Asha Bhosle, super-famous Dutta maasi from the 1970s movie Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro, is arguably the most famous Indian singer alive today. She was born in Kolkata in 1942 and began her music career by singing at local parties while still a student at St. Xavier’s School. After winning many competitions, she went on to become a playback singer for Hindi movies, with over 1000 songs under her belt.
Asha began her solo career in 1964 when she released her first single “Tum Hi Ho”, which quickly became a hit and remains one of the most popular songs by one of India’s best-known singers to this day.
About Asha Bhosle
- She is the older sister of singer Lata Mangeshkar.
- In 1971, she received the Padma Shri from the Indian government.
- She has been awarded a Grammy for Best Traditional World Music Album twice, for her work on Chants of India and Rafi’s Best (1999) and (2002).
- She was awarded the prestigious “Taal Ratna” in 2001 for her outstanding contribution to the film industry.
Life of Bhosle
Asha Bhosle was born at 9:00 am on September 8, 1943, in the Konar Bangla area of Kolkata. She is one of four children of Jogesh Chandra Mahanta and Gita Mahanta.
Asha first met music director Salil Chowdhury, who had been a student at St Xavier’s College in Kolkata where Asha studied until the sixth grade. When her family moved to Bandra, Mumbai (CST), Salil was the music supervisor for a film made by Asha’s husband and father-in-law Prithviraj Kapoor. The two eventually began meeting in secret, before rekindling their friendship after Salil graduated from college.
At age 16, when Asha Bhosle was still in high school, she met music director Kalyanji-Anandji, who asked her to sing for him. She also appeared in a couple of films as a child artiste.
She did her graduation from La Martiniere College, where she studied to the sixth grade.
Asha Bhosle began working in films when she was seventeen years old after graduating from high school. She received her first break at age 21 for singing the title song for “Kala Pani” (1965). A Hindi remake of Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew”, the film starred Rajendra Kumar and Nanda and was directed by Shankar Jaikishan. Asha’s first major hit was “Tumhi Ho Bandhu Sakha Tumhi” for director Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s film “Guddi” (1971) with Sahir Ludhianvi’s lyrics. She sang one of the six songs featured in the film. Her three sisters (Lata, Meena, and Hridaynath) provided backing vocals.
The producers of the movie Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron were looking for two playback singers who could sing well in comedy situations, as they were casting Kishore Kumar and Ravi in the leading roles. Lata Mangeshkar recommended Asha to her brother-in-law Shyam, who was producing the movie.
Partnership with music directors
Songs with O. P. Nayyar
Asha Bhosle had a good rapport with music director O. P. Nayyar. The first song they worked on together was “Miyan ki Barati” (1966), which also featured Asha’s brother Lata Mangeshkar. The pair went on to work together again for films like “Raaj Kumar” (1966), “Awaara” (1967) and “Mere Apne” (1969).
Partnership with Kalyanji-Anandji
She met music director duo Kalyanji-Anandji for the first time in 1964 when she auditioned for a role in their period film, “Nagarjuna”. She was successful in landing the role, but before filming began she was not willing to sign a contract for three years and the offer was eventually withdrawn.
Partnership with R. D. Burman
Asha Bhosle has worked with music director R. D. Burman on over 60 films, starting with “Bobby” (1973). Their first appearance together in a film was through the song “Hothon Pe Aisi Baat”, from the movie “Mere Apne” (1969).
Partnership with Laxmikant-Pyarelal
She has also sung many successful songs with music director duo Laxmikant-Pyarelal. She sang films like “Aap Ki Kasam” (1973), “Namak Haraam” (1973), “Sholay” (1975) and “Ganga Jamuna Saraswati” (1984).
Partnership with Ravi
Asha Bhosle had a successful association with music director Ravi, beginning in 1975 when he first worked on “Sholay”. The pair worked together on over 30 of their songs in the following years.
Partnership with S. D. Burman
Another music director duo Asha Bhosle has worked with are S. D. Burman and Rajesh Roshan, including movies like “Amar Akbar Anthony” (1977), “Sarfaroshi Ki Tamanna” (1980), “Dillagi” (1981) and “Baghban” (1987).
Partnership with Kalyanji-Anandji
Asha Bhosle also worked with music director duo Kalyanji-Anandji again in the 1990s when she recorded “Naina Re” for the film “Yaraana” (1995).
Partnership with A. R. Rahman
Asha has also collaborated with A. R. Rahman on two separate occasions, once in 2000 for a song on the album “Chitrahaar”, and again in 2004 for the film “Baabul”. The first was for the song “Mere Santoor Main” and the second was for “O Salute”.
Asha’s Personal Life
Asha Bhosle has been married three times. Her first husband was actor Raj Kapoor, whom she married in 1964. The couple had one son, Shashi Kapoor, who became a famous Bollywood actor and film producer himself. She also has a son named Rajiv Kapoor from her second marriage to actor Prithviraj Kapoor. Prithviraj died from a heart attack in 1999. Later, she remarried to choreographer Siddharth Roy Kapur who died of pancreatic cancer in 2003 at the age of 53.
Asha Bhosle has worked with music directors in India and across the world, including Italy and Germany. Like Lata Mangeshkar, she too has held several live performances abroad.
Asha, along with her younger sister Lata Mangeshkar, has been revered by fans across the world.
She is passionate about classical Indian music and was instrumental in popularising it in Bollywood songs. Her singing style intermingles genres including classical Indian ragas, pop melodies, filmi tunes and even ghazals.
Her work throughout her musical career spans almost every type of musical genre in India – from light classical to ghazal to pop to folk to devotional – active since the 1950s through 2005.
Awards and Honor
Asha Bhosle has won a number of awards in her long career, including the titles of the ‘Lata Mangeshkar Award’ and ‘The Best Female Singer Award’ at the Asianet Film Awards. She has also received two National Film Awards for Best Supporting Actress for films “Awaara” (1967) and “Aar Paar” (1968).
Asha got a lifetime achievement award from the Government of India in 2004. She was awarded an honorary doctorate by Dr A. P. J. Abdul Kalam Technological University, Kerala in 2006.