Wishing Asha Tai a very happy birth day - a song for every decade

Well it would almost be impossible to sketch the legendary Asha Bhosle; one of the two living legends surviving from the golden era, the other one of course being Lata Didi; just because of the sheer volume of work she has done over an incredible period of more than 7 decades. What would be even tougher will be to do a top 10 list of Asha Bhosle songs, knowing that she holds the guiness book of world records for most songs sung in the whole fuckin world. Yes she entered the list in 2011 and was quoted - The 78-year-old has reportedly recorded up to 11,000 solos, duets and chorus-backed songs in over 20 Indian languages since 1947." And I can go on and on about how her biggest strength was versatility and the ability and desire to challenge herself even during the golden age when even Lata di used to say no to some songs as they were tacky sometimes.

The most amazing thing about Asha Tai is the fact that her voice simply did not change over the course of last 60 years. She still sounds the same. The melody, the pitch, the throw seems almost incredibly similar in 'abhi na jao chhod kar' and 'ho ja rangeela re'. Its a beautiful gift to have, something that even sur-kokila Lata ji didn't manage to maintain.

Yesterday she turned 81 and still going strong. Here's a salute to the lady who achieved everything, sang the most beautiful songs despite always being outweighed by her own sister and claimed the charts with the Western revolution of the late 60s and 70s. We are taking a look at 1 song (not the best but lets put it as my favorite) per decade

1) Chanda ki Bindiya
Film: Mai (2013)
Music Director: Manoj Tapadia
The divinity of her voice can be simply understood from this song which was released when Asha ji had turned 80 and she still sounds the same melodious teenager who started her career by trying to imitate Shamshad Begum. This song from last year's lost film 'Mai' also featured her in a eponymous role. The movie did not stir anything in the industry but the song did get Asha ji all the praise from everyone who understood the feat she had achieved

2) Radha kaise na jale
Film: Lagaan (2001)
Music Director: A. R, Rahman
The credit for resurrecting Asha ji's voice and brining it to the masses in the 90s goes to AR Rahman to some extent. He worked extensively with her and created some magical songs. They teamed up again in 2001 film Lagaan in Radha kaise na jale. A melodious tune with a folkish lyrics set up by Javed Akhtar, the song epitomised what Asha ji stands for, melody. The film was succesful and went to Oscars as official entry from India.

3) Ho ja Rangeela re
Film: Rangeela (1995)
Music Director: A R Rahman
This was the first time when ARR teamed up with Asha tai and what came out was a musical masterpiece. The combination not only propelled RGV but was a pivotal moment in changing career graph of Urmila Matondkar. Tanha Tanha and ho ja rangeela re took Urmila to the heights of stardom and the voice behind was smiling as ever. Mohammad Rafi has always been called the master of playback and sounding exactly like the actors on screen, but it would be difficult to imagine him singing for Shah Rukh Khan in Baazigar. Asha ji somehow managed to do that in Rangeela. Truly a magical album with amazing songs

4) Dil Cheez kya hai
Film: Umrao Jaan (1981)
Music Director: Khayyam
Probably one of the most iconic and recognizable Asha ji song. Umrao Jaan is a cult classic which brought the flavors of Awadh in its complete essence. It is a cinematic masterpiece but more because of the flawless and authentic work done by Khayyam sahab and Asha ji. each and every song of the film went on to become legendary and it was this film which brought Rekha to the forefront of bollywood. It is almost an impossible choice to decide which song to choose from 80s and it doesnt get any easier to choose between Dil Chej kya hai and In Aankhon ki masti ke. But I am taking this one just based upon one thing - the way Asha ji bends the voice while singing 'aap meri' in mukhda

5) Piya tu ab to aaja
Film: caravan (1971)
Music Director: RDB
Well this song has been talked about, covered, performed to million times throughout the history of bollywood. It is a popcultural symbol in the industry and a certain benchmark for a Cabaret song. But what's even more remarkable is that it kind of perfectly depicts the kind of relationship Pancham and Asha ji had. It was a peak of their collaboration in a way. Startng in Teesri Manzil with Aaja Aaja mai hoon pyaar tera till they last collaborated in Gurudev in 1993, Asha-Pancham was a soulful, made for each other type of combination which lit up the indusry in 70s. The song also put Asha ji at the spearhead of western pop singing and took Helen to new heights. What followed was Asha ji rolling one hit after the another with Pancham till death did them part
Not to mention the quote " It is a highly suggestive song with Asha Bhosle breathing quickly at intervals, giving it an orgasmic sound" and RDB participating as well.

