My favourite ‘special’ Asha Bhosle songs

September 8, 2011

My greetings on her birthday September 8

Asha BhosleKnowing that Asha Bhosle has a huge fan following and there are people more passionate about her than Lata Mangeshkar, I have to carefully choose my words to describe my relationship with her. If I am asked to choose only 20 singers from the 1930s to 60s for company on a remote island, Asha Bhosle probably won’t figure in my list. There are zillion themes swirling in my head for my blog, but doing OP Nayyar-Asha Bhosle is not one of them, much less RD Burman-Asha Bhosle. Yet there is a very special Asha Bhosle, very unique, incredibly sweet and out of this world. Here are my favourite ten ‘special’ Asha Bhosle songs as my greetings to her on her 78th birthday. (Warning: If you are looking for the ‘best’ songs of Asha Bhosle, you need not proceed further – you will not find Aaiye meherbaan or Jaaiye aap kahaan jayenge here).

1. Gore gore haathon mein mendi rachaa ke from Parineeta (1953), lyrics Bharat Vyas, music Arun Kumar Mukherji

I saw Parineeta several decades back, not in a cinema hall, but in a hostel function on a 16mm projector. Such viewings were always a special experience. These movies had multiple intervals as changing the reels was quite a chore. When you came back after one of the intervals, 10 minutes into the film you would be perplexed that the film was not making any sense as it had no connection with what had happened so far. A collective murmur from the audience would wake up the operator that he had put on part 3 instead of part 2. These films had an additional background score – the constant whirring of the machine, which would at times grow to a gurgling sound as if gasping for breath and the reel would snap making the machine come to a sudden death. The operator would delicately cajole it, then give it a good shake, and finally out of exasperation give it a good smack at different places with a variety of tools from his tool kit he always carried like the medicine box of a doctor. But above all this the impact of Sarat Chandra, Bimal Roy, Ashok Kumar and Meena Kumari was more overpowering. I always found it odd that this movie was not reckoned among Bimal Roy’s other great works, I never got to see this again whereas Doordarshan showed his other movies quite frequently. Another memory deeply etched inside me was this wedding song, and this song too met the same fate – I do not remember to have heard it again on radio or TV whereas another song from this movie, Manna Dey’s Chali Radhe rani ankhiyon mein paani, apne Mohan se mukhda mod ke came quite often. I have been able to reconnect with this song only recently through Youtube, and you can imagine the impact it had on me.  Besides being a top wedding song, it evokes deep nostalgia in me, and it comes naturally at the top of my ‘special’ Asha Bhosle songs.

2. Ab ke baras bhej bhaiya ko babul from Bandini (1963), lyrics Shailendra, music SD Burman

Dharmendra made a joke of budhiya jail mein chakki peaceing and peaceing, but when you see the utter despair and hopelessness on the face of this woman prisoner grinding the stone-wheel, it is not funny at all. While the heroine Nutan would get her redemption, this lady, who might have been equally wronged, seems to have no hope. SD Burman gave Lata Mangeshkar, who was making a comeback to his fold after a hiatus of over 5 years, two beautiful solos Mora gora ang lai le and Jogi hab se tu aya mere dware, but you marvel at his judgment and realize Ab ke baras was meant for only Asha Bhosle.

3. Tujhe mili roshni mujhko andhera from Apna Haath Jagannath (1960), lyrics Kaifi Azmi, music SD Burman

This film starring Kishore Kumar and Sayeda Khan must be a perfect B-grade movie. But what a gem SD Burman creates for Asha Bhosle.

4. Koi aya dhadkan kahti hai from Lajwanti (1958), lyrics Majrooh Sultanpuri, music SD Burman

Nargis and Balraj Sahni in a romantic pairing, and the lady on the grand piano which is normally manned by the hero. SDB creates another magic with Asha Bhosle, this one is a little faster and peppy tune.

