Known for her voice range and often credited for her versatility, her work includes film music, pop, ghazals, bhajans, traditional Indian Classical music, folk songs, qawwalis, Rabindra Sangeets and Nazrul Geetis. She has sung songs in as many as 14 Indian languages & a few foreign languages too. The ageless singer started her Hindi film career in 1948 and unlike many of her peers who’ve hung up their boots, she continues to work and travels the world giving concerts. She’s a challenge to the younger generation not only in the voice department but also various other fields. The best example of this being a fashion show at Lakme fashion week’ 2013. She walked the ramp for the ace designer Manish Malhotra.
Born on 8 September 1933, Asha, like her sister, the legendary Lata Mangeshkar, was trained by her father, Dinanath Mangeshkar, in classical music, and it was only a matter of time before she too turned to playback singing. She made her debut with the film Chunaria (1948), but it took her a long time to make it to the top. Between 1948 and 1957. And unfortunately having made an ill-advised marriage that alienated her from her family, she had no choice but to take up all available assignments to provide for her children. Asha Bhonsle was relegated to Hindi film music’s wastelands for almost a decade after she started her career. The music directors of the time were so enamoured of the voice of her elder sister, Lata Mangeshkar, that opportunities with big name composers in big name films were few and far between. The point of inflection in her career came in 1957 with OP Nayyar’s Naya Daur and Tumsa Nahin Dekha and SD Burman’s Nau Do Gyarah and Paying Guest.
However, in 1981, composer Khayyam revealed another, more lyrical quality to Asha’s voice. Their collaboration in the film Umrao Jaan (1981), where the songs were mostly poetry, reveal some of her finest songs. And Ijaazat (1987), another such film, got her the National Award.
Initially Asha’s singing style was reminiscent of Dutt’s, but she soon overcame that and evolved her own distinctive style. Her voice possessed a lilting, versatile quality that could capture any song at any form or scale. By the end of the 1960s, she was second only to her sister. She has sung over 12,000 songs,a figure repeated by several other sources.In 2011, she was officially acknowledged by the Guinness Book of World Records as the most recorded artist in music history.The Government of India honoured her with the Dadasaheb Phalke Award in 2000 and the Padma Vibhushan in 2008.
Gifted with a voice that possesses extraordinary range and versatility, Asha Bhonsle entered the acting department in 2013, debuted in the Marathi film Mai in the title role, at the age of 80. She played the role of a 65-year-old mother who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease and is abandoned by her children.She receives positive reviews for her acting as well from critics.
Age has not withered the voice of the singer. She certainly is a voice for all seasons!