6) Paan Khaye Saiyan Hamaro
Film: Teesri Kasam (1966)
Music Director
1960s was the era when Indian music enjoyed its best phase ever. The pinnacle of the golden age was met with the best poets, the best musicians and the unmatched vocals. To do any kind of listing from 1960s is almost an impossible task. I can't name top 10 Rafi, Lata, Asha or even Manna songs from 60s. Same goes for the toughness of the job to do the same for OP Nayyar, Burman dada, Shankar Jaikishan, Naushad or madan Mohan. So it comes as an incredibly absurd and difficlut task of picking one song from 1960s sung by Asha ji. So due to lack of reasoning and capability, I am sticking to Paan Khaye Saiyaan Hamaro. Yeah not a OP Nayyar song but rather a Shankar Jaikishan song, with whom Asha ji is not even considered to be associated properly like with OP Nayyar with who she churned out classics. This song is a personal favorite in terms of the throw that Asha ji has in this song and the variations in the antara (read Humri dil ki na poochhe bedarda) or maybe Shailendra ji has written a remarkable lyrics once again or maybe just because Waheeda ji looks astonishing here. But frankly there is no substantial reason that can justify why not 'O mere Sona re Sona Re', 'Jhumka Gira Re', 'Raat Akeli hai' or  'Jaiye Aap kahan jayenge' but this one. So I have only one thing to say - listen to all of them and go on the ride

7) Aaiye Meherbaan
Film: Howrah Bridge (1958)
Music Director: O.P. Nayyar
So it had to be nayyar sahab finally, if not 60s then definitely 50s. Howrah Bridge was a brilliant album with all the songs being popular and noteworthy. But as much as Geeta Dutt nailed 'mera naam chin chin choo', Asha ji took 'Aaiye Meherbaan' to a different level. I wouldn't disagree that the seductiveness of madhubala was not a factor in the song. But the sensuosness of the song is as much Asha Ji as Madhubala. Famous Urdu poet Qamar jalalabadi penned the song and Asha ji collaborated with Nayyar succesfully again after Tumsa nahi dekha to bring out this classic. 50s also saw some other legendary Asha ji songs, but this one definitely stands out for me

8) Do chaar idhar do chaar udhar
Film: Raat ki Raani (1949)
Music Director: Hansraj Behl
40s is not the era which we associate with Asha tai. it was the era when Suraiya stepped down and Shamshad Begum, Geeta Dutt and Lata ji took over. Asha ji was no where in the frame. And despite being in the singing industry since 1943 with Marathi films, it was not until 1949 when she finally got her first hindi solo, courtesy Hansraj Behl. The song sounds so similar to a Shamsad begum song because of the very fact that Asha ji always wanted to sing like her and tried to copy her a lot of times. This song was a success and put Asha ji in the mix along with the succesful names that time. And boy do we know what happened next, a career that can only be bettered by Lata ji.

The list is not meant to rate Asha ji songs. Its just a tribute from a fan who was always under the shadows of Lata songs and took a long time to realise that Asha ji deserved more respect and credit than she actually got. A troubled personal life coupled with the biggest collaboration in the Indian music history with Pancham and a voice unmatched in its entirety. Asha Bhosle has become indispensable from Indian music and cinema and will continue to inspire the generations of budding singers.

Some other gems that could not find place in the list but are brilliant
Kahin aag lage lag jawe (Taal)
Mera kuchh Saman (Ijazat)
In Aankhon ki masti ke (Umrao Jaan)
Ye mera dil pyaar ka deewana (Don)
Chura liya hai tumne jo dil ko (yaadon ki baarat)
Dum maaro dum (hare Krishna Hare Ram)
Raat Akeli hai (Jewel Thief)
O mere Sona Re (Teesri Manzil)
Jaaiye aap kahan jayenge (Mere sanam)
Aage bhi jaane na tu (Waqt)
Nigahein milane ko jee chahta hai (Dil hi to hai)
Abhi na jao chhod kar (Hum Dono)
Ye hai Reshmi zulfon ka andhera (Mere Sanam)
Ishaaron Ishaaron me (kashmir ki kali)
Maang ke saath tumhara (naya daur)
sabarmati ke sant (Jagriti)

Hope you liked the list. Let us know if we missed out on something big :)


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