5. Dhalti jaye chunariya hamari ho Ram from Nau Do Gyarah (1961), lyrics Majrooh Sultanpuri, music SD Burman

This absolutely amazing song is my discovery in the internet era.  When I shared it with some of my knowledgeable friends they all exclaimed how come they had not heard it before.   You can feel Kalpana Kartik enjoying pure bliss in the company of Dev Anand.  If anyone created magic with Asha Bhosle, it was undoubtedly SD Burman.

6. Geet kitne ga chuki hun is dukhi jag ke liye, private song

There was a world of non-film songs co-existing with films in the Golden Era. They had two broad strands – one based on Sanskritised words was popularly described as geet and the other with more Urdu/Persian roots, ghazal. The two together were described by the generic term private song. Most playback singers straddled both the worlds, the private song gave them more room to explore; in many cases they also wrote and composed the songs. Geets were more literary than an ordinary film song. You have this beautiful geet by Asha Bhosle with incredibly beautiful words. Asha Bhosle can be a master of expressing pathos – you feel she was giving vent to her own deepest sadness when she sings I have sung many songs for this happy world/ Let me today cry for a moment for my own sake. And she ends – Tomorrow I will sing something sweet for you/ But today let me cry for a moment for my own sake.

गीत कितने गा चुकी हूं इस सुखी जग के लिये
आज रोने दो मुझे पल एक अपने भी लिये
गीत कितने ……

रो रही थी बीन सुर सुनकर सुखी संसार का
नाचती थीं उंगलियां और कांपता हर तार था 
आज टूटा तार मेरी बीन का आघात से
आज कुम्हलाया कुसुम मेरा अधिक बरसात से
आज धोने दो नयन के अश्रु खोने दो
नयन के अश्रु खोने दो मुझे
कल सुनाऊंगी मधुर कुछ आज रोने दो मुझे
आज रोने दो मुझे पल एक अपने भी लिये
गीत कितने गा चुकी हूं …  

7. Justjoo jiski thi usko to na paya humne from Umrao Jaan (1981), lyrics Shaharyar, music Khayyam

Every Asha Bhosle song of Umrao Jaan is a masterpiece. Khayyam is himself a master of soft, melodious music depicting deep emotions. My special favourite is Justajoo jiski thi. Rekha’s emoting, Asha Bhosle’s voice and Khayyam’s music bring out the deep pathos of Umrao Jaan captured so evocatively in Shaharyar’s poetry.

8. Dhani chunri pahan, from Hare Kanch Ki Chudiyan (1967), lyrics Shailendra, music Shankar Jaikishan

This song came in what I call the rain-shadow years of film music, when the Old was dying, and the New was yet to come. Great stalwarts like Naushad, OP Nayyar and SJ themselves were past their best. Yet SJ in their twilight years came up with this extremely melodious Asha Bhosle song which is one of the best of the period and I count it among Asha Bhosle’s best.  Naina Sahu expressing her joy with the metaphor of clanking of bangles for Biswajit is incredibly beautiful.

9. Bekasi had se jab ghuzar jaye from Kalpana (1960), lyrics Jaan Nisar Akhtar, music OP Nayyar

I consider Asha Bhosle the undisputed Queen of mujra, and what varieties she gave! Ashok Kumar brings out a wad of currency notes, but Padmini obviously sees herself more than merely a courtesan to a rich patron. Jaan Nisar Akhtar’s (father of Javed Akhtar) poetry and Asha Bhosle’s voice bring out the anguish of the courtesan beautifully. OP Nayyar’s music brilliantly exploits the capacity of Raga Desh to express pathos.

