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Asha Bhosle and the Seven Wonders

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Before I start with this article , I’ll quickly go through my previous one (part 1 of this) which was –Asha Bhosle and the Five Elements. This is for those who have sort of forgotten or haven’t read the article. As the name suggests I had drawn analogies of 5 solo music directors, who balanced the career of Asha Bhosle, with the 5 basic elements which balance the universe.
SDB – Earth, OPN – Fire, Khayyam – Water, Ravi – Air and RDB – Space/Sky.
From the feedback and tips which I got from this article, I came out with a sequel to it – Asha Bhosle and the Seven Wonders.

Asha Bhosle. The diva needs no introduction. Her work, her voice speaks volumes about her. Known for her voice range and often credited for her versatility, her work includes film music, pop, ghazals, bhajans, traditional Indian classical, folk songs, qawwalis, regional numbers, Rabindra sangeet, Nazrul geetis…etc etc etc. She’s still a challenge for the younger generation of singers. She has breathed life into hundreds of songs. A voice for all seasons and reasons. However, before her voice became a sensation, Asha Bhosle had to struggle through her professional (and her personal) life. A struggle which was never visible on her face (she has always smiled through it) and a struggle where she became a winner through her voice.
Her songs, be it a golden era RD number or be it a millennial ARR number, make even the youngest of the generations dance to their tunes. While most of her competitors are a part of history, Asha Bhosle still continues to be history in making!

In the Marathi book by Meena Mangeshkar, Mothi Tichi Saavali there’s an incident mentioned which I would like to share here. It was the time when Marathi theatre was beginning to witness the Golden era. Master Dinanath Mangeshkar was at the peak of his career. There were about 200 people in his theatre company including artists, technicians and helpers. The atmosphere every day would be like some wedding ceremony with so many people for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Litres of milk would be boiled in huge containers with a thick layer of cream forming on it. While other people were busy with their respected chores, a small girl would sneak into the kitchen and gobble that entire cream all by herself. After some time she would feel guilty about stealing and go to Master Dinanath himself and apologise for her actions with a few drops of milk still on her lips. Dinanath Mangeshkar would laugh away the matter but also appreciate her honesty. This little girl was Asha Bhosle. Naughty but sincere, mischievous but honest. That very nature of hers is reflected in her voice and the way she conducts herself.
Officially acknowledged by the Guinness Book of World Records as the most recorded artist in 2011, she is the most versatile singer in HFM with astounding vocal acrobatics and fluidity of throat.
Her journey was rather an uphill battle. She entered the film industry in the late ‘40s, when the dynamics of HFM were undergoing a seismic shift. Some female singers like Geeta Dutt and Shamshad Begum were already dominating the playback scene. Asha Bhosle was struggling to pave her way through these challenges. Particularly the fierce competition by her own formidable sister. The article is not about the competition between the sisters, nor does it suggest one greater than the other. It is just about highlighting a particular part of Asha’s career.
There have been music directors who tailor made songs just for the elder sister. Even so, there have been examples where Asha Bhosle gets to put forth her talent through these very music directors and that’s exactly my topic for today.
Asha Bhosle and the 7 wonders – as the name suggests, I’ve again drawn analogies with the 7 man-made wonders. Here again, I’ve chosen 7 solo music directors whose repertoire is filled with Lata Mangeshkar songs and have a scattered graph of Asha numbers. We will see 2 of her songs with each of these music directors. With Asha singing at the helm, we’ll also get to see many moods of a woman and her emotions, mind you not the mood swings.

Let me take you on a tour of these 7 musical wonders from Hindi film music with Asha Bhosle in the pilot’s seat – “Yaatriyon se nivedan hai ki wo apni kursi ki peti baandh le. Hamara viman ab udaan bharne ke liye tayaar hai.”

1. Asha and Madan Mohan – The Magnificent Taj – The journey begins at home. Leaving aside all the controversies surrounding the Taj Mahal, let us just concentrate on its beauty. It sure is an architectural wonder. The intricacies, the inlay designs, the pure white, smooth marble – all is just breathtaking. Similar are the songs of Madan Mohan more so with Asha. When we think about this combination, the first song which might pop up in our minds is Jhumka gira re…but the combination is much more than that! Here are the 2 examples to go with.

Sabaa se ye keh do – a music lover will surely fall in love with this song and of course Asha’s voice which smoothly glides on the flower carpet! Exquisite and intricate.

Shokh nazar ki bijliyaan – Asha strikes like lightning. Her Ah ha ha ha lifts you up on the wings of melody. She’s seductive, sensual and innocent at the same time. A deadly combination.

2. Asha and Jaidev – The Fortified Wall – Our next destination China has been on the wrong side of the news for the last few years but we do have one of the wonders there. The great wall wasn’t built in one day. It was Brick by brick, year after year, dynasty after dynasty. Our next combination is something like that. When one talks about Jaidev, we might have Raat bhi hai kuch bheegi bheegi or ye dil aur unki nigahon ke saaye going on in our minds but then there’s also Hum Dono. Be it Abhi na jao chhod kar or Jahan mein aisa kaun hai….Asha simply sizzles. However, apart from this, Jaidev and Asha combination is again brick by brick but a fortified wall. It was Asha’s voice which brought forth the dilemma of Mahadevi Verma’s Kaise unko paun aali or Jaishankar Prasad’s turbulence of Tumul kolahal kalah. Here are the 2 examples where we see 2 desert songs. One about the longing and the other about the anticipation brought out beautifully.

Her voice expresses the longing of a wife so beautifully. Requesting, almost pleading the breeze to pass on her message to her beloved.

The strength in her voice when she sings – Hayyy, Jab se lagan lagayi re. Her voice laughs, teases and then shies away in a fraction of a second.

