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Asha Bhosle

Birthday
08 Sep 1933 (Age 81)
Biography
Asha Bhosle (Marathi: आशा भोसले) is an Indian singer. She is best known as a Bollywood playback singer, although she has a much wider repertoire. Her career started in 1943 and has spanned over six decades. She has done playback singing for over 1000 Bollywood movies and sold many records. She is the sister of the equally accomplished Lata Mangeshkar.

Bhosle is considered one of the most versatile South Asian singers — her range of songs includes film music, pop, ghazals, bhajans, traditional Indian Classical music, folk songs, qawwalis, Rabindra Sangeets and Nazrul Geetis. She has sung in over 14 languages including Assamese, Hindi, Urdu, Telugu, Marathi, Bengali, Gujarati, Punjabi, Tamil, English, Russian, Czech, Nepali, Malay and Malayalam.

Bhosle is believed to have sung over 12,000 songs. Though her sister, Lata Mangeshkar was featured in the Guinness Book of World Records during 1974-1991, for having sung the most songs in the world, reputed sources have introduced concerns to its veracity, claiming that the Guinness counts were exaggerated and Bhosle had recorded more songs than Mangeshkar. Bhosle herself pointed out that she had made the most recordings by any singer - 12,000.

Asha Bhosle was born in the small hamlet of Goar in Sangli, Maharashtra, into the musical Marathi family of Pandit Deenanath Mangeshkar. Her father was a theater actor and classical singer who had been born in the village of Mangeshi in Goa. When she was nine years old, her father died. The family moved from Pune to Kolhapur and then to Bombay. She and her elder sister Lata Mangeshkar began singing and acting in films to support their family. She sang her first film song Chala Chala Nav Bala for the Marathi movie Majha Bal (1943). The music for the film was composed by Datta Dawjekar. She made her Hindi film debut when she sang the song Saawan aaya for Hansraj Behl's Chunariya (1948)

At the age of 16, she eloped with 31-year old Ganpatrao Bhosle (1916-1966), marrying him against her family's wishes. Ganpatrao was sister Lata's personal secretary. The marriage failed miserably. Her husband and in-laws mistreated her. After a few years of marriage, Bhosle was turned out (around 1960) by a suspicious Ganpatraoand she went to her maternal home with two children and pregnant with her third child, Anand. She continued to sing in films to earn money.

At that time, prominent playback singers like Geeta Dutt, Shamshad Begum and Lata Mangeshkar (her sister) monopolized the singing for the "heroine" roles and the big films, whilst Asha Bhosle used to get the assignments they did not take: singing for the bad girls and vamps, or songs in the second-grade movies. In the 1950s, she sang more songs than any other playback singer in Bollywood, yet most of these were in low budget B or C-grade films. Her earliest songs were composed by A R Qureshi(Alla Rakha Khan), Sajjad Hussain and Ghulam Mohammed, most of which failed to do well. Singing in Dilip Kumar-starrer Sangdil (1952), composed by Sajjad Hussain, she got reasonable recognition. Consequently, film director Bimal Roy gave her a chance to sing in Parineeta (1953). Raj Kapoor signed her to sing the song Nanhe Munne Bachche with Mohammed Rafi in Boot Polish (1954), which gained popularity.

O. P. Nayyar gave Asha Bhosle a big break in C.I.D. (1956). She first achieved success in B. R. Chopra's Naya Daur (1957), composed by him. His collaboration with Bhosle produced many hits. Later, she established herself and received patronage of composers such as Sachin Dev Burman and Ravi. Bhosle and Nayyar had a professional and personal parting of ways in the 1970s.

In 1966, Asha's performance in the duets from music director R D Burman's first successful movie, Teesri Manzil won popular acclaim. Their collaboration produced numerous hits in the 1970s and resulted in a marriage. In 1960s and 1970s, she became the voice of Bollywood's most famous dancer, Helen. It is said that Helen would attend her recording sessions so that she could understand the song better and plan dance steps accordingly. Some of the most popular Asha Bhosle-Helen numbers are Piya Tu Ab To Aaja (Caravan), O Haseena Zulfon Wali (Teesri Manzil), and Yeh Mera Dil (Don).

In Umrao Jaan (1981) and Ijaazat (1987), she sang traditional ghazals and proved her versatility, winning the coveted National Film Award for Best Female Playback Singer.

Her film activities continued into the 1990s. Her performance in the 1995 hit Rangeela was particularly notable. As late as 2005, 72-year-old Asha Bhosle's numbers for the Tamil film Chandramukhi and the pop song Lucky Lips for Salman Khan-starrer Lucky were chartbusters. Some of the other popular Tamil songs sung by Bhosle are Oh! Butterfly, September Maadham and Vennila Vennila.

In October 2004, The Very Best of Asha Bhosle, The Queen of Bollywood, a compilation album of songs recorded by Bhosle for albums and Bollywood films that were released during 1966-2003, was released.

Personal life
Asha's house is situated in Prabhukunj Apt on Peddar Road area of South Mumbai. She has three children and five grandchildren. The eldest of her three children is Hemant Bhosle (named after Hemant Kumar), spent most of his early years as a pilot and quit to have a brief career as a music director. Asha's daughter Varsha, who is younger than Hemant, worked as a columnist for The Sunday Observer and Rediff. The youngest child is Anand Bhosle, who has studied business and film direction. He manages Asha's career.

Her grandson, Chaitanya (Chintu) Bhosle (Hemant's son) also ventured in the world of music, as a member of a successful boy band, "Band of Boys". Her granddaughter, Anneka Bhosle (hemant's daughter) is on her way of becoming a successful Photographer. Her sisters Lata and Usha Mangeshkar are playback singers. The other two siblings, sister Meena Mangeshkar and brother Hridayanath Mangeshkar are music directors.

Asha is an excellent cook and cooking is her favorite hobby. She often gets flooded with requests by Bollywood celebrities for kadai ghosht and biryani and has rarely turned down a request. In fact, her paya curry, Goan fish curry and dal are very popular with the Kapoor family of Bollywood. Once, when asked in a Times of India interview, what if her singing career had not taken off, she said "I would have become a cook. I'd have cooked in four houses and made money."

Asha is a successful restaurateur and runs restaurants in Dubai and Kuwait, called Asha's. Asha's offers traditional north-western Indian cuisine. It has a presence in the Wafi City development in Dubai, as well as two restaurants in Kuwait. Asha Bhosle has a 20% stake in the business. Asha is not involved in day-to-day running of the restaurant which is looked after by the Wafi Group. She takes care of the kitchen and the décor. She personally trained the chefs for almost six months. According to a December 2004 report in the Menu Magazine,Russell Scott, a former head of Harry Ramsden's (the fish and chips chain), secured the UK rights to the Asha's brand and planned to open up to 40 restaurants over the next five years. As part of her chain of restaurants, Asha's, Ashatai has recently opened a new restaurant in Birmingham, UK.

Asha's fashion statement is white sarees with sparkling embroidery, pearls around her neck and diamonds. Harrington of Kronos Quartet said "The first time I met Ashaji she was dressed in the most beautiful sari with diamonds and looked very regal. Then I looked down and saw that she was wearing tennis shoes! I thought I love this woman."

Asha is a good mimicry artist as well. At a concert at World Trade Center in Dubai on April 22, 2004, she mimicked the song Kabhi To Nazar Milaao in the voices of Noor Jehan, Lata Mangeshkar and Ghulam Ali.

Nowadays, apart from singing and her restaurant, Asha is also working on her autobiography.