The Voice of India: Asha Bhosle

Asha Bhosle
Image credits: Rediff

Asha Bhosle, the legendary singer, still sings the way she did in her heyday because of her flexibility. This gifted vocalist is equally at home singing a somber ghazal or a lively cabaret song with equal vigor and panache. Asha Bhonsle can breathe new life into every song, whether it’s “Oh Mere Sona Re,” “Aaiye Meherban,” or “Kambakth Ishq.” As a result of her extensive filmography, she has performed in well over one thousand Hindi film soundtracks.

Famous for the breadth and flexibility of her voice, she has performed across several genres, including cinema music, and pop. She has also sung bhajans, ghazals, and Indian Traditional classical music, in addition to qawwalis and folk songs. Asha has performed in over 20 languages, including Hindi and many more from India and beyond. In 2011, she was formally acknowledged by the Guinness Book of World Records as the most certified musician in history. Father Phalke Award in 2000 and Padm Vibhushan in 2008 was bestowed to Asha Bhosle. Keep reading to learn more about Asha Bhosle.

Personal Details

Image credits: Bollywoodhungama

Asha Bhosle was born on 8th September 1933, in Sangli, Maharashtra, to a Gomantak Marathi Brahmin family. She was the middle child in a family of five. Classical vocalist and stage performer Pandit Dinanath Mangeshkar was her father. Pandit Dinanath’s second wife, Shevanti, was her mother. She and her siblings began classical music training at an early age. Despite her brief foray into acting as a young artist, she was destined for a career in music.

Unfortunately, her father died unexpectedly in 1942, leaving the family reeling both emotionally and financially. Along with her older sister, Lata Mangeshkar, she began acting and singing professionally. Master Vinayak, the family’s guru, and close friend insisted the family relocate from Pune to Bombay. When she was eleven years old in 1943, Asha was given the opportunity to sing in a Marathi film.

When Datta Davjekar composed the score for the film “Majha Bal,” the song was called “Chala Chala Nav Bala”. In 1948, she collaborated with composer Hansraj Behl on the song ‘Saawan Aaya’ from the film ‘Chunariya’ for her maiden venture into Hindi cinema playback.

By 16, she had married Ganpatrao Bhosle, the personal secretary of her older sister Lata Mangeshkar, over her family’s objections. Asha Bhosle was kicked out of Ganpatrao’s house when their marriage fell apart. She returned to her mother’s house with two of her children, Hemant and Varsha, and a third child, Anand, who was still a fetus. While performing as a playback vocalist, Ashaji met Rahul Dev Burman, and the two were married in 1980. The two had a great and happy marriage that lasted till Rahul’s death in 1994 when the couple separated.

A Soulful Career

Image credits: Deccan Herald

It was in the Hindi film ‘Chunariya,’ wherein she made her playback debut, in 1948. When she sang “Saawan Aya” for the song, people took note of Asha’s unique, humorous voice. Leading vocalists like Geeta Dutt, Lata Mangeshkar, and Shamshad Begum refused her jobs throughout the 1950s.

The majority of her songs were written for minor parts like vamps, cabaret numbers, or B-movie musicals, rather than for major roles like those. Asha’s determination paid off when she finally reached the pinnacle of her career. When she got her big breakthrough with the film C.I.D., all of her hard work paid off (1956). She started to receive more offers and perform more often after being introduced to O.P Nayyar’s support. The film Naya Daur was a big hit for her (1957).

During her time working with OP Nayar on Aaiye Meherban, “Deewana Hua Badal,” “Sharon Isharan Mein,” “Aao Huzur Tumko,” and “Ude Jab Jab Zulfein Teri,” Asha released hit after hit after hit. Before they split up, she recorded a song with him for the film ‘Pran Jaaye Par Vachan Na Jaye (1974) called ‘Chain Se’.

After these songs became a huge hit, other composers like S.D. Burman took notice of her. She collaborated with S.D. Burman on the soundtracks of several popular films, including Kaala Pani, Kaala Bazaar, Insaan Jaag Utha, Lajwanti, Sujata, and Teen Deviyaan, all of which included popular songs composed by S.D Burman. Asha Bhosle’s collaborations with Mohammed Rafi as well as Kishore Kumar were among the most well-known. Asha’s career peaked in the mid-1960s when she began working with R.D. Burman.

Teesri Manzil, a 1966 film, launched her career and earned her critical praise. A partnership between Asha and R.D Burman led to their marriage when they had a string of successful singles to their credit.

