Asha Bhosle’s breathtaking versatility has spanned a universe of styles, genres and moods. Though most composers of the last millennium favoured her sister Lata Mangeshkar’s voice there were composers like O P Nayyar and Ravi who preferred Ashaji, and believe it or not, there were Lata bhakt composers who somehow gave a classic to Asha Bhosle. The biggest example being Umrao Jaan which went to Ashaji only because the composer Khayyam and director Muzaffar Ali didn’t want Umrao Jaan to sound like an extension that other timeless tale of the poetic tawaif Pakeezah. Here are 5 other relatively unknown AB classics that came her away because…well, Badi Didi was busy elsewhere.
1. Naina hain pyaase mere pyasa hai pran mera main hoon ek barkha ke bin jalta sa din aashiyan hai sunsaan mera(Aavishkar): If these exquisite lines written by the accidental lyricist Kapil Kumar have caught your attention, then go dig out this molten gold of a song. This is Asha Bhosle at better than her best.Composer Kanu Roy never worked with Lataji . His favourite was Geeta Dutt: Aaj ki kali ghata, Kaise koi jeeye, Mujhe jaan na kaho meri jaan, Koi chupke se aake….When Geeta Dutt passed away Kanuda fell back on Asha.And what a magnificent fall! I’d say Asha out-excelled Geeta Dutt in Kanu Roy’s oeuvre with this one song.
2. Jaane kya haal ho sheeshe ka paimaine ka(Maa Kaa Aanchal): The composing maestro Madan Mohan’s favoured voice was Lata Mangeshkar. And they created timeless classics time after time together. But wait! Tucked away in an anonymous corner of the majestic Madan Mohan’s oeuvre was this small-budget film Maa Ka Aanchal which contains one of Ashaji’s career best songs. Jaane kya haal ho is a Mujra with a piercingly soulful composition that is as difficult to compose as it is to sing. Listen to AB hit summits of tonal peaks in this gem of a Mujra.Your life will never be the same again.
3. Mujhko bhi radha banale nandlal(Ankahee): Amol Palekar weird experimental film was redeemed by a magnificent spiritual score by the great underrated Jaidev. Asha Bhosle shared vocal honours with the mighty classical vocalist Bhimsen Joshi. In her two solos Kauno thagwa nagarwa lutal ho and Mujhko bhi radha Ashaji proved she was no walkover. My pick of her terrific twosome is Mujhko bhi radha. Why? No reason . Just whim . Because both of Ashaji’s solos are like the two eyes in a beautiful face.
4. Kabhi kabhi sapna lagta hai(Ratna Deep): It is no secret that Rahul Dev Burman saved all his best songs for Lataji.And Ashaji never forgave her husband for this . I don’t know how this one got away. An absolutely divine duet (with Kishore Kumar) about the anguish of unspoken love, Ashaji’s voice opens up Gulzar’s lyrics, explores the words with a poetic candour, passion and vigour that I am to sorry say, Kishore Kumar just can’t match.
5. Main jaa rahi tthi leke mann main trishna(Bidaai): Laxmikant-Pyarelal hero-worshipped Lataji(like we all do). They gave only the leftovers to Lataji’s sister. This heart-melting composition from L V Prasad’s 1976 blockbuster is an exception. It is about an abandoned mother saying goodbye to the world .When Ashaji sings Sabki bidaai maine kee haye, Mujhko bidaa karne na koi aaye , maa ke liye bacho se hua na itna, try not to cry.