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Asha Bhonsle - a Tribute to the Legendary Indian Bollywood Singer

Rajan is a botany and chemistry major. He has worked as a poultry breeder for 23 years, breeding layer and broiler parents.

About Asha Bhonsle

Asha Bhonsle is an Indian Bollywood singer. A living legend, she has trained in Indian classical music.

Asha was born on September 8, 1933. Though she is not very active in playback singing these days ( She is 79 yrs old), she ruled the playback singing arena from the 1950s to the 1990s, along with her elder sister, Lata Mangeshkar.

A very versatile singer Asha Bhonsle has sung a variety of song genres like playful love songs, breezy and fast-paced, lusty cabaret numbers, soulful ghazals, sensual numbers, subtle, classical, folk, pop, disco, qawwalis, bhajans etc.

Asha has sung over 12000 songs, in over 20 Indian languages. The World Records Academy, an international organization that certifies world records certified her as the "Most Recorded Artist" in the world in September 2009.

Early Life

Asha Bhonsle was born in a small village, Goar, in Sangli district of Maharastra state of India. Her father Master Dina Nath Mangeshkar was a classical singer and a theatre actor.

She lost her father when she was just 9 years old. She along with her family moved to Mumbai. To support the family Asha and her elder sister, Lata Mangeshkar, started singing in films. Asha sang her first song for a Marathi film in 1943 at age 10.

At the age of 15, Asha sang her first Hindi film song in the film "Chunariya". Her first solo song was for the film "Raat Ki Rani" in 1949.

She married Ganpat Rao, at the age of 16. As her family was against this marriage she eloped with him. The marriage, however, didn't last long and ended in 1960. These were very difficult times in her singing career.

Initially, she either got to sing the rejected songs of the then leading playback singing female trio of Geeta Dutt, Shamshad Begum and her sister Lata Mangeshkar or she got to sing in B and C grade, low budget, films especially for the vamps in these films.

Around the late 50's she got recognised when for the first time she sang all the songs for a film Naya Daur", that were well-liked. Her duets with Mohammed Rafi in this film became very popular.

In the '60s & '70s, she established her status as the No 2 leading female playback singer behind Lata Mangeshkar who was at the top.

The variety of her singing repertoire can be gauged from some songs presented below.

Film - Howrah Bridge

For the film "Howrah Bridge", Asha Bhonsle sang a very sensuous number "Aaiye Meherbaan" under the music direction of O.P.Nayyar. The song was a hit.

Song - Aaiye Meherban

Film - Caravan (1971)

Asha was the playback voice for the famous dancer Helen in the '60s and the '70s. Helen's cabaret dances ere a regular feature in the films of this period. Here Asha sings the song "Piya Tu Ab To Aaja" from the film "Caravan". She got the Filmfare award for the 'best playback singer' for this song.

Song -Piya Tu ab To aaja

Film - Hare Rama Hare krishna

She again bagged the Filmfare award for the Best playback female singer for the song "Dum Maro Dum" from the movie "Hare Rama Here Krishna" in 1973. Listen to it here.

Song - Dum Maro Dum

Scroll to Continue

Film - Rangeela

In 1996 Asha Bhonsle received a special award for singing the song "Rangeela Re" for the film "Rangeela" for a girl hardly 20. She was 62 then. Listen to this song here.

Song - Rangeela Re

Film - Umrao Jaan

In the 1980s she got tired of being stereotyped as a singer of cabaret and pop songs. She tried a different genre of songs - the ghazals. Her Ghazals for the film Umrao Jaan under the music direction of Khaiyyam were all hits.

Asha Bhonsle won her first National Film Award for the song "Dil Cheez Kya Hai" for the film Umrao Jaan. Listen to it here.

Song - Dil Cheez Kya Hai

Film - Ijaazat

In 1986, Asha Bhonsle won the National Film Award again for the song "Mera Kuch Saaman" for the film Ijaazat" under the music direction of R.D.Burman. Listen to it here.

Song - Mera Kuch Saaman

Asha Bhonsle & O.P.Nayyar

Asha gave her best under the music direction of O.P.Nayyar, producing many of her finest songs from breezy, bubbly, sirenish and sensuous songs. After the success of songs of the film Naya Daur in 1957 which became hits, this duo got emotionally involved as well.

However, after working with O.P.Nayyar and giving an array of melodious songs, the duo parted ways in 1972 for reasons undisclosed.

Listen to the song "Chain Se Humko Kabhi" from the film Pran Jaye Par Vachan Na Jaye".

Song - Chain Se Humko kabhi

Asha Bhonsle & R.D.Burman

Asha's professional association with music composer R.D.Burman started in 1966 when she sang songs for the film "Teesri manzil'. Under his music direction, Asha sang all types of songs from sexy to romantic, cabaret to rebellious, ghazals to disco, pop to classical.

Asha married R.D.Burman in 1980. They remained married till R.D's death in 1994.

Asha With Music Director R.D.Burman

Film -The Train

Asha singing for the music composer R.D.Burman in the movie "Apna Desh" and the song is Duniya Mein. The male voice is R.D.Burman's.

Song - Duniya Mein

Asha Bhonsle Singing Aao Huzoor Tumko

Asha Bhonsle Singing Jab Andhera Hota Hai

Duets With Kishore & Rafi

Asha sang innumerable duets with the leading lights of male playback singing in Bollywood. Two of her memorable and very popular duets with Mohd Rafi and Kishore Kumar, 2 Bollywood legends in their own right are presented here.