Helen, one of the era’s most elegant dancers, had Ashaji as her voice. When Helen was in the studio, she’d go see Ashaji to get a sense of the song’s vibe so she could arrange her moves appropriately. O Haseena Zulfon Wali (1966), “Piya Tu Ab To Aaja” (1971), and “Yeh Mere Dil”), three of her timeless classics starring Helen, are all from the film Teesri Manzil, which was released in 1966. (1978). With ease and precision, she changed her pitch from the high to low infamous song ‘Jane Ja’ from the movie Jawaani Diwaani (1972).

Dum Maro Dum, from the film Hare Rama Hare Krishna, showcased another aspect of her vocal range and ability. ‘Chura Liya Hai Tumne’ from the film Yaadon Ki Baarat is still sung today and is one of the best love songs that was ever written.

Asha disproved her detractors in 1981 with her stunning performance in the film Umrao Jaan, in which she sang exquisite Ghazals. She demonstrated that she can sing in various genres as well as classical. She was instructed to sing two semitones lower by the renowned Persian composer Khayyam. That’s history, as they say! The songs were huge hits and are still performed with grace and reverence today.

While working with relatively younger music composers like A.R. Rahman, Anu Malik, as well as Sandeep Chowta in the 1990s, she experimented with upbeat tunes such as “Tanha Tanha,” “Yaire,” “Kambakth Ishq,” and “Chori Pe Chori.” She created these successes. Her voice has been untouched by the passage of time, and she sounds the same as she did 30 years ago.

After competing against her older sister Lata Mangeshkar in mainstream Bollywood as a playback vocalist, Asha carved out a unique space for herself. She had a considerably broader range of songs under her belt at this point, including classical, western-influenced, pop, cabaret, and ghazals, among others. Instead of succumbing to the influence of her famous sister, she continued on experimenting with music and offering listeners songs that were both fun and enjoyable.

Music Releases and Live Performances

Image credits: Indian Express

Aside from her work in Bollywood as well as other regional films as a playback singer, Asha has collaborated with several of today’s top musical artists. Gulzar, Asha’s husband, and R.D. Burman, her lyricist, worked together to produce the 1987 album Dil Padosi Hai. She and musician Leslie Lewis collaborated on an Indipop album called Janam Samjha Karo in 1997. The album was a huge success, and it was honored with many MTV Video Music Awards.

Ashaji released Rahul and I in 2000, which included remixes of R.D. Burman’s songs. In 2002, she created the music for Majrooh Sultanpoori’s private album Aapki Asha, which included lyrics penned by her. Several artists, including Adnan Sami on ‘Kabhi to Nazar Milao,’ with whom she worked on their own albums.

Asha Bhosle has performed in concerts across the globe and collaborated with artists from other countries. She worked with the boy band Code Red on the song ‘Bow down mister,’ and performed alongside well-known artists like Boy George. Over the course of 20 days, she gave performances in 13 different places throughout the country. She performed before packed houses in cities across the world, including Stockholm, Dubai, London, and Canada.

FAQs About Asha Bhosle

Are Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhosle sisters?

Asha Bhosle is Lata Mangeshkar’s sister and a member of the illustrious Mangeshkar clan.

Who is Asha Bhosle’s husband?

Ganpatrao, Asha’s first husband, served as her private assistant when they were married. In 1960, their marriage was doomed from the start. In 1980, Asha was hitched to Rahul Dev Burman, a musician from Mumbai. Rahul and Asha were tying the knot for the second time.

Does Asha Bhosle still sing?

Singer Asha Bhosle, according to a recent article in Hindustan Times, has no intention of retiring. Before the COVID-19 epidemic, the singer said she performed three times live. Several of her live performances were postponed due to the COVID-19 issue. When things are normal again, she intends to continue her live performances.

How old is Asha Bhosle now?

On September 8 2021, the singer turned 88 years old, yet she still looks and acts like she’s still in her early seventies.

How much is Asha Bhosle worth?

Asha has restaurants all over the world, including Dubai, Kuwait, and Manchester, which contributes significantly to her enormous net worth. Asha Bhosle has an approximated net worth of $10 million, according to Movieanchor.


We hope you enjoyed this comprehensive bio on Asha Bhosle and have been inspired by her will to create a name for herself, and her skill that made her an entire country’s icon. To learn more about other notable personalities, keep reading Seema.