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8 Facts About ‘The Queen of Indipop’: Asha Bhosle

  • Asha Bhosle reigned for about 60 to 70 years in which she sang film music
  • Asha Bhosle found a place in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s most prolific recording artist
  • Asha Bhosle was born in Sangli, now in Maharashtra on September 8, 1933

Asha Bhosle is an Indian singer who is globally known for her flawless singing. Asha Bhosle is one of India’s most admired and prolific artistes being vivacious and versatile at the same time. Asha Bhosle started her career in 1943 and was noted for her versatility and voice range. Asha Bhosle reigned for about 60 to 70 years in which she sang film music, ghazals, qawwalis, folk’s songs etc. Throughout her career, Asha Bhosle has sung over 12,000 songs and she has sung in over 20 Indian languages apart from Hindi.

Asha Bhosle is a legend who has sung over 11,000 songs in more than 20 Indian languages and also been immortalized on the UK No 1 record. She found a place in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s most prolific recording artist.

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Asha Bhonsle’s musical journey over her seven-decade strong career has been extraordinary. The third daughter of renown singer-actor Pandit Dinanath Mangeshkar, she was just 11 when she performed her first song, Chala Chala Nav Bala, for a movie soundtrack in 1943. Blessed with an unparalleled voice, the talented singer never looked back, going on to win a multitude of national and international awards.

In the 1960s and 1970, Ashaji became the voice of Bollywood actresses and dancers. Wikimedia Commons
In the 1960s and 1970, Ashaji became the voice of Bollywood actresses and dancers. Wikimedia Commons

It has been 74 years since, but the magic of her music remains undiminished with the diva constantly reinventing her through unusual collaborations and experiments. Equally endearing is her signature, ready sense of jest and captivating smile.

Asha Bhosle was born in Sangli, now in Maharashtra on September 8, 1933. Her real name was Asha Mangeshkar. Asha Bhosle is the younger sister of the renowned playback singer Lata Mangeshkar. Asha Bhosle got many breaks with Rafi, R.D. Burman, Sachin Dev Burman etc. and became popular. In the 1960s and 1970, Ashaji became the voice of Bollywood actresses and dancers. In 2000, Asha Bhosle was honoured by the Government of India with Dadasaheb Phalke Award and then she was awarded Padma Vibhushan in 2008.

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To honour the evergreen singer, let’s celebrate her beautiful journey with 8 little-known stories from her life.

  1. First National Award

By the end of the 80s, Asha Bhosle had the people grooving to her wildly peppy numbers. It was her 1981 that she collaborated with music director Khayyam for Umrao Jaan that led to some of the most memorable songs of her career. She got her first National Award for best female playback singer, thanks to the soul-searing ghazals she sang for Rekha in the period drama.

  1. Hooghly bond

Once, Asha Bhosle with her husband was enjoying a quiet evening by the Hooghly riverside. The stars were emerging in the darkening sky, a gentle breeze was blowing, and the boatmen were singing songs as they returned home.

That evening was the inspirational enough for a tune that would go on to become the hauntingly beautiful ‘Do lafzon kee hai dil ki kahani, ya hai mohabbat, ya hai jawani’ song from the Amitabh Bachchan-Zeenat Aman movie, The Great Gambler.

In 2000, Asha Bhosle was honoured by the Government of India with Dadasaheb Phalke Award and then she was awarded Padma Vibhushan in 2008. Wikimedia Commons
In 2000, Asha Bhosle was honoured by the Government of India with Dadasaheb Phalke Award and then she was awarded Padma Vibhushan in 2008. Wikimedia Commons

  1. James Bond connection

In 1987, Asha Bhosle requested RD Burman and noted lyricist Gulzar to work on songs for an album she wanted to do with them. However, both of them kept delaying it and finally she gave up.

Also Read: V Shantaram: The Man Who Shaped Indian Cinema

After that, while watching a James Bond film, Burman suddenly switched off the TV and began working on a few tunes. He then spoke to Gulzar for the album that finally released on Asha’s 54th birthday.

  1. Unique collaborations.

Asha Bhosle has collaborated with some big names, like Michael Stipe, Boy George, Nelly Furtado and Code Red. The record released by this group was an unexpected success and was soon followed by other amazing collaborations such as The Way You Dream (a duet with Michael Stipe).

In 1997, British band Cornershop paid a tribute to Asha with their hit number,’ Brimful of Asha‘. Interestingly, the Black-Eyed Peas’ hit song from 2005, “Don’t Phunk with My Heart,” was based on samples from two different songs by Asha!

  1. Composing and acting

Asha Bhosle was always interested in trying something new. Other than experimenting with different genres of music, she has also tried her hand at different roles altogether. A decade later, the 79-year-old singer stepped in front of the camera with the Marathi film Mai. A family drama that revolved around children abandoning their aged parents, the film also starred actors Ram Kapoor and Padmini Kolhapure.

  1. Nomination for Grammy

In 1997, Asha Bhosle went on to become India’s first singer to be nominated for a Grammy. The nomination was for the album Legacy that had 12 beautiful classical numbers in Asha’s mellifluous voice with Ustad Ali Akbar Khan masterful handling of his sarod.

Also Read: The Aspects You Don’t Want To Miss About Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan

In 2005, she was nominated for the second time for the Grammy awards. This time, the album was a collaboration with Kronos Quartet titled ‘You’ve Stolen My Heart – Songs from R D Burman’s Bollywood‘.

Blessed with an unparalleled voice, the talented singer never looked back, going on to win a multitude of national and international awards. Wikimedia Commons
Blessed with an unparalleled voice, the talented singer never looked back, going on to win a multitude of national and international awards. Wikimedia Commons

  1. Filmfare award

In 1974, Asha Bhosle was awarded Filmfare Best Singer award for a playback song The song was ‘Chain se hum ko kabhi aap ne jeene na diyaa‘and the movie was ‘Pran Jaye Par Vachan Na Jaye‘.  But unfortunately, the song wasn’t featured in the film. In fact, it was also the last song that she sang for O P Nayyar, the music composer who created some of her best songs.

  1. Skilled cook

Besides being a music wizard, Asha Bhosle is also a mastered cook. Her family, friends and colleagues in the industry swear by her delicious meals, especially her prawn patties and paya curry.

Prompted by her skills, Asha Bhosle started her restaurants in Dubai, Bahrain, Abu Dhabi,Qatar, Kuwait, and Birmingham and Manchester in the UK.  The chain was called “Asha’s”.  The restaurants serve signature dishes inspired by Asha’s childhood and RD Burman’s favourite meals, with the singer’s all-time hits playing in the background.

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