Soulful Combination Of Asha Bhonsle And Khayyam

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When the black and white era of the 50s in Hindi cinema was evolving in terms of music and lyrics, she was just a novice trying to prove herself as a singer while he almost became a known name with Footpath (1953) giving songs like Shaam-e-gham ki qasam rendered by the velvet voice Talat Mahmood. When the music scenario of the 60s was shining bright in its golden aura, she was an established singer singing a mixed bag of scintillating as well as poignant numbers while he maintained his slow pace with likes Tum apna ranjh-o-gham from Shagoon (1964). 70s saw the full fledged entry of western music where her numbers were topping the charts and he was still happy giving music to the poetry like Kabhi Kabhi. Then came the 80s, when Hindi films were all about confused music. But music of Umrao Jaan (1981) made all the difference. People started to see poetry and music together in that era.

And for someone whose music was always inspired by poetry, shayaris and literature, Khayyam was the right choice for the film. Umrao Jaan was all about poetry, ghazal and semi classical based songs. It came as a surprise to music lovers when Asha Bhonsle was Khayyam’s choice for the same instead of Lata Mangeshkar. But Khayyam was confident about Asha’s voice suiting the husky voice of Rekha who was portraying Umrao Jaan on screen. It was who Khayyam suggested Asha to sing all those in a scale lower than her usual which she followed and the results were mind blowing. Umrao Jaan not only won accolades in form of awards but the songs became immortal and are on top of the list for this particular combination of Asha-Khayyam. But is Asha-Khayyam combination all about Umrao Jaan which came in the 80s? No, we can hardly say that when this combination has worked together right from the 50s and Umrao Jaan becoming the zenith of their songs together. Asha Bhonsle’s voice was of course nurtured by the other music directors like OPN, S D Burman, Ravi, R D Burman but it was Khayyam who gave her to sing the first club song or as we call it a cabaret. Though theirs can’t be called as a winning combination all through they have in all 25 odd movies together and of course the non film album Asha Aur Khayyam which has 8 beautiful renditions. Music lovers can very well term this combination as the soulful one.

A quick glance at some songs from the movies with this soulful combination except Umrao Jaan, highlighting their versatility and work chemistry –

1. Footpath (1953) – Though the movie had some melodious numbers like So jaa mere pyaare, Kaisa jaadu daala re balam and Piya aaja re dil mera pukare rendered by her, this is supposedly the first cabaret number rendered by Asha Bhonsle, composed by Khayyam.

2. Dhobi Doctor (1954) – The film starring Kishore Kumar and Usha Kiran had in total 7 songs, out which 5 were rendered by Asha Bhonsle.

3. Tatar Ka Chor (1955) – A pathos driven song from a movie which has 6 songs and 4 out of it rendered by Asha again.

4. Phir Subah Hogi (1958) – The movie which brought Khayyam in league with all the ace music directors. Again here all the female songs except one are rendered by Asha Bhonsle.

5. Shola Aur Shabnam (1961) – The album which had beautiful numbers like Jeet hi lenge baazi hum and Jaane kya dhoondti rehti, highlighted the combination of Kaifi and Khayyam. And Asha Bhonsle had a frivolous number to her credit.

6. Mohabbat Isko Kehte Hain (1965) – The winning combination of Nanda and Shashi Kapoor having some romantic numbers rendered by Suman Kalyanpur and the mujra number sung by Asha Bhonsle.

7. Noorie (1979) – The soundtrack which boasted all Lata numbers and yet Asha had her share of a mujra song.

8. Dard (1981) – A soundtrack with a combination of Lata and Asha, the songs became quite well known in the 80s and are still popular now.


9. Ahista Ahista (1981) – A beautiful album overall with majority of the songs by Asha Bhonsle.


10. Lorie (1985) – Another beautiful album of slow, melodious numbers having a combination of Lata and Asha numbers.

(Photos courtesy – Internet)

Avid music lover and Dev Anand fan

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