale new heights even now. She has earned all her achievements with a lot of hard work."
Bhosle was always made to feel second fiddle, described more often as a plodder than a genius -- even, albeit unintentionally, by her family. Says younger brother and composer Hridayanath Mangeshkar: "She was not gifted like Lata tai, she had an ordinary voice but she worked at it, and has carved her own niche after a long struggle." There have been exceptions. Like music director Naushad, who says: "The sum total of Asha's achievements could be more than Lata's. Time has not touched her voice, she can please pop lovers with rap and remix. At the same time, she has the ability to match the tunes of Ustad Ali Akbar Khan." Yet, son Anand feels she has still not been given official recognition in the form of, say, a Padma Shree. Anand, who navigates his mother's career, says: "Unlike mausi (aunt), she doesn't think with her mind, but with her heart. She didn't get what she deserved, neither from the family nor from the music world or officialdom."
Music directors often played on this sibling rivalry. Khayyam recounts an interesting anecdote when he tried to persuade a hesitant Bhosle to sing for Umrao Jaan. It was going to be different from anything she had done before. The composer argued it was time she did a masterpiece -- great music, great heroine. Mangeshkar had done it earlier in Pakeezah, Khayyam told her; it was her chance to outdo didi. The provocation worked.
The obvious comparison has haunted Bhosle all through. "I've felt good and bad. It's an honour to be compared to didi. But then, at the same time, we are different," she says, with a tinge of sadness. Despite the fact that, with 12,000 songs, Bhosle is the most recorded artiste in the world. In a way, it doesn't matter to her anymore. She now enjoys music and life more than ever before. "I am now free to do things of my own choice. I have a back-up in my well-established children."
Freedom has always defined her, she's always been her own person: playful, unorthodox, carelessly romantic. Even today she revels in her femininity. It's in the way she wears her trademark Mangeshkar-white saris, trendily-cut blouses, diamonds the size of pigeon's eggs. Above all in the manner she speaks to men -- bordering on the coquettish. Despite the fact that her various relationships have rarely been smooth. An unhappy first marriage with Bhosle was followed by a long relationship with music director O.P. Nayyar that led nowhere.
Her second marriage to a much younger Burman soured. "My priorities were clear: first I was the mother, then a singer, then a wife or lover," she says. "If something came between the first two, I cut myself ruthlessly from it." Which also meant controversies, and being labelled selfish, ruthless and manipulative.
One day she'll tell the world how she has felt: she spends nearly two hours every day writing her autobiography in Marathi. Something filmmaker Sai Paranjpye might wish she had waited for before making the hugely contested Saaz.
This prima donna of popular music obviously has no plans to call it a day. "Music is like my breathing. The day it stops, my breath will stop too. There is so much to do and I'm afraid there is very little time left. I hope I can continue singing in my next birth."
When she is not recording or shooting her videos, Bhosle would much rather be cooking. She has collected recipes from across the country. "I learnt Lucknavi cuisine from Majrooh Sultanpuri's begum, which is a big hit with the family," she says. Randhir Kapoor once advised her to stop singing and take up cooking as a profession. And when she's not cooking, she's looking after her house and warbling to her grandchildren, who call her by her first name. That's the way she likes it. For this matriarch, there is no autumn, only spring.