3. Asha and N.Dutta – The Resplendent Petra – We move over to the kingdom of Jordan now – Petra, the ancient city. The carved rose red sandstone resplendent temples and facades. It was much unknown to the world before 1989. It was in this year that it got featured in the blockbuster film – Indiana Jones and the Last Crusader, much like our next combination – N. Dutta and Asha. No one really cared much about the combination till recently. N. Dutta’s career, though short lived, was dominated by Rafi or Mahendra Kapoor numbers. He’s mostly known for the Lata number from Sadhna – Aurat ne janam diya or the duet from Black Cat – Main tumhi se poochhti hoon. Coming up are the 2 numbers by Asha which we really can’t miss if we’re talking about N.Dutta’s career.

The innocence in her voice when she sings – nanha sa dil mera machal machal jaaye! You can actually visualize someone like Nanda singing it.

Stirring up the deepest emotions of love which are embedded inside the core corner of your heart. The poignant yearning and longing and Asha mesmerises.

4. Asha and Roshan – The Spectacular Colosseum – Across the continent now, to Rome. Colosseum – the focal point of Roman civic life. An amphitheatre. It is a free standing structure. Previously used as a church, then as a fortress and was also the scene of thousands of combats between gladiators or even mock Naval engagements. Sounds grand, doesn’t it? Our next combination sounds grand as well. Roshan and Asha. He was a musical extravaganza in himself. An emperor of melodies in a true sense. His association with Lata Mangeshkar and Rafi is well known. Let us witness the grandeur of his songs by Asha.

The veiled expression of love and Asha as though veils yet expresses everything that Nutan wants to convey to Raj Kapoor. Every modulation, every murki, the emphasis on words, its sheer brilliance.

The downright romanticism and the eternal wait in this song. The poetic expressions and the extraordinary singing. Asha and Rafi are completely at ease and rule the song in true sense.

5. Asha and Hemant Kumar – The Impressive Itza – Over the Atlantic to Mexico. Chichen Itza. A pleasing radial symmetry, tidy stepped platforms and crowning temple. There’s also a small temple within the large temple with a jade studded jaguar throne. Not only that, it also has an underground water system. Sounds mystical but rich, isn’t it? Something like our next combination. Uncomplicated, tranquil, soulful and sweet. This is what comes to my mind whenever I hear any Hemant Kumar number. His combination with Asha is mystical and rich. They are quite a bit of contrast but this combination absolutely glows like the jade studded throne of Itza.

Lilting melody and the lyrics to go with. Asha Bhosle diffuses that melody and sweetness to lift one’s spirits.

Soul stirring and haunting. This Asha rendition surely haunts us with pathos. A loveable tear jerker.

6. Asha and Salil Chowdhury – The Skilful Machu Picchu – Over to another continent – Peru. Machu Picchu. A very dramatic landscape. Outstanding cultural and natural values and massive but refined architecture. The giant walls, the terraces and the ramps form an amazing criss-cross structure and seem very natural on the slopes. Just like the criss-cross music of Salil Chowdhury. His songs with Asha are a unique blend of the east and west, not following a predictable format and yet a flawless ensemble of musical expressions.

A gem of a song totally eclipsed by the popular Jaago Mohan pyaare and Zindagi khwab hai. A tender and soothing melody.

Asha does complete justice to this typically complicated Salil melody. The vibrant Asha strikes again. Sassy and brazen, pure and gentle.

7. Asha and Vasant Desai – The Glorious Redeemer – We come to almost the last stop for today. The very festive Rio de janeiro. Christ the redeemer – A colossal statue of Jesus Christ at the summit of Mount Corcovado. It has become an emblem for the entire nation of Brazil. Because of its commanding height it is visible from anywhere in Rio. It is the largest art deco style sculpture in the world. Our next combination is somewhat like this. Less in number but it has got a commanding presence. The glory of these songs will never fade.

Asha dominates all those subtle and savvy notes throughout the song.

Helen, Asha and seduction! Helen and Asha have come a long way and they look/sound even more gorgeous together in this genteel seduction.

The above mentioned wonders are all present day modern wonders. However, initially there was another list of 7 wonders from the ancient world. Out of which only the Pyramids of Giza remain. Hence it has been given an honorary status. We too have one such wonder added to this list.

Asha and C. Ramchandra – Honorary Status – The Pyramids – C. Ramchandra – the manufacturer of honeyed musical concoctions. His combination with Asha stands tall even today, just like the pyramids of Giza. The 2 songs coming up are totally opposite. One a classic rock number and the other, a classic patriotic number. If Ae mere watan ke logon portrays the sacrifices of the soldiers then this asha number portrays the sacrifices of the wives of those soldiers. It was presented after the India – Pakistan war in 1965. It is said that Asha Bhosle was purposely wearing a lot of jewelry on that day, which she donated to the Prime Minister’s fund. The then PM Lal Bahadur Shashtri wasn’t able to attend the function on that day so the team went to his residence the next day to perform again for him. The PM was visibly shaken after hearing the song.

We have come to the end of this journey of 7 wonders of the music world with Asha Bhosle. Hope you all enjoyed it. While I wait for your feedback, if possible, do let me know your takeaway song from this article!

Avid music lover and Dev Anand fan

3 Comments

  1. Pingback: Carnival of Blogs on Golden Era of Hindi Film Music – Volume X – September 2022 Edition – The world is too small? or Is it?

  2. Suresh Ratan

    September 26, 2022 at 1:55 pm

    I am mesmerized by the article and its author too.
    Lovely presentation. I just visited this and have already fallen in love with the site.

  3. Sabarno Moitra

    October 1, 2022 at 4:54 pm

    Again you have written this article superbly, like the previous part. Well done.

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