Some singer-composer combinations prove so eternal that we tend to ignore other associations of that composer. This is literally true for Madan Mohan, whose association with Lata Mangeshkar is always much talked about. Right from their first film together, the combination clicked and till his death, blessed us with immortal melodies. But his associations with other female singers, though may not be that prominent, are overlooked.
When I went through Asha Bhosle’s songs with Madan Mohan, I thought she should be ranked second among female playback singers after Lata Mangeshkar.
Today, on Asha Bhosle’s 85th birthday I’ve planned a twin post, the first part today will highlight her solos with Madan Mohan.
It’s well known that Lata’s association with Madan Mohan started with his second film ‘Ada’ in 1951. But how many of us know that Asha’s first song for MM was also for the same film! It wasn’t for the main lead of course and so wasn’t much talked about and not popular. It was a duet with S D Batish . At the time, with Lata Mangeshkar in heydays, it can be easily understood that Asha got a chance in a Madan Mohan film for a supporting character. It took a few years for Asha to sing for the main lead in MM’s movies.
In 1952, when Madan Mohan composed for Suraiya’s Film, Khubsoorat (Their only venture together), he offered Asha Bhosle two solos, ‘Kisi Se Naina Lade’ and ‘Bich Bajariya Mori Chunariya’. These songs were again for a supporting character. Those were early days of her career, so her voice sounds slightly unpolished, but the expressions and sweetness of the voice are perfect! We don’t find her songs in some of the prominent films of 1953 like Dhoon, Baghi, etc. But for a film like Chacha Choudhary in the same year (Produced by Kardar Films and directed by Raja Paranjape), she was offered five solos and two duets. Lata Mangeshkar had no songs there. Of course, the film was not a commercial success and the songs remained neglected. In 1954, the film Ilzam gave her opportunity to sing for the main lead, Meena Kumari. The songs, ‘Kehti Hai Yeh Thandi Hawa’ and ‘Duniya Mein Aake Jis Ne’ were picturised on Meena Kumari. In the first song, the style of singing appears similar to Lata Mangeshkar. In 1956, again Meena Kumari received Asha’s playback for the film, Memsahib. In the film Kumkum and Meena Kumari both had Asha’s playback.
There appears no logic to the choice of the singer. One reason could be the budget of the film. Asha Bhosle was chosen for low budget movies.
Asha was the choice for playful, bubbly songs, and also for songs like dance numbers, Mujra songs etc.
In some of the films, like Jailor (1958), Geeta Bali has one song by Lata, while the other songs in Asha’s voice. For other characters as well the choice is again Asha. A good club song (Raggi Pappi Lagi – a song with anokhe bol) and a Punjabi dance number (Meri Hirni Jaisi Chal) also in Asha’s voice. In those days, there generally used to be distinction between the voices for the main lead and supporting characters or dance numbers.
During the period 1957-58, Asha was at the peak of her career, in the sense, she was now ‘The’ lead singer for O P Nayyar, S D Burman and C Ramchandra.
For Madan Mohan too, she sang for a number of films in that period, where she was the main singer, and for a few the films, the only female playback singer. Obviously she got an opportunity to prove herself in all types of songs.
For the movie, Night Club in 1958, she was part of all the songs. She sang for both, Kamini Kaushal and Nishi. Madan Mohan composed, as the movie demanded, all western styled songs (with much influence of O P Nayyar in my opinion). It’s a delight to hear his songs from a different genre. In the same year, Khota Paisa, featuring Shyama and Johnny Walker was released and again, she was the main female playback, with four solos and a duet. In Aakhri Dao (1958), Lata only had a duet (which wasn’t I think a part of the movie), whereas Asha had solos for Nutan and Meenu Mumtaz.
The same is the case with Khazanchi (1958), with no Lata songs, and five solos with a duet by Asha Bhosle.
Not to forget, Adalat! Lata’s soulful solos completely overshadowed Asha’s contribution. Actually Asha had two duets with Rafi, one of it for the main lead. And one duet each with Lata and Geeta Dutt. As it’s a tradition to consider solos superior to duets (I hate it and always find it puzzling), her contribution is rarely thought of!
After this she sang at least a song for majority of the films by MM. In some films, she sang solos for the main lead and dance numbers too.
