Monday, September 10, 2012

Woo Me With An Asha Song

It is very unlikely for me to pay tribute to Asha Bhosle on her birthday, considering that for a long, long time I could not even distinguish between her voice and Lata's; for that matter, I could not tell one female voice from another.

It was always the male voice that mattered -- in my case Kishore Kumar's -- the reason being back then, when I was growing up, the hero alone mattered. You pestered your parents to take you to an Amitabh Bachchan film: it did not matter one bit whether he was paired with Rekha, Hema Malini, Neetu Singh or -- oh no -- Rakhi.

Consequently, the songs sung by the hero mattered. Since you wanted to be him, you wanted to sing his songs -- not the heroine's. If I were a parent back then, I would be extremely worried if my 10-year-old son sat transfixed by Dil cheez kya hai from Umraao Jaan, and find it normal if he danced to Khaike paan Banaraswala or I am a Disco Dancer. And those days, you really had some great 'hero songs', especially those sung on a bike or an open jeep, the most memorable of them being Rotey huey, aatein hain sab (Muqaddar Ka Sikandar). What a song, what a song!

I was so much of a hero-worshipper those days that I felt immensely relieved when Waheeda Rehman, playing Amitabh Bachchan's mother in Trishul, dies right in the beginning of the film. "Now that he is free from the burden of an ailing mother," my young mind told me in the theatre, "he is going to go out and fight all the bad people." Back home, when I told my mother that I was very happy Amitabh's mother died early on in the film so that he could do all the fighting, she wasn't amused at all. "Oh, the death of a mother means nothing to you?" she asked me, rather worried. This was 1979. In 2009 my mother died. Waheeda Rehman, who died ages ago in Trishul, lives on.

But memories of going to nearby movie theatres -- on my father's Lambretta -- remain etched in mind. One such movie was Mr. Natwarlal. I loved the song Pardesia yeh sach hai piya, in which Kishore Kumar makes a dramatic entry into this mindblowing duet with Lata, but thought nothing of  Tauba tauba, an Asha solo. The reason being the latter was purely a heroine song.

Then, one day, you grow up and your sensibilities begin to change. You begin to take a closer look at the opposite sex and start paying attention to their voices and their songs. Today, I get goosebumps listening to the same Tauba tauba. And many many other songs sung by the heroine -- even the vamp.

And if I were to compile a list of such songs -- songs in which I could very well do without Kishore's voice -- eighty percent of them would belong to Asha Bhosle. Lata, the elder sister, might be great, but Asha's voice dances right into your heart and pierces your soul. You instantly want to indulge that voice, even while reserving all the respect for Lata. You respect Lata, but love Asha.

Asha Bhosle makes for a third of the one-rupee coin of Hindu music I always carry in my breast pocket: the remaining two-thirds being shared equally by Kishore Kumar and R.D. Burman. I may listen to -- and love -- the music of others too, but this coin is indispensable. Without this solitary coin, I would be the poorest man on earth.

Presenting five Asha songs that make a great difference to my world and make it worth living:

1. Raat banoon main; which happens to the most favourite of my Hindi songs -- and it does not even feature Kishore Kumar;
2. Aawaz di hai; a song that continues to haunt me -- no Kishore here either;
3. Jaane jaan; need I say anything about this song?;
4. Bechara dil kya kare: vintage Asha!
5. Chal saheli jhoom ke. You may not have heard this song before, but I think you will like it.

Postscript: Hindi cinema is replete with examples of the woman wooing/seducing the man with a song. At the age of 41, I don't expect to be dispensed with such kindness, but if at all any of you still thinks I am worthy of being wooed, that too with a song, please sing an Asha song.


Pradip said...

i only have one comment to make. how come no song from ijazat made the cut?

Nivedita said...

Enjoyed that nostalgic post. Here is my favorite Asha song from Amar, 1954: ek baat kahoon mere piya at

Sepiamniac said...

I have a couple more of her bests

1)Khaali haath shaam- Ijaazat (mera kucch samaan became more popular, but this one is another classic)
2) Yahi woh jagah hai- yeh raat phir na aayegi(an OPN classic as well; he always brought the best out of Asha)

I am not eve mentioning Umrao Jaan (it goes without saying, I guess) As it tapped her classical potential

Asha was a different league- versatile and that silky voice always youthful.

Praveen said...

I am sure you have heard this, BG.

Film: Sadma
Music: Ilayaraja
Singers: Asha Bhonsle

Anonymous said... true….amitabh ….hero worship and all.
Asha Bhosle: since the time my heart learned to skipped a beat , for a special someone, the song that ticked my heart’ when played on vivdh bharti.. …invariably, turned out to be asha’s.....pardeshiya…..yeh ladka hai alla…o mere shona….do lafzon ki…..janejaan ....koi sheri babu…yeh mera dil pyar ka diwana…….and always ,she at her playful best,…hmmmmmm…
bhanvara bada naadaan haay/bagiyan ka mehamaan haay
phir bhi jaane na, jaane na, jaane na/kaliyan ki musakaan haay

Scorpio said...

Awesome recall...raat banu mai aur chand bano tum :-)

Anubhuti said...
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Anubhuti said...
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