Asha Bhosle: Partnership with music directors
Music director O. P. Nayyar’s association with Asha Bhosle is part of Bollywood lore. He was the composer who first gave Asha her own distinct identity. Many people have speculated about a romantic relationship between the two.
Nayyar first met Asha in 1952, at the music recording of Chham Chhama Chham. He first called her for a film called Mangu (1954), and gave her a big break in CID (1956). However, it was the success of Naya Daur (1957), that made the duo very popular. After 1959, she was emotionally and professionally involved with
The team of O.P. Nayyar and Asha Bhosle is best remembered for their breezy and sometimes sirenish songs. Some good examples of their sensuous numbers are Aaiye meherbaan picturised on Madhubala (Howrah Bridge, 1958) and Yeh hai reshmi zulfon ka andhera picturised on Mumtaz (Mere Sanam, 1965). They recorded songs for many hit movies like Naya Daur (1957), Tumsa Nahin Dekha (1957), Howrah Bridge (1958), Ek Musafir Ek Hasina (1962), Kashmir Ki Kali (1964), etc. Some of their most popular songs include Aao huzur tumko (Kismat), Jaaiye aap kahan (Mere Sanam) etc. O.P. Nayyar used the Asha Bhosle-Mohammad Rafi duo for his most popular duets. some of these songs include Ude jab jab zulfein teri (Naya Daur). Main pyaar ka rahi hoon (Ek Musafir Ek Haseena), Deewana Hua Baadal, Ishaaron hi isharon mein (Kashmir Ki Kali) etc.
Asha recorded her last song for O.P. Nayyar in the movie Pran Jaye Par Vachan Na Jaye (1974). The solo number Chain se got many awards, but it was not included in the movie.
They split on August 5, 1972. It is not clear what made them part their ways. On being asked the reason for their parting, O P Nayyar once said, “I know astrology very well. I knew that one day I had to part with her. Something also happened, that upset me, so I left her.” Nevertheless, he also said “…now that I am seventy-six, I can say that the most important person in my life was Asha Bhosle. She was the best person I ever met.”
The parting of Asha Bhosle and O.P. Nayyar was bitter, and probably therefore she has hesitated to give Nayyar his due. While talking about O.P. Nayyar in an interview with The Times of India, she once remarked – “Whichever composer gave me work, it was because my voice was suited to his music at that point. No one musician did me any favor by asking me to sing for him.” She gives the credit for her first big break to B. R. Chopra, the producer of Naya Daur.
Another music director who recognized Bhosle’s talent early was Khayyam. His partnership with Asha Bhosle dates back to his first movie Biwi (1948). Khayyam gave her some good assignments in the 1950s, including Dard and Phir Subah Hogi. But the team is chiefly remembered for the songs of Umrao Jaan.
Music composer Ravi considered Asha as one of his favorite singers. She sang for his first movie Vachan (1955). The melodious lullaby from the movie, Chandamama door ke became an overnight hit among young mothers in India. Ravi got her to sing bhajans for the movies Gharana, Grihasti, Kajal and Phool Aur Patthar, at a time when most of the composers remembered her only when they needed to record B-grade songs picturized on the vamps or the side-heroines. Ravi and Asha Bhosle recorded a variety of songs, including the popular funny duet with Kishore Kumar – C A T…Cat maane billi (Dilli Ka Thug). The bhajan Tora man darpan (Kajal) is considered one of Asha Bhosle’s best songs.
They also recorded songs for many popular movies like Waqt, Chaudhvin Ka Chand, Gumrah, Bahu Beti, China Town, Aadmi Aur Insaan, Dhund, Humraaz, and Kajal with her. For Chaudhvin Ka Chand, Ravi wanted Geeta Dutt (the wife of producer Guru Dutt) to sing the songs. But when she backed out, Guru Dutt insisted that Asha Bhosle sing the songs.
Sachin Dev Burman (SD Burman)
One of Bollywood’s most famous composers, Sachin Dev Burman and his favorite singer, Lata Mangeshkar, were not on good terms from 1957 to 1962.. During this period, S D Burman used Asha Bhosle as his lead female voice. She and S D Burman gave many hit songs in movies such as Kaala Pani, Kaala Bazaar, Insaan Jaag Utha, Lajwanti, Sujata and Teen Deviyaan (1965). They recorded many songs together after 1962 as well. Most famous of these songs were Asha Bhosle’s duets with Mohammed Rafi and Kishore Kumar. The song Ab ke baras in Bimal Roy’s Bandini (1963) consolidated her position as a lead singer. The seductive song Raat Akeli Hai from Jewel Thief (1967), picturised on Tanuja, became very popular.
Rahul Dev Burman (Pancham)
Asha first met Rahul Dev Burman (a.k.a. “Pancham”) when she was a mother of two and he was in 10th grade having dropped out to pursue music. Their partnership was first noticed in Teesri Manzil (1966). She went on to record a variety of songs with him – cabarets, rock, disco, ghazals, Indian classical music and many more.
