Asha Bhosle (born September 8, 1933), commonly referred to as Ashaji, is an Indian singer. She is best known as a playback singer in Hindi cinema, although she has a wider repertoire. Bhosle's career started in 1943 and has spanned over six decades. She has done playback singing for over a thousand Bollywood movies. In addition, she has recorded several private albums and participated in numerous solo concerts in India and abroad. Bhosle is the sister of playback singer Lata Mangeshkar.
Renowned for her voice range and often credited for her versatility, Bhosle's work includes film music, pop, ghazals, bhajans, traditional Indian classical music, folk songs, qawwalis, and Rabindra Sangeets. Apart from Hindi, she has sung in over 20 Indian and foreign languages. In 2006, Asha Bhosle stated that she had sung over 12,000 songs, a figure repeated by several other sources.
The World Records Academy, an international organization which certifies world records, recognised her as the "Most Recorded Artist" in the world, in September 2009. 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 honoured her with the Dadasaheb Phalke Award in 2000 and the Padma Vibhushan in 2008. In 2013, she made her debut as an actress in the film Mai, and received critical acclaim for her performance.
Asha Bhosle was born in the small hamlet of Goar in Sangli, Bombay Presidency (now in Maharashtra), into the musical family of Master Deenanath Mangeshkar, who belongs to Gomantak Maratha Samaj. Her father was a theater actor and classical singer. When she was nine years old, her father died. She and her elder sister Lata Mangeshkar began singing and acting in films to support their family.
Asha had spotted Pakistani singer Adnan Sami's talent when he was about 10 years old. At that time, she was performing in London, with R D Burman. It was she who had asked him to pursue his interests in music seriously. When Adnan grew up and became a professional musician, Asha sang the title duet with him for his best-selling album Kabhi to nazar milao.
In 2013, Bhosle debuted in the film Mai in the title role, at the age of 79. Bhosle played the role of a 65-year-old mother who suffers from Alzheimer's disease and is abandoned by her children. She received positive reviews for her acting as well from critics.
In the mid-1980s, Asha sang with Boy George ("Bow down mister") and Stephen Lauscombe. In 1997, she sang a love song with the boy band Code Red, at the age of 64. She also recorded the song "The Way you Dream" (One Giant Leap) with Michael Stipe that was used in the English movie, Bulletproof Monk. The song was also released on the album 1 Giant Leap for 2002.
Also in 2005, The Black Eyed Peas sampled her songs "Ae Naujawan Sab Kuchh Yahan" (Apradh, 1972) and "Yeh Mera Dil Pyaar Ka Diwana" (Don, 1978) in their hit single "Don't Phunk with My Heart". In late 2006, Asha collaborated with Australian test cricket star, Brett Lee. The single, You're the One for Me, debuted at number 4 on the charts and reached a peak position of number 2.
In 1997, the British band Cornershop paid tribute to Asha with their song "Brimful of Asha," an international hit which was later remixed by Fatboy Slim. In 2001, the CD single of Nelly Furtado's "I'm Like a Bird" included a "Nellie vs. Asha Remix" created by Digital Cutup Lounge.In 2003, British opera pop singer Sarah Brightman sampled her song "Dil Cheez Kya Hai" on her album Harem. It was used as the intro for her song "You Take My Breath Away".
Asha is a successful restaurateur and runs restaurants in Dubai and Kuwait, called Asha's. Asha's offers traditional north-western Indian cuisine. It has a presence in the Wafi City development in Dubai, as well as three restaurants in Kuwait, at The Avenues Mall, the Marina Mall and a brand new third outlet at the Spoons Complex. Other restaurants can be found in Abu Dhabi's Khaldiya Mall, Doha's Villagio and Bahrain's City Center Mall, with future outposts planned for Dubai's Mall of the Emirates and Cairo, Egypt. Asha Bhosle has a 20% stake in the business.
Asha is not involved in day-to-day running of the restaurant which is looked after by the Wafi Group. She takes care of the kitchen and the décor. She personally trained the chefs for almost six months. According to a December 2004 report in the Menu Magazine, Russell Scott, a former head of Harry Ramsden's (the fish and chips chain), secured the UK rights to the Asha's brand and planned to open up to 40 restaurants over the next five years. As part of her chain of restaurants, Asha has recently opened a new restaurant in Birmingham, UK.
