Rays of Asha: The Diva’s hits in the millennium

Ever in sync with today: Asha Bhsole entered her 90th year on September 8. Photo: Publicity Photo

Asha Bhosle, who turns 89 on September 8, has been singing now for almost 80 years in films! Beginning her career with the song Chala chala navbala in the Marathi (her mother-tongue) film Mazha Bal under Datta Davjekar’s baton in 1943, she made her debut in Hindi (which accounts for the most of her 11,000-plus recordings) with the song Saawan aaya (with Geeta Dutt and Zohrabai Ambalewali as the third voice!) in Chunariya (1948) with music by Hansraj Behl.

Her 1950s memorabilia is led by Naya Daur, her first break as the sole singer for a top heroine (Vyjayantimala) in a big film. The 1960s are best noted for Jaiyye aap kahaan jayenge (Mere Sanam) and other hits for O.P. Nayyar, the 1970s for an array of R.D. Burman chartbusters like Dum maro dum in Hare Rama Hare Krishna, the 1980s largely for Bappi Lahiri hits like Jawani jaaneman (Namak Halaal) and—after her first and only dull phase after reaching the top—the 1990s for the songs of Rangeela.

After such a solid career in the last century (!), Asha, with her perennial young image (thanks to her songs and associates as well as her forward-thinking and positive attitude), continues to shine in the millennium, though she barely sings now.  As proof, we present the 12 hits she has rendered in Hindi films in the last 22 years, which also saw her major non-film hit, Kabhi to nazar milao from Adnan Sami’s album.

Chori pe chori (Saathiya) with Karthik / 2002

This A.R. Rahman song, filmed in a sensual and saucy mode on Vivek Oberoi and Shamita Shetty, maintained an audiovisual rhythm of its own. The young were shown letting their hair down in this groovy dance number full of abandon.

Huzoor-e-ala (Page 3) with Abhijeet / 2005

Known always for seductive and naughty serenades of all hues so far as her solos were concerned, Asha dazzled in this Hrishitaa Bhatt number composed by Shameer Tandon. Asha, incidentally, dubbed this song from abroad while the composer was in Mumbai. Sandeep Nath wrote this fluffy track.

Jaaneman jaaneman (Kaho Naa…Pyaar Hai) / 2000

Amisha Patel was another new face for whom Asha Bhosle lent her voice, over 50 years after she started out as an adult! Sadhana, Sharmila Tagore and Rekha are among the great actresses whose careers were launched with Asha’s voice. Rajesh Roshan composed this exquisite party dance number in which the heroine teasingly asks the hero (Hrithik Roshan) to focus on her charms.

Jab dil miley (Yaadein) with Udit Narayan and Sukhwinder Singh / 2001

Anu Malik and Anand Bakshi composed this peppy track for Hrithik Roshan and Kareena Kapoor Khan. There were subtle vocal nuances in the song that Asha effortlessly vocalized for the youngest big star she has sung for. Anu Malik knew why he had to employ these seasoned vocals for this composition.

A young Asha Bhosle. Photo: Publicity Photo

Kambakth ishq (Pyaar Tune Kya Kiya) with Sonu Nigam and Sukhwinder Singh / 2001

This song was filmed on Urmila Matondkar and Fardeen Khan as a trendy music video. After all, producer Ram Gopal Varma had initiated the process of converting songs into independent music videos in Western mode with Rangeela. The song became so iconic that an Akshay Kumar-Kareena Kapoor film was named after it. Sandeep Chowta’s music and Nitin Raikwar’s lyrics emphasized the desperation of the heroine for love.

Khalaas (Company) with Sapna Awasthi and Sudesh Bhonsle / 2002

Ram Gopal Varma never forgot the singer he brought back to center-stage with Rangeela. He gave her yet another frenetic number lip-synched by a hot Ishaa Koppikar. It is incredible how Asha’s voice perfectly fitted the genre of a Western-oriented music video as well as actresses young enough to be her granddaughters, thus demonstrating what real playback singing is all about!  Sandeep Chowta and Nitin Raikwar entered a new zone here within the same genre as the earlier song.

Lucky lips (Lucky—No Time For Love) / 2005

Asha Bhosle sang literally for a schoolgirl—played by Sneha Ullal—with romantic aspirations. The Adnan Sami composition ranks among his most attractive in his work in Hindi cinema. The ebullient lyrics by Sameer and the olde-worlde Western orchestration had a piquant charm.

With husband R.D. Burman and Shakti Samanta. Photo: Shakti Films

Mehbooba o mehbooba (Aap Ka Surroor) with Himesh Reshammiya / 2007

The story goes that a not-ill-intentioned Himesh Reshammiya remark on R.D. Burman had upset Asha, and that made the composer (now a singer and actor as well!) pay tribute to the late senior (also Asha’s husband) with the re-creation of the latter’s iconic song from Sholay. Himesh even brought in Asha as singer for Mallika Sherawat, another blossoming actress this then-74 years-‘young’ singer fitted like a glove.

Prem mein tohre (Begum Jaan) / 2017

This litany of longing was a raag-based stunner from a period social made by the Bhatts and directed by Srijit Mukherji. Its lyrics fitted all the female protagonists of the story, each of whom had their love stories of diverse hues. The song was composed by Anu Malik and written by Kausar Munir and ranks among the finest songs Asha has sung both for him and the Bhatts’ musical banner.

Radhe kaise na jale (Lagaan) with Udit Narayan / 2001

A.R. Rahman got into delightful North Indian mode with this duet with Udit Narayan. The lyrics by Javed Akhtar harped on Radha and Krishna playfully teasing each other, with Radha expressing her ‘jealousy’ as Krishna flirts with someone else.

Sharara sharara (Mere Yaar Ki Shaadi Hai) with Sonu Nigam / 2002

Asha Bhosle’s only song for Jeet Gannguli and Pritam Bhattacharya, then working together as a duo, Jeet-Pritam, was a situational sizzler in the film. The lyrics were by Javed Akhtar and the now cult song has over 155,000, 000 views on YouTube. Once again, the song was filmed on Shamita Shetty.

Yeh lamha filhaal (Filhaal) / 2002

The title-track of the Meghna Gulzar film echoed the dreams of the lead character (Sushmita Sen) and was composed by Anu Malik, the other composer who used Asha’s skills best in the millennium besides Rahman. This song had two common points with the earlier song: lyricist Gulzar and the seashore. Asha’s wistful rendition, as mandated by the words, belied her age but attested the fact that she had been already singing for six decades.



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