In 1960s, during the years 1963-66, there was a conflict between Lata and Rafi on royalty issues. Many composers opted for Asha for duets. Madan Mohan also had duets of Asha-Rafi. For a few films like, Naya Kanoon and Neela Akash (both in 1965), Neend Hamari Khwab Tumhare (1966) Asha Bhosle was the sole female singer.
For a low budget film like Bombay Race Course (1965), she got to perform some brilliant songs, and though not much popular, the songs are very melodious and sung with a lot of expressions and emotions. But for majority of the 60s films, her contribution was a song or two! The songs were duets or trios, generally dance numbers, I’m dealing with those songs in next post.
The same thing continued in 70s, with less number of Asha’s songs in a movie. The magic of MM’s music also lessened, only a few films out shined!
Now, let me present my favorite solos by Asha Bhosle, composed by Madan Mohan. Here we go in no particular order……..
1. Saba Se Yeh Keh Do – Bank Manager (1956) / Lyrics – Jalal Malihabadi
Meenu Mumtaz reciting in a mushaira. A soft romantic melody, sung with equally soft and silken voice. Asha’s expressions are so nice that today the movie is remembered just for the song. The subtle orchestration helps to concentrate on the meaning of lyrics. Excellent ghazal by lesser known poet, Jalal Malihabadi.
But it seems unlikely for anyone to sing those beautiful lines for Shekhar. The main lead, Shekhar himself was the producer of this movie, under the banner, Movie Stars. None of the films, produced by him, did well at the box office.
2. Aayi Diwali Aayi Kaise Ujale – (with chorus) Khazanchi (1958) / Lyrics – Rajendra Krishna
A thoroughly enjoyable Diwali song. Asha creates a perfect Indian atmosphere with her sweet voice. I couldn’t exactly guess, if it’s a stage performance or a real one. Not that it’s matters! But the former situation appears more likely, if we watch the full song. I am fond of this song right from the day I heard it.
3. Jhumka Gira Re – Mera Saaya (1966) / Lyrics – Raja Mehdi Ali Khan
Sadhna in double role, the bad girl gets Asha’s playback. Asha brings all the elements necessary for such song, without sounding offensive. The folk and nautanki both flavours are catched by Asha superiorly.
For me, Asha Bhosle outshines all other songs from the movie.
Though I’m fond of Lata’s songs as well.
4. Na Dar Sanam, Laga Bhi Le – Aakhri Dao (1958) / Lyrics – Majrooh
Shekhar and Nutan fall in love with the misconception that the other one is rich. When he finds no other way to help Nutan’s father pay the loan, he gambles and earns money. But Jeevan forces him to accept a challenge, the last one! So the name आख़री दाँव. If he wins, money won’t ever be a problem for him. He unwillingly plays, but won’t be appropriate to reveal who wins!
Asha was the main singer for the movie. She sang all the female solos, picturised on Nutan and Meenu Mumtaz both. The latter dances and willingly helps the Shekhar-Jeevan duo, evident from the lyrics as well. A well composed club song, sung without a flaw.
For the video click here.
5. Mere Piya Chhede Jiya – Chacha Chaudhary (1953) / Lyrics – Rajendra Krishna
The song talks about the good days that the couple will enjoy in future. All their worries have come to an end and they want a fresh start. Asha Bhosle sings the song with a calm and soothing voice. It soothes mind and ears too! On a relaxing evening with peace and quiet, experience this song. Just bliss!
This is the most popular song from the movie. She sang for the main lead. This is a soft romantic lyrics woven into a slow paced melody with minimal orchestration.
6. Jogiya Jogiya Kahan Jane Laga – Khota Paisa (1958) / Lyrics – Rajendra Krishna
A dance number by gorgeous Shyama. Johnny Walker is pretending discipline, and Shyama is trying to seduce him by her charming dancing. A semi classical song, sung wonderfully by Asha Bhosle. She is at home for such songs as well.
Shyama in one of her interviews said, she herself choreographed the song and she had a flare for dancing. Her expressions are superb!
7. Shokh Nazar Ki Bijliyan – Woh Kaun Thi (1964) / Lyrics – Raja Mehdi Ali Khan
A song for a vampish character. Picturised on Parveen Choudhary and Manoj Kumar, at the backdrop of ice skating, it’s better to listen than watch. Her eyes don’t express anything but lust. Of course, it was Asha’s forte to sing such songs, and she excels.
