Asha Bhosle has give us so many songs to cherish.
But there are so many, many more that one may not have heard of.
On Ashaji‘s 89th birthday on September 8, Subhash K Jha revisits some of her lesser-known classics.
Do Boondein Sawan Ki
Phir Subah Hogi (1958)
At a time when Lata Mangeshkar reigned supreme, Khayyam made music of sobriety with Asha.
While her title song with Mukesh got famous, this plaintive solo got left behind.
Do Boondein Sawan Ki is a wistful reminder of what Asha was capable of, if given a chance.
Jaane Kya Haal Ho
Maa Ka Aanchal (1970)
It was always a major grievance with Asha that Madan Mohan did not allow her to sing his great ghazals.
This was her chance to soar because reportedly this small-budget film (starring Anjana Mumtaz and Sanjeev Kumar) could not afford Ms Mangeshkar.
The ghazal that Asha sang for Madan Mohan possessed the tempo and emotional richness of an all-time classic.
Asha gave the song her best shot, hoping it would rank somewhere near the immortal ghazals of Lata by Madan Mohan.
Naina Hain Pyase Mere
Composer Kanu Roy had already elevated the songs of Basu Bhattacharya’s Anubhav to seemingly insurmountable heights in the voice of Geeta Dutt.
Remember Koi Chupke Se Aake and Mujhe Jaan Na Kaho?
From the outset, Asha had elected Geeta as her prime competitor.
In Aavishkar, she had the chance to sing a song that was designed for Geeta Dutt.
In Naina Hain Pyase Mere, Asha’s vocal-control and her penchant for painting emotions are more than palpable.
Main Ja Rahi Thi Lekin
As the matriarch who watches her loved ones migrate to the city, Durga Khote delivered an outstanding performance.
If there’s one single moment that we remember her by, it’s the moment when her grandson arrives to give the lonely woman company during her last days.
The relief, joy, ecstasy, gratitude and resurrection of faith in humanity expressed in the line ‘Achhe samay pe tum aaye Krishna’ by Asha fills our hearts with an unbearable ache.
Saathi Re Bhool Na Jaana Mera Pyaar
Kotwaal Saab (1977)
Ravindra Jain’s jewel in Asha’s croon is a complex tune, conveying waves of emotions of a woman, who is grateful for the gift of love but also fearful of losing it.
Asha expresses a joie de vivre as well as uncertainty in this brilliant song.
Yeh Saaye Hain Duniya Hai
In the great big bustle known as life, there are soothing stopovers that diminish our despair and fatigue.
This song — about the sham and illusion of showbiz, written by Gulzar — is full of sighing nostalgia.
Raat Jo Tune Deep Bujhaye Mere The
Non-film album, Meraj-e-Ghazal (1983)
The voice articulates the feeling of a shattered heart.
More than the songs of Umrao Jaan, the album Meraj-e-Ghazal — recorded in collaboration with Ghulam Ali — witnessed Asha at her best.
Jeene De Yeh Duniya
A lean season had set into R D Burman’s career for no fault of his.
He was, after all, the composer who created such tunes as Dekho Yeh Kaun Aaya (Savere Wali Gadi), O Meri Jaan (Manzil Manzil) and, of course, Jeene De Yeh Duniya.
Though defeated in the charts, it was another kind of triumph.
The song’s lyrics not only signified the determination to conquer all opposition to love, it also epitomised Pancham’s determination to return to past glory.
Asha’s vocals (accompanied by singer-cum-cinematographer Manmohan Singh) were seldom in better shape.
Umeed Hogi Koi
Dil Padosi Hai (1987)
The inborn power of Gulzar’s poetry has seldom been more poignantly projected.
In this song about waiting for love, Asha Bhosle communicates the haunting desolation of Geeta Dutt’s Koi Door Se Awaaz De Chale Aao.
In an album of uniform exquisiteness, this number radiates the glow of a candle on a sultry summer night.
Bolo Kya Tum Bas Itna Sa
In Amol Palekar’s Daayraa, the searing film about a transvestite played by the late Nirmal Pandey and a sex worker played by Sonali Kulkarni, Asha Bhosle gave an enduring vocal performance for Gulzar’s sensuous lyrics tuned by Anand-Milind.
The composition is incredibly sensuous and pain-lashed.
The incredible Ms Bhosle had another marvelous solo Palkon Pe Chalte Chalte in Daayraa.
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