Queen of Melody
Asha’s exposure to music began in her days of infancy. Her father Dinanath was an accompanied classical vocalist and was very active in the theatre. When she was nine, her family moved to Mumbai, which was the place where she and her elder sister Lata Mangeshkar started singing. Her first song “Chala Chala Nav Bala” came in 1943 which was for a Marathi movie called Majha Bal. She made her Hindi film debut through the song “Saawan Aaya” for Hansraj Behl’s ‘Chunariya’.
Asha got married at the age of 16 to 31-year-old Ganpatrao Bhosle. The marriage did not work out so she returned to her maternal home and that was the time when other playback singers acquired prominent positions in the industry. The assignments which they used to refuse reached her; usually for second grade movies.
She sang for a variety of film directors and lyricists. The list includes Sajjad Hussain, A. R. Qureshi, and Ghulam Mohammed. This slow rise to stardom was punctuated by a few bright spots. In particular there was Dilip Kumar’s film “Sangdil” (1952), followed by “Parineeta” (1953), and “Boot Polish” (1954). 1956 marked a major turning point in Asha’s career. It was in this year that her work in O.P. Nayyar’s “C.I.D.” thrust her into public’s attention. After a number of successful songs in the movies of O.P. Nayyar, she became one of his favourite singers. This brought her to the attention of the fledgling R.D. Burman with whom she established an even stronger collaboration. However, the professional relationship between R.D. Burman and Asha Bhosle was destined to morph into something closer and they married in 1980.
Even in the first decade of the 21st century, Asha did not allow her age to stand in the way of embracing new music styles. This was demonstrated for productions such as the non-filmy ‘Janam Samjha Karo’. Asha has won seven Filmfare Best Female Playback Awards out of 18 nominations. She won her first two awards in 1967 and 1968. She is the most frequent winner of this award till date, tying with Alka Yagnik. She was also given a Special Award for Rangeela in 1996, and the Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award in 2001.