Greeting her Happy Birthday on her 80th Anniversary
Two music directors – OP Nayyar and RD Burman – are credited with the making of Asha Bhosle. Since everyone says this, I am not going to question it, but my own preference is different. RD Burman-Asha Bhosle is essentially a post-69 phenomenon, when music was RD Burman-ised, to which I do not relate much. As for OP Nayyar, my judgement was coloured by the complete absence of Lata Mangeshkar from his music. He was rehabilitated in my esteem because of Rafi for whom he gave some of his greatest songs. If I make a selection of the best songs of Asha Bhosle, it would be dominated by SD Burman. When I wrote a post on my favourite ‘special’ Asha Bhosle songs, four out of nine film songs were by SD Burman – Ab ke baras bhej bhaiya ko babul, Tujhe mili roshni mujhko andhera, Koi aya dhadkan kahti hai and Dhalki jaye chunariya hamari ho Ram. I find that there are still a large number of great Asha Bholse songs by SD Burman deserving a separate post.
Asha Bhosle reaches an important milestone today as she turns 80. Until the terrible tragedy in her life when she lost her daughter last October, she was very active on TV music reality shows. I am an inveterate fan of Lala Mangeshkar’s music, but I always looked for Asha Bhosle’s shows on TV. She is more natural and spontaneous than her celebrated elder sister. Her zest for life and enthusiasm was unbelievable; though her singing assignments dwindled, her voice retained its timbre and she would sportingly break into Ayi re ayi re rangeela re (Rangeela) or Zara sa jhoom lun to (Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge), giving the younger singers a huge complex.
She remained in the shadows of Lata Mangeshkar for long. SD Burman’s hiatus with Lata for about five years (1958-62) gave a Godsend opportunity to Asha Bhosle, when she became his lead singer. This period saw some incredibly sweet songs which represent to my mind her best and also among the best songs of SD Burman. After covering SD Burman’s songs with Geeta Dutt, Rafi and Mukesh, I am delighted to present my favourite Asha Bhosle songs by SD Burman as my greetings on her 80th birthday.
1. Chhayi kari badariya bairaniya ho Ram from Jeevan Jyoti (1953), lyrics Sahir Ludhiyanvi
I find that SD Burman’s association with Asha Bhosle started as early as 1952 in the film Lal Kunwar. But Chhayi kari badariya from Jeevan Jyoti a year later is an incredibly sweet song. It is originally sung by Lata Mangeshkar in the film, but this version was mentioned by Mr Venkataraman in his comments on the Best songs of 1953. We do not know the background of the ‘cover version’ – whether it was recorded for the film but not used. But it is so good that probably nothing much would have been lost had this version been used instead of Lata’s, but obviously this was unthinkable at the time.
2. Phool gendwa na maro dar jaungi from Funtoosh (1956), lyrics Sahir Ludhyanvi
SD Burman takes the sthayee of this traditional Bhairvi thumri and gives it a different twist for Asha Bhsole. Much later Roshan would create an outstanding composition for this thumri in the voice of Manna Dey in Dooj Ka Chand (1964).
3. Dil laga ke kadar gayi pyari from Kala Pani (1958), lyrics Majrooh Sultanpuri
Now the period of great SD Burman-Asha Bhosle collaboration starts with a vengeance. If Lata Mangeshkar is not there, so what? Asha Bhosle is now the lead singer and what gems he gives. One of the greatest mujra songs with beautiful picturisation. The client Dev Anand is in his elements, interspersing the courtesan’s song with with bols of tabla (A trivia: Did you know that the bols are in the voice of SD Burman himself?)
4. Nazar lagi raja tore bangle par from Kala Pani (1958)
SD Burman creates another iconic mujra song in the film, which I just can’t leave out.
5. Chanda re chanda re chhupe rahna from Lajwanti (1958), lyrics Majrooh Sultanpuri
Lajwanti had another outstanding Asha Bhosle song Koi aya dhadkan kahti hai. Just shows that while Lata Mangeshkar’s exit cracked C Ramchandra, it virtually had no effect on SD Burman. Here this combination gives an extremely melodious lori.
6. Kali ghata chhaye mora jiya tadpaye from Sujata (1959), lyirics Majrooh Sultanpuri
SD Burman had the unique capacity to create songs in different voices in the same film, each of which would become iconic. What do you say to the phenomena – his own Sun mere bandhu re, Talat Mahmood’s Jalte hain jiske liye, Geeta Dutt’s Nanhi kali sone chali, discussed earlier, and then an Asha Bholse song worthy to be included in this list.
7. Dekhane mein bhola hai dil ka salona Bambai Ka Babu (1960), lyrics Majrooh Sultanpuri
Giggling girlie group teasing a city bred dandy was never better.
8. Sach hue sapne tere jhoom le O man mere from Kala Bazaar (1960), lyrics Shailendra
I think Subodh used the word ‘jhoomna’ earlier to describe some songs. You decide whether it is Asha Bhosle’s singing or SD Burman’s music which makes your heart sway.
9. O panchhi pyare sanjh sakaare from Bandini (1963), lyrics Shailendra
Creating one iconic song can be an achievement for a life time. But in Bandini you had SD Burman’s own O re majhi mere sajan hain us paar, Mukesh’s O janewale ho sake to laut ke aana, Lata Mangehskar’s Jogi jabse tu aya mere dware, Manna Dey’s Mat ro mata laal tere bahutere, Asha Bhosle’s Ab ke baras bhej bhiya ko babul. When Canasya described SD Burman as the greatest music director of the Golden Era, it was not without reason. Lata Mangeshkar had returned to his fold, but SD Burman had room for a second great song by Asha Bhosle, (giving a message as to who needed whom?). While Ab ke baras bhej is by the solitary female prisoner on the grinding wheel, singing this heart-rending song of hopelessness, O pancchi pyare is by a group of female prisoners, engaged in a variety of womanly chores – grinding, pounding, sowing, washing – to relieve the tedium. This one is peppy on the surface, but melancholic all the same. Presenting two contrasting songs by female prisoners is a directorial feat of Bimal Roy, matched by SD Burman-Asha Bhosle.
10. Tum jiyo hazaron saal saal ke din ho pachas hazar from Sujata (1959), lyrics
Finally wishing her to live long and spread her zest for life to her listeners and viewers, in her own voice.