Asha Bhosle – Sudhir Phadke Songs on Lady Love and Her Perspectives

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Asha Bhosle – who does not know this titan who reigned over film music for several decades? 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 compeers are a part of the history, Asha Bhosle still continues to be history in making! Officially acknowledged by the Guinness Book of World Records as the most recorded artist in 2011, this ever-young gorgeous diva of playback singing, with her astounding vocal acrobatics and fluidity of throat, remains the most versatile singer in film music.

Her journey to this position was not a cakewalk, it was rather an uphill battle. She entered the film industry in the late ‘40s, when the dynamics of film music were undergoing a seismic shift. Some female singers like Lata Mangeshkar, Geeta Dutt and Shamshad Begum had just started dominating the playback scene. Asha Bhosle was struggling to pave her way through these challenges, particularly the fierce competition by her own formidable sister. She kept on groping for her own path until O.P. Nayyar confided in her and helped her explore her capabilities and bring them to the fore in the early ‘50s. She then predominantly featured in O.P. Nayyar’s music almost for 2 decades; and thereafter in R.D. Burman’s music starting from the ‘70s. Meanwhile, Ravi also made extensive use of her voice, particularly in the ‘60s. Last but not the least, S.D. Burman also made considerable use of her voice, particularly in the late ‘50s and the early ‘60s.

Besides Hindi film music, she rose to fame in Marathi film music and remained at the top there for a very long time amidst the big names like Lata Mangeshkar and Suman Kalyanpur. What O.P. Nayyar was to her in Hindi film music, Sudhir Phadke was to her in Marathi film music. The role of both of them in shaping up each other’s career has been vital. Though Sudhir Phadke worked with many other singers including Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhosle always remained the predominant singing entity in his Marathi songs after a few initial years of his career.

Sudhir Phadke, fondly known as Babuji in Maharashtra, is a prominent name on the landscape of Marathi film as well as non-film music. Besides being an outstanding composer, he was a steeped singer himself. He had his unique and sweet style of compositions often based on Indian classical music, wherein he used subtle yet impactful musical touches that enabled efficacious expression of the meanings and emotions of the words in a song. Asha Bhosle, through her adept playback skills, consistently made a perfect justice to his expressive compositions. Whenever we listen to their songs, they always seem to be in a perfect harmony with each other, whether as a composer and a singer or as co-singers in a duet. Extremely versatile that she was, Asha Bhosle took Sudhir Phadke’s richly textured compositions several notches up. Their joint repertoire is full of hundreds of euphonious songs painting several nuances of human emotions ranging from love, heartbreak, glee, pathos, and devotion.

Let us take a whirl through a few solos that Asha Bhosle has rendered under the baton of Sudhir Phadke, that depict various shades and stages of love from “her” perspective, through various stages of her life – from an adolescent girl to an able woman carrying the responsibilities of her family on her shoulders with a lot of love and care.

When a girl reaches adolescence, she starts experiencing some unforeseen delicate feelings, as though a plethora of flowers are blooming in her mind; like the ones described in the song “Mi aaj phool jhaale” from Aamhi Jaato Amuchya Gaava (1968) penned by Jagdish Khebudkar –

As she settles with these new feelings, she starts dreaming about a yet unseen hero. She starts indulging in long drawn wool-gatherings of her love which is still far from reality. She keeps on yearning for someone unknown, whom she has seen only in her reverie. When the clouds gather in the sky, her yearning becomes more intense and when it starts raining, her mind also gets drenched in a weird, hitherto unexperienced excitement. She wishes that the hero of her dreams arrives suddenly and takes her for a long ride above those clouds, far away in the sky. The song “Aaj kuni tari yaave”, a composition based on raag Malhaar and brimming with exhilaration from Mumbaicha Jaawai (1970) perfectly portrays this situation. The lyrics are penned by the eminent Marathi lyricist G.D. Madgulkar.

The film Piya Ka Ghar (1972) was the Hindi remake of Mumbaicha Jaawai.

When she grows a little older, her fantasies take a little more definite shape in the form of a handsome lad, whom she has just caught a sight of in some gathering or only in a photo. She falls in love and her stargazing revolves around him now. She readily accepts him as her eternal companion and keeps on talking to her friends about him tirelessly, like the heroine in the song “Hridayi preet jaagate jaanata ajaanata” from Suvaasini (1961) –

The song is again written by G.D. Madgulkar. Seema Dev’s innocent beauty and Asha Bhosle’s softly swaying rendition make this song an audio-visual treat.

She then starts wooing him through romantic gestures, like Uma Bhende in another song from Aamhi Jaato Amuchya Gaava (1968), “Hawaas maj tu, hawaas tu” (again penned by Jagdish Khebudkar) –

In due course, her dream comes true when he also falls in love with her and reciprocates it. While she is on cloud nine, she finds it difficult to believe that her life is filled with happiness at once and a corner of her mind is occupied with a tad of insecurity. The song “Saang, tu maajhaach na?” from Dhaakti Soon (1986) written by another renowned Marathi poet Sudheer Moghe is a perfect expression of her such state of mind.

Their love advances with time and goes through some ups and downs before it reaches its logical end. Their partition due to some unavoidable reasons, albeit temporary, makes her anxious; and she keeps on waiting for him unwearyingly. Seasons come and seasons go, but her perseverant wait continues – “Divasaa maaguni divas chaalale, rutu maaguni rutu; jivalaga, kadhi re yeshil tu?” (The days are passing by and so are the seasons. Oh dear, when will you return?)

In this song, again from Suvaasini (1961), Sudhir Phadke has used five raags, viz. Vasant, Malhaar, Sohni, Yaman and Kedaar, commensurate with the seasons described in each stanza. The classical touches coupled with prolific lyrics by G.D. Madgulkar painting the word picture of each season make it an outstanding composition. Asha Bhosle’s proficient classical rendition without losing out on the emotional essence of the song simply amazes us.

Her wait finally ends, as he returns. It is the time for them to unite for life. What could be more accomplishing for a soft-hearted, loving young girl than this? She enters a new innings of her life with a lot of excitement outlined by a bit of fear and uncertainty. But her dreams of new life outweigh the fear and uncertainty, as she starts painting the pictures of their lifelong companionship that is going to bear flowers and fruits in the time to come. The title song of Ya Sukhaano Ya (1975) (lyricist – G.D. Madgulkar) describes her new dreams precisely –

Their honeymoon period is over, and the routine life brings along occasional differences, quarrels, compromises, and adjustments. But she never gives up and keeps on moving ahead by tactfully handling the situations, like the wife wooing her pouting husband in the song “Ka re duraava, ka re abola?” from Mumbaicha Jaawai (1970).

G.D. Madgulkar and Asha Bhosle have adorned this beautiful composition by Sudhir Phadke (composed in a little different style by him) with romantic words and honeyed rendition respectively.

And then she moves on through all the ups and downs of life with optimism, determination, and confidence that she draws from her love for the family, like the protagonist in the song “Ekaach hya janmi janoo phiruni navi janmen mi”, who is all set to happily take up the challenges that life will be posing –

This song displaying the true feminine spirit and power from Pudhcha Paaul (1986) is written by Sudheer Moghe.

These are just a few examples of the musical wonders that the magical duo – Asha Bhosle and Sudhir Phadke – has created. The glittering treasure-trove of their songs is colossal, rich, and immortal.

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