10. Saqiya aaj mujhe need nahi ayegi from Sahib Bibi aur Ghulam (1962), lyrics Shakeel Badayuni, music Hemant Kumar

You do not go to a mujra to hear sad songs – the outpourings of a courtesan’s broken heart, but to drown your own sorrows in her sensuous dance and racy songs. You get all this in this wonderful mujra from Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam. In the midst of the impending doom, the decadent zamindars of Bengal could not do without their daily fix of kotha, leaving their pining wives behind. After all, a man cannot remain tied to the pallu of his wife. The wife can occupy herself with getting her jewellery made, unmade and remade. The elder patriarch is a picture of quiet dignity while watching the mujra, while one of his courtiers behind him allows himself a little flippancy breaking into a playful jig, but stops in his tracks when the elder brother glances at him. The simpleton Bhootnath (Guru Dutt), who has been sent on an errand by the chhoti bahu (Meena Kumari) to find out about her ever-absent alcoholic and uncaring husband, is himself drawn to the delightful sight, and gets down to slyly enjoying the mujra from behind the curtain, but is also bashful at being seen. The dance by Minoo Mumtaz (who was the sister of the comedian Mehmood) is a visual treat. Asha Bhosle’s singing breaking the general gloom permeating the movie is beyod compare, and is a perfect foil to Geeta Dutt’s classic poignant solos (Na jao saiyan and Piya aiso jiya mein samaye gayo re). Hemant Kumar proves he could compose a great mujra too. And topping all that, Guru Dutt’s famed command over light and sound and song picturisation, packing so much of the period and layers of meaning, makes this mujra an all-time classic.

{ 120 comments… read them below or add one }

101 AK July 16, 2015 at 6:03 am

Arvinder Sharmaji,
I think it has been discussed earlier in the context of Multiple Version Songs. Roshan used it again in Rahe na rahe hum mahka karenge, Lata Mangeshkar taking it to greater heights.

Ye thandi hawayen and its supposed origin and off-shoots also have been discussed. I don’t think any great song is diminished because of its perceived similarity with another song.

102 ksbhatia July 16, 2015 at 10:54 pm

Arvinder sharma ji ;
Thanks for the version song 0f Mamta …… Rahe na rahe hum . I agree with AK ji’s comment. It is for the listener to to enjoy how Ashaji’s song gets polished by Lataji’s rendering.

103 mumbaikar8 July 17, 2015 at 5:51 pm

As AK has mentioned, this song was discussed in Version Songs but as the arena of SOY has gone so vast it is not possible to locate where. I remember it too, AK and I had discussed this song, AK being consistent about Lata had said that it is Lata who has taken it to greater heights and I had batted for Asha, Asha has sung this beautifully and it is sad that it went unnoticed.
I like Asha’s soft voice more than her full throated one.
This one from Laila has Asha in her soft tone.
Hasratein barbard hai arman hamrare

104 arvindersharma July 17, 2015 at 6:41 pm

You are absolutely right about SoY’s expansion and the number of posts, along with the comments therin have swelled up so much, that it is hard to recall at times, whether a particular song has been discussed and where.
AK Ji deserves to be congratulated, along with his team for this.
Coming to the song you have posted, its another real gem, which I just listened to for the first time, and I confess, was bowled over it once again.
I believe, we are making a new Asha Bhonsle fan club here, right on the spot.
Aren’t there shades of Sajjad Hussain in the interludes ? SSW Ji is most welcome for his comments here.
I’m posting an OPN/Asha duet here and the beauty is, it sounds like a composition of another great.
Kindly listen and comment.
Mai bhi jawan from Baap Re Baap, music OPN

105 SSW July 17, 2015 at 9:47 pm

Mr.Sharma I had not heard either of the songs you and mumbaikar had posted. The first one definitely has shades of Sajjad. The second one seems to be a reworking of an old Konkani/Marathi folk tune that we used to sing as kids “mazha gharavari mazha gharavari, sonyachi… “

106 mumbaikar8 July 19, 2015 at 7:04 am

You are right AK should be congratulated and thanked time and again for the efforts he is putting in to keep this blog so lively.
Thanks for appreciating the song, Allah Rakha the maestro has some very good songs to his credit.
Rightly (as always) described by SSW this Baap re baap song is more in C Ramchandra Style (Maharashtrian) and not OP’s usual Punjabi flavor. The heroine is dancing in Bhagwan dada style too.
If you search in early 50’s you will find Asha singing very good song for B grade movies with unknown MDs
Here is one from Sandesh: bisri hui who baaten kyoon yaa aarhi hai with S. Purshottam never heard his name Arunji may have some idea about him.