In the 1970s, Asha Bhosle and Pancham’s youthful, Western songs took Bollywood music by storm – the raunchy cabaret Piya tu ab to aaja (Caravan, 1971, picturized on Helen), the rebellious Dum Maro Dum ( Hare Rama Hare Krishna, 1971), the sexy Duniya mein (Apna Desh, 1972), the romantic Chura Liyaa Hai Tumne (Yaadon Ki Baaraat, 1973). Pancham also recorded many hit duets with Asha Bhosle and Kishore Kumar – Jaane jaan, dhoondhta phir raha (Jawani Diwani), Bhali bhali si ek soorat (Buddha Mil Gaya) etc.
In 1980s, Pancham and Asha Bhosle recorded subtle numbers for films like Ijaazat (1987)- Mera kuch saaman, Khaali haath shaam aayi hai, Katra Katra. They also recorded the popular duet O Maria (Saagar). Mera Kuchch saamaan, the R.D. Burman composition for Gulzar’s Ijaazat won her the National Award for Best Singer.
Asha Bhosle used to call R D Burman “Bubs”. She married him in 1980. Their partnership lasted until his death.
RD Burman made her sing some of the most legendary songs in Bengali language as well, namely Mohuyae Jomechhe Aaj mou go,Chokhe Chokhe kotha bolo Chokhhe naame brishti(Bengali version of Jaane Kya Baat hai), Baanshi sune ki ghore thaka jaye,Sondhya Belae tumi aami,Aaj Gungun gun gunje amar (Bengali version of Pyaar Deewana hota hai),etc.
The prolific south Indian film composer Ilaiyaraaja began employing Asha Bhosle’s vocals in the early 1980s, their earliest collaboration being for the film Moondram Pirai (1982) (or Sadma, its Hindi remake in 1983). Their association continued, mostly through the latter half of the 1980s and early 1990s. Some of their notable songs from this period include Shenbagamae (Enga Ooru Paattukkaaran, 1987, Tamil). In 2000, Asha sung Ilaiyaraaja’s theme song for Kamal Haasan’s political film Hey Ram. The song, Janmon Ki Jwala (or Aparna’s Theme), was a duet with ghazal singer Hariharan.
A. R. Rahman
A. R. Rahman is given the credit for Asha Bhosle’s “comeback” with Rangeela (1994). Songs like Tanha Tanha and Rangeela Re were chartbusters. She and Rahman went on to record more hits like Mujhe Rang De (Thakshak), Radha Kaise Na Jale (Lagaan, duet with Udit Narayan), Kahin Aag Lage (Taal), O Bhanware (Daud, duet with K. J. Yesudas), Venilla Venilla (Iruvar,1999). Rahman once said, “I think of them (Lata and Asha) only when I feel I have composed something that fits their stature”.
When S D Burman’s assistant Jaidev started giving music independently, he got Asha to sing some of his songs as well. They worked in Hum Dono (1961), Mujhe Jeene Do (1963), Do Boond Pani (1971) and other movies. In 1971, the pair released an LP of eight non-film devotional songs and ghazals called An Unforgettable Treat. Asha considered Jaidev a close friend who stood by her when she was struggling personally and professionally. Upon his death in 1987, she released a compilation album of lesser-known songs he had composed for her, called Suranjali.
Shankar Jaikishan worked relatively little with Asha. However, the team produced quite a few hits including the seductive Parde mein rehne do (Shikar, 1968). Asha got her second Filmfare Award for the song. Asha also sang the song Zindagi ek safar hai suhaana (Andaz) for Shankar Jaikishan, in which she tried to yodel like Kishore Kumar, whose version of the song is more better known. When Raj Kapoor was not on speaking terms with Lata Mangeshkar, Asha got to sing the songs of Mera Naam Joker (1970), composed by Shankar-Jaikishan.
Composer Anu Malik and Asha have recorded many hit songs together, including songs for his first movie Sohni Mahiwal (1984). Their most popular songs include Filhaal (Filhaal), Kitabein bahut si (Baazigar) among others. The four lines sung by Asha in Anu Malik’s Jab dil mile (Yaadein) stood out among voices of Sukhwinder Singh, Udit Narayan and Sunidhi Chauhan. Asha had also sung for Anu Malik’s father Sardar Malik in the 1950s and 1960s, most notably in Saranga (1960).
Madan Mohan recorded a number of songs with Asha, including the popular folk number Jhumka Gira Re from Mera Saaya (1966). In Chhoti Si Baat (1975), Asha sang the Jaaneman Jaaneman number with K. J. Yesudas for Salil Chowdhury. Salil’s 1956 movie Jagte Raho also had a number recorded by Asha, Thandi Thandi Saawan ki Phuhaar. Another Asha patron is the young composer Sandeep Chowta, who got her to sing Kambakht Ishq (A duet with Sonu Nigam) (Pyaar Tune Kya Kiya, 2001). The song gained major popularity among the Indian youth.
Asha has worked with Lata-patrons like Laxmikant-Pyarelal, Naushad, Ravindra Jain, N Dutta, Hemant Kumar. Once when Naushad was asked to sum up the essential difference between Lata and Asha, he said that Asha “lacks certain something which Lata, and Lata alone has”. Later he accepted in an interview, “May be I said it because I then had a closed ear on Asha”. Naushad, later in his life, also admitted that he has been unfair to Asha Bhonsle. Asha has also worked with other noted Bollywood composers like Jatin Lalit, Bappi Lahiri, Kalyanji Anandji, Usha Khanna, Chitragupt, and Roshan.