8. Ashkon Se Teri Hum Ne – Dekh Kabira Roya (1957) / Lyrics – Rajendra Krishna
A ghazal like composition, sung in a similar fashion. Asha sang all sorts of songs for MM and did an excellent job in all!
A part of the song-medley from the movie, that had three songs back to back. The song is picturised on Anita Guha, who looks beautiful, a revelation for me.
9. Balam Kabhi Aa – Bombay Race Course (1965) / Lyrics – Rajendra Krishna
This song reminded me of ‘Dil Laga Ke Kadar Gayi’, due to its orchestration. I think the Mujra element, common for both, had the effect! Though video is not available, I kept on remembering Nalini Jaywant as well.
It was B grade film, with Ajit and Nalini Jaywant. Asha was the main singer with some melodious songs to offer. This is a perfect Mujra, with Sarangi, Harmonium, and Tabla with Sitar.
10. Banda Parwar, Raat Ke Andhere Mein – Puja Ke Phool (1964) / Lyrics – Rajendra Krishna
Puja Ke Phool was a melodrama, a typical south Indian one! Raj (Dharmendra) rents a room in Shanti’s (Mala Sinha) house, her father himself helping him to utter a white lie about his marriage and pregnant wife. When Shanti’s mother expresses her wish to visit Raj’s wife and newborn baby, he is in trouble. He plans to elope at night. Shanti is well aware of the reality and also Raj’s budding love at her. She mischievously sings this song, to tease him.
Asha Bhosle is always best at it. She completely captures the right mood and brings a smile on our face. A fully enjoyable song! It was very clever of Madan Mohan to chose her for the song, though his choice for a soulful ghazal (Meri Aankhon Se Koi Neend) was Lata Mangeshkar.
11. Bheegi Hui Is Raat Ka Aanchal – Neend Hamari Khwab Tumhare (1966) / Lyrics – Rajendra Krishna
Asha’s voice is soft but appealing and sensuous, as she describes the romantic night. She has many such songs to her credit, but this song is a party song. Though sensuous, she successfully manages to it keep away from lust.
Asha Bhosle sings for Nanda, who’s a England returned girl. The high society atmosphere reflects in the dance and the orchestration. Nanda is trying to cheer up Shashi Kapoor, who appears lost and distressed. She has noticed it, but has no clue to the reason. He is worried about his real family background, which has been faked as Khandani Nawab.
12. Maa Ka Aanchal Ladle – Maa Ka Aanchal (1970) / Lyrics – Kaifi Azmi
Asha has songs of every genre with Madan Mohan. This is most likely a lullaby song, its video is not available. After singing ghazals, qawwalis, romantic songs, dance numbers, Mujra, here she is with a completely different flavour. She expresses the motherly love for her baby so masterly, her versatility is quite evident. In the movie, she sang other types of songs as well.
13. Thoda Sa Aitbaar Kijiye – Chowkidar (1974) / Lyrics – Rajendra Krishna
A Mujra again, may not be famous, but worth listening to. Asha as usual at her best. The expressions while singing the words ‘Aitbaar’ and ‘Intezar’ are fabulous. Enjoy it.
14. Mere Ishq Mein Lakhon Latke – Mausam (1975) / Lyrics – Gulzar
Asha sings for the courtesan played by Sharmila Tagore. Her only song in the movie, among other popular songs by stalwarts. But it does stand out. Kajri (Sharmila Tagore) sings the song to seduce her customer, Dr Gill (Sanjeev Kumar). She dances and sings for him. But he isn’t interested, as he imagines a daughter in her. She has found him very different from her routine customers. He is sympathetic and caring (which she initially dislikes and gets irritated with). She is not aware that he is the same man, for whom her mother waited all her life, became insane and died one day. But he is all torn from within by guilt. He finds himself responsible for Kajri’s downfall. It was just a casual affair for him, but Chanda (Kajri’s mother) was serious about it.
15. Phir Wohi Sham – Tere Bagair (2009) / Lyrics -Rajendra Krishna
Some of his songs were just recorded, but due to some reasons, were unreleased. Such songs were put together in an album, in 2009, by the name ‘Tere Bagair’. It had four songs by Asha Bhosle. All of the Asha’s songs were written by Rajendra Krishna.
The song has fast and slow paced portions, may be depicting the pretended and true emotions of the character singing it respectively. I like it very much.
I wish Asha Tai A very Happy 85th Birthday!
Would you add your favourite song to the list?
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