The duet with Kishore Kumar is from the film Andaz and the song is " Zindagi Ik Safar Hai Suhana". In this and the only song ever, Asha has tried her hand at yodelling like Kishore who was a master at such stuff.

The second song is a duet with the legendary Mohd. Rafi who had a divine voice that could bring out the finesse and purity of any note of the musical scale. The duet with Rafi is from the movie " Teesri Manzil" and the song is Aaja Aaja Main Hoon Pyar Tera.

Awards, Honours And Recognitions

Asha Bhonsle received numerous awards, honours and recognitions in her illustrious career. The list is too long to enumerate here. Some of them are :

  • She won the Filmfare awards for the best female playback singer 7 times from 1968-1979, after which she voluntarily withdrew her name from the future nominations to promote new talent.
  • She won the National Film Award for the best female singer 2 times.
  • Best lifetime achievement award from UK Prime Minister Tony Blair
  • First Indian Singer to be nominated for the Grammy Award, for Legacy, an album with Ustad Akbar khan
  • Dada Saheb Phalke Award for outstanding contribution to Indian Cinema.
  • Padma Vibhushan from The Govt Of India
  • Guinness Book Of World Records entered her name as the most recorded artist in the history of music.

Besides this, she collaborated with many international artists like Bay George (Bow down mister) & Stephen Lenscombe, the boy band "Code Red", sang a song 'The way You Dream' with Michael Stipe, used in the English film " Bulletproof Monk".

Some Personal Facts About Asha Bhonsle

  • Asha stays in Mumbai. She has 3 children & 5 grandchildren.
  • Asha is an excellent cook & a successful restaurateur, owns restaurants in Dubai, Kuwait, Abu Dhabi, Doha & Bahrain.
    She has given rights to opening a chain of restaurants in the UK under her name" Asha".
  • She is always dressed in shimmering embroidered sarees, the white colour being her favourite, pearls and diamonds.
  • She is a good mimicry artist.
  • She is writing her autobiography.

My other hubs on Bollywood Singing Legends

© 2012 Rajan Singh Jolly


Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on October 02, 2020:

Yes, Asha is a very versatile singer. Glad you like the article. Thank you, Vanita.

Vanita Thakkar on October 02, 2020:

One of my favourite singers - very versatile and talented - an inspiration to every Indian music aspirant. Love her songs and loved reading about her.

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on October 03, 2013:

Thanks for reading Mahavir.

Mahaveer Sanglikar from Pune, India on September 29, 2013:

Asha is my favorite singer. Thank you for sharing such a detailed information about her.

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on December 01, 2012:

Hi Audra, nice to learn you are a Bollywood fan. glad you liked the personal facts section. Asha is indeed a legendary talent. Thanks for stopping by.

AudraLeigh on November 30, 2012:

I really like your Personal Facts positive! I am new to Bollywood films and loved'Om Shanti Om'! I think I would like to check some of these movies out! Asha is indeed a talent!

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on October 05, 2012:

Hi Danson,

Asha is truly a legend having achieved so much in her profession. I'm glad you spared time to read and comment. Thank you.

Danson Wachira from Nairobi, Kenya on October 05, 2012:

Hi Rajan,

Thanks for bringing the story of this great and talented singer. Having sung over 12000 songs, being nominated for Grammy award and being the most recorded artist in the history of music....those are great achievements for a singer anywhere in the world. Voted up and useful.

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on September 21, 2012:

Millionaire Tips,

She is a wonderful singer. Nice to know you have heard this talented singer singing. Thanks for stopping by.

Shasta Matova from USA on September 20, 2012:

I have one of her greatest hits DVD albums, and it is so wonderful to be able to hear the great range of her singing. It was great to know more about her, and learn the background of the songs. Voted up.

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on September 12, 2012:

I'm glad you liked the info, the music and dance. Music and dance are the soul of Indian films.Thanks for stopping by .

Kelly Umphenour from St. Louis, MO on September 12, 2012:

Neat Rajan! I love the Bollywood music! The dancing too! Thanks for an interesting tale about this singer. Sounds like she is stubborn but persistent!

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on September 08, 2012:

@ sweetie - Yes Asha has always been overshadowed by Lata but she is a great singer in her own right. Thanks for reading.

@ GTF - I'm glad you listened to that song. there are innumerable songs that show the range this singer has.

Thank you for appreciating my tributes. Hubpages has given me a platform where the community is so wonderfully supportive of such efforts.

I'm really thankful you spared time to read a hub which many would just pass over as it is an offbeat one. Thank you very much.

Claudia Porter on September 08, 2012:

I'm really enjoying your tributes. They are really well done. What a lovely lady. The Rangeela song was beautiful.

sweetie2 from Delhi on September 08, 2012:

Today is her 79th birthday and she has been always shadowed under the might of her sister but she is absolutely wonderful and i was reading a couple of days ago that she even sanged more songs than Lata. Really a wonderfully talented singer.

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on September 07, 2012:

Pamela, Asha indeed is blessed with a unique voice and talent. I really appeciate your stopping by to read and leave your comments. Thank you.

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on September 07, 2012:

Thanks, Carol. Your support is always appreciated. I'm glad you liked it.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on September 07, 2012:

Such a beautiful voice! She is obviously a very talented lady and this hub really featured all of her talents very well.

carol stanley from Arizona on September 07, 2012:

I always learn something new from you. Lovely tribute. Vote UP.

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on September 07, 2012:

spicenlove, thanks for appreciating.

spicenlove on September 06, 2012:

Nice Hub... Love her voice! voted up!!

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