Asha Bhosle Marriage: The Evergreen Singer With Evergreen Fortitude

When Asha Bhosle started out her singing career, she was considered to be a sideshow singer – singing the songs that remained after avant-garde singers like Lata Mangeshkar and Geeta Bali had their pick. These songs consisted of cabaret numbers (today’s item numbers), songs with subtly raunchy lyrics and the tunes were to be lip-synced by a not-so-heroic female character in the film. Asha happily sang those songs without any inhibitions because she wanted the money, and today with 12,000 songs in her portfolio, she holds the Guinness World Record for the most recorded artist in the history of music.

In spite of the legendary status she enjoys today, Asha had a turbulent matrimonial life with a terribly failed marriage that even strained her relationship with her elder sister Lata Mangeshkar. What made it go all sour? Let’s unfold the events.

Asha Bhosle – Singer And Actress

Asha-Bhosle

Asha Bhosle was born Asha Mangeshkar on 8th September 1933 in the Sangli district of Maharashtra, which was then an independent princely state. She was third eldest among five siblings in her family. When Asha was quite young, her father passed away, which forced the family to move from one city to another, eventually settling in Mumbai. Lata Mangeshkar, the eldest child, became the sole breadwinner of the family by making a career out of playback singing. Asha followed the footsteps of her elder sister and sang her first song at the tender age of 10 in the year 1943 for the Marathi film Majha Bal (1943). She made her Hindi film debut in the year 1948 with the song for the film Chunariya. It was her vocals for the songs of Naya Daur (1957) that brought Asha the limelight, and from then began a steady inflow of singing offers. By 1980, Asha Bhosle was considered second in ranks only after her sister Lata Mangeshkar, and amongst quite a few, she even enjoyed an edge.

Asha Bhonsle reinforced her image as an evergreen singer when in 1995, at the age of 62, she sang songs for the 21-year old Urmila Matondkar for the film Rangeela. It was a turning point in her career since she ushered herself into the era of modern music, unlike many other singers of her generation who remained reclusive. Since then she has sung several modern Hindi songs, and has even remixed her own numbers to appeal to the modern youth, and wider audiences, to great effect.

Did You Know?
Asha Bhosle made her acting debut at the age of 79 with the film Mai.

The Bitter First Marriage

Asha-Bhosle-and-Lata-Mangeshkar

Asha was just 16 years old when she eloped with Ganpatrao Bhosle, who was the personal secretary of Lata Mangeshkar. Little is known about Asha and Ganpatrao’s acquaintanceship but their decision to get espoused secretly did not go down well with the Mangeshkar family, who vehemently opposed it. Her elder sister Lata disowned her, and it was only after Asha had children that her maternal family softened towards her. In spite of that, the marriage was something that was never meant to be, and cracks began appearing by early 1950s. It is said that Asha would face harassment from her husband Ganapatrao on various fronts- from petty quarrels turning into heated feuds to Ganapatrao even suspecting his wife of infedelity. When Asha made her singing debut, it was widely considered that her elder sister’s popularity has become a hindrance to her own singing efforts. This gossip point would often irk Ganapatrao, and he started prohibiting Asha from meeting her sisters and vice versa. After all, for Ganapatrao, Asha was always his source for income, as sad it may sound. Things went haywire by late 1950s and in 1960 Ganapatrao finally showed the door to Asha, who left without taking anything with her three children. That day marked the tipping point in her life, and it is since then that she started taking her singing career very seriously, for the reason that she had to now support herself and her children financially.

Did You Know?
The 1998 Hindi film Saaz is said to be based on the Lata-Asha rivalry

The Man Who Loved Her Voice

Asha-Bhosle-and-R.D.-Burman

In the year 1980, after 20 years of living alone, Asha tied the knot for the second time with the legendary music director Rahul Dev Burman. R.D. Burman was six years younger to Asha, and the two first met when Burman, was still in college. R.D. Burman would often visit the song recordings of his father, the famous music director S.D. Burman, and this is where he happened to see Asha Bhosle for the first time.

“He was a thin, pale boy in white, wearing thick glasses. Since he was short, he looked younger than his age. The boy asked me for an autograph and said he’d heard my Marathi natya sangeet on the radio.”
– Asha Bhosle about her first meeting with R.D. Burman

Needless to say, R.D. Burman was in love with the sensuous yet soulful voice of Asha Bhosle. When Burman started composing music himself, he would often choose Asha for experimental compositions. In fact some of the best songs in Asha’s career have been composed by R.D. Burman, who himself was considered a trendsetter. On the personal front, he married a fan Rita Patel in 1966 only to divorce her in 1971. By late 1970s, Burman and Asha had developed enough rapport to consider having a life together but Asha was ostensibly wary of getting married for the second time. But Burman’s fondness towards her was different; it was something that stemmed out of their common love for music and its various artistic nuances. Asha invariably felt the same, and obliged to Burman’s offer.

“He was after me for years to get married. After much persuasion, he convinced me that he’d fallen in love with my voice, it fascinated him. So finally I said, “Okay”.”
– Asha Bhosle about R.D. Burman’s marriage proposal

Asha and Burman had a private court marriage in the year 1980, and that marked an alliance that would stay firm forever. They had become the first couple of the music industry, and finally Asha Bhosle was living the lost time- finally enjoying every moment of her blissful matrimony.

“Music was the basic foundation of our marriage. Our taste for music was eclectic, and that was our everlasting bond.”
– Asha Bhosle about her marriage with R.D. Burman

It was a euphoric marriage, free from the shackles of squalid miseries that Asha had to withstand in her first experience. Also it was a marriage based on mutual respect, where the two partner lived together till death did them apart. Sadly, that is exactly what happened.

End Of An Era

Asha-Bhosle-wedding

In late 1980s, R.D. Burman suffered a severe heart attack, and had to undergo a complex heart surgery at a specialist facility in London. Asha often attributed his poor heart health to his incessant smoking and alcoholism. Perhaps it was the reason why they had started living separately by late 1980s. in spite of that they would make it a point to spend a day together once in a week. It was one day when Asha visited his home in early January 1994, that she learnt that he is not at home. She later received a call from one of Burman’s servants sharing that his master is not feeling well. Asha along with her son rushed to Burman’s residence and shifted him to a hospital where he suffered a fatal heart attack a few days later. R.D. Burman breathed his last on the 4th of January 1994 in Mumbai, just three months before the release of his comeback film 1942: A Love Story.

Living Life Still Young

Asha-Bhosle-restaurant

Asha was shattered by the loss of someone who was not just her husband but also her best friend in life. Despite the grave sorrow, the resilient woman, which she always was, held herself back together, and moved on with her life like she always did. The year 1995, marked the new beginning in Asha Bhosle’s life, especially on the professional front. In late 1990s, she even entered the hospitality business with her restaurant ‘Asha’s’ which has a presence predominantly in middle-east. Asha tai has been the source of inspiration for many thanks to her unhindered fortitude and affable persona. Now that’s the stuff legends are made up of! We at The Bridal Box wish the evergreen Asha Bhosle the best of health and happiness.

Images Source: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

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