107 AK July 19, 2015 at 9:48 am

Arvinder Sharmaji, Mumbaikar8,
I am grateful for your appreciation. Now this blog owes a lot to the readers.

108 ksbhatia July 22, 2015 at 12:21 am

Mumbaiker8, AK, Sharma’ji[s];

Here is one of gem of a rare sad song by Asha’ji …….Chali re chali main to desh paraye….. from Saranga , music by Sardar malik which is a lesson for other MDs to follow . Here the rendering of the song follows the pathos hidden in the beautiful lyrics . The photography very aptly catches the mood .

109 mumbaikar8 August 14, 2015 at 6:37 pm

Arvinder Sharmaji,
One more song in Asha, Lata, Chandi Chowk Mamta category.
I think Asha song from Khazanchi aankhon aankhon me ho gaye mast ishare was enhanced into Naino wali ne haye mera dil listen. Have a listen and correct me if I am wrong.
Nainon waali ne is one my favourite Lata Madan Mohan song, but once again, Asha is good too.

110 arvindersharma August 15, 2015 at 5:48 pm

Another wonderful discovery and a lovely song.
And I find a typical Madanmohan instrumentation in the interlude before the antaras.
Lovely addition to my playlists.
And a Very Happy Independence Day To You And All At SoY.

111 mumbaikar8 August 15, 2015 at 6:10 pm

Thanks and Happy Independence to all.
You did not say any thing about the similarity of two songs. What so you think?

112 arvindersharma August 15, 2015 at 6:18 pm

Sorry I got so carried away by the melodious song that I forgot to mention anything about the similar.
Of course, it is very similar and more melodious to my ears.
And happy findings,

113 ksbhatia August 15, 2015 at 11:10 pm

Mumbaikar8 , Arvinder sharma ji;

Both the songs are almost similar and it is difficult to decide which is better of the twos . Though both the tunes are typical of Madan mohan’s punjabi creation ; the first one has the flavour of O P Nayyar’s touch because of the interludes . If i am not late Happy Independence Day to all of you and SOY family as well. The day , though rainy , was very hectic because of the family visits .

114 Ravindra Kelkar August 16, 2015 at 12:39 am

Shri Arvinder Sharma,
The song you have provided in your comment no 104fcr from Baap Re Baap is composed by C Ramchandra, not by OP. Three songs were composed by C Ramchandra in this film, one more Asha song – Diwana Dil Gaye & one comic solo by Kishore Kumar. Rest of the 6 songs were OP compositions.

115 AK August 16, 2015 at 7:52 am

Ref #109. I am coming to your comment late. What a discovery you have made! Aankhon aankhon mein ho gaye mast ishaaree is a wonderful song. Thanks for introducing it. This one with Nainon waali ne is even a better example than Asha-Lata-Chaandni Chowk-Mamta.

I have earlier mentioned if anyone is compiling the amazing discoveries you have made for SoY. Hope you are doing it.

116 arvind August 16, 2015 at 2:21 pm

sharing ….aaj ye meri zindagi…..:
yeh raaste hain pyaar ke/ravi/rajinder krishan/1963

117 arvindersharma August 16, 2015 at 5:50 pm

Rabindra Kelkar Ji,
Many thanks for the correction.
I was in a quandary myself when I listened to this song, but simply believed it’s OPN, because of the fact that he was a maverick composer, and just to prove a point of Asha’s singing, he could compose a song with a CR feel.

118 mumbaikar8 August 16, 2015 at 9:14 pm

I agree with you this Asha Madan Mohan song has some OPN flavor, I am not much aware of the story line of the movie, perhaps it was Punjab based
Thanks for the praises. Feels good!

119 ksbhatia August 17, 2015 at 12:26 am

Here is heart warming rendering by Asha ji , a Gem of a song …….. Saare jahan se accha hindustan hamara…….relevent to the independence day celebrations .

120 mumbaikar8 November 26, 2015 at 11:43 pm

Arvinder Sharmaji,
I was aware of Saltanat songs but they were not available on YouTube. Someone has just uploaded them, please listen you might add them to your playlist.
Ravinder Kelkar:–wo

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