She sang her first film song '"Chala Chala Nav Bala" for the Marathi film Majha Bal (1943). The music for the film was composed by Datta Davjekar. She made her Hindi film debut when she sang the song "Saawan Aaya" for Hansraj Behl's Chunariya (1948). Her first solo Hindi film song was for the movie Raat Ki Raani (1949).
At the age of 16, she eloped with 31-year-old Ganpatrao Bhosle, marrying him against her family's wishes. Ganpatrao was Lata's personal secretary. After a few years of marriage, Asha was turned out (around 1960) by a suspicious Ganpatrao and she went to her maternal home with two children and pregnant with her third child. She continued to sing in films to earn money.
Asha used to get the assignments by that time, prominent playback singers like Geeta Dutt, Shamshad Begum and Lata Mangeshkar refused: singing for the bad girls and vamps, or songs in the second-grade movies. In the 1950s, she sang more songs than most playback singers in Bollywood (not counting Lata). Singing in Sangdil (1952), composed by Sajjad Hussain, she got reasonable recognition. Consequently, film director Bimal Roy gave her a chance to sing in Parineeta (1953). Raj Kapoor signed her to sing "Nanhe Munne Bachche" with Mohammed Rafi in Boot Polish (1954), which gained popularity.
O. P. Nayyar gave Asha a break in C.I.D. (1956). She first achieved success in B. R. Chopra's Naya Daur (1957), composed by him. Her duets with Rafi like "Maang Ke Saath Tumhara", "Saathi Haath Badhana" and "Uden Jab Jab Zulfein Teri", penned by Sahir Ludhianvi, earned her recognition. It was the first time she sang all the songs for a film's leading actress.
Chopra approached her for several of his later productions, including Gumrah (1963), Waqt (1965), Hamraaz (1965), Aadmi Aur Insaan (1966) and Dhund (1973). Nayyar's future collaboration with Bhosle also resulted in success. Gradually, she established her status and received the patronage of such composers as Sachin Dev Burman and Ravi. Bhosle and Nayyar had a professional and personal parting of ways in the 1970s.
In 1966, Bhosle's performances in the duets from one of music director R.D. Burman's first soundtracks, for the movie Teesri Manzil, won popular acclaim. Reportedly, when she first heard the dance number "Aaja Aaja", she felt she would not be able to sing this westernised tune. While Burman offered to change the music, she refused, taking it as a challenge. She completed the song after ten days of rehearsals, and "Aaja Aaja", along with such other songs as "O Haseena Zulfonwali" and "O Mere Sona Re" (all three duets with Rafi), became successful. Shammi Kapoor, the film's leading actor, was once quoted as saying– "If I did not have Mohammad Rafi to sing for me, I would have got Asha Bhosle to do the job".
Bhosle's collaboration with Burman resulted in numerous hits and a marriage. During the 1960-70s, she was the voice of Bollywood's actress and dancer, Helen, on whom "O Haseena Zulfon Wali" was picturised. It is said that Helen would attend her recording sessions so that she could understand the song better and plan dance steps accordingly. Some of their other popular numbers include "Piya Tu Ab To Aaja" (Caravan) and "Yeh Mera Dil" (Don), among others. Asha used to call R D Burman "Bubs". She married him in 1980. Their partnership lasted until his death.
In 1981 she attempted a different genre by singing several ghazals for the Rekha-starrer Umrao Jaan, including "Dil Cheez Kya Hai", "In Aankhon Ki Masti Ke", "Yeh Kya Jagah Hai Doston" and "Justaju Jiski Thi". The film's music director Khayyam, had lowered her pitch by half a note. Bhosle herself expressed surprise that she could sing so differently. The ghazals won her the first National Film Award of her career. A few years later, she won another National Award for the song "Mera Kuchh Saamaan" from Ijaazat (1987).
In 1995, 62-year-old Bhosle sang for actress Urmila Matondkar in the movie Rangeela. The soundtrack featured songs like "Tanha Tanha" and "Rangeela Re" sung by her, and composed by music director A. R. Rahman, who would go on to record several songs with her. During the 2000s, several of Bhosle's numbers became chartbusters, including "Radha Kaise Na Jale" from Lagaan (2001), "Kambakht Ishq" from Pyaar Tune Kya Kiya (2001), "Yeh Lamha" from Filhaal (2002), "Lucky Lips" from Lucky (2005). In October 2004, The Very Best of Asha Bhosle, The Queen of Bollywood, a compilation album of songs recorded by Bhosle for albums and Bollywood films that were released between 1966 and 2003, was released.
Asha has won numerous other awards, including:
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