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September 8, 2003

Arthur J Pais

Asha's milestones continued:

36. The O P Nayyar-Asha Bhosle association comes to an end in Pran Jaye Par Vachan Na Jaye (1974). The solo Chain se humko agar is an award-winning hit though it is deleted from the film.

37. The 1975 hit Khel Khel Mein is yet another R D Burman favourite. It had fun-filled duets like Khullam khulla pyar karenge, but its most outstanding number was the mournful solo Sapna mera.

Vinod Mehra and Rekha in Ghar 38. In Chhoti Si Baat (1975), she teams up yet again with Salil Chowdhury who got her to sing the lovely Baag mein in Chanda Aur Suraj. This time, a new singer to Mumbai called Yesudas joins her in the Janeman janeman number.

39. Kadambari, the 1976 arthouse movie starring Shabana Azmi, has music by sitar maestro Ustad Vilayat Khan. Her number Ambar, one of her finest songs, is soothing and haunting.

40. She sings a lovely song in Ghar (1978), Bottle se ek baat, composed by R D Burman.

41. In the 1980s, she travels across the US, Canada and Britain to give concerts that draw thousands of South Asians. Unlike other singers, including Lata Mangeshkar who remains stiff, she moves around. Her concerts are always lively.

42. She scales epoch-creating heights with the Rekha-starrer Umrao Jaan (1981). Khayyam's soft, lingering songs like In aankhon ki masti mein and Dil cheez are among the best film songs ever composed.

43. Though there is no composer like Nayyar who will give her all the songs in a film, she continues to get the best from newer and older composers. O Maria in the Kamal Haasan-Rishi Kapoor-Dimple starrer Saagar (1985) further enhances her reputation.

Sunny Deol, Poonam Dhillon in Sohni Mahiwal 44. Anu Malik asks her to sing for the 1984 hit Sohni Mahiwal, starring Sunny Deol, Poonam Dhillion and Zeenat Aman.

45. RD reinvents his and Asha's career with an astounding score in the 1987 Gulzar film Ijaazat. The hauntingly sad song Mera kuch samaan sounds sadder by Asha's passionate rendering. Pancham and director-lyricist Gulzar have said that Mera kuch samaan was a very difficult song to sing as the lyrics were written in prose.

46. With the rise of singers like Anuradha Paudwal and Alka Yagnik, her career starts sliding but she simply cannot be written out. Witness her songs in Khoon Bhari Maang (1988), composed by Rajesh Roshan.

47. RD's career is shaky in the late 1980s with too many flops. Yet, from time to time, he and Asha come out with winning melodies like Pyar ke modh par, a duet she sings with Suresh Wadkar in Vidhu Vinod Chopra's Parinda (1989).

48. She makes time for non-film melodies. Some of these songs are composed by the likes of Jaidev who had got her to sing some of his haunting melodies in Hum Dono and Mujhe Jeene Do.

49. The 1990 film Lekin is produced by Lata and her brother Pandit Hridaynath Mangeshkar. The film, whose score is composed by Hridaynath, sees Lata singing more numbers. But Asha also gets an opportunity to transform the intricate song Jhoote naina into a masterpiece.

50. She records a few songs such as Ave Maria abroad and sings Bow down mister with Boy George.

51. To commemorate her 60th birthday, EMI India releases three cassette sets of her 1933 works. Of these, her devotional songs in the cassette Bala Main Bairagan Hoongi comes as a surprise to those who are not fully familiar with her versatility. Here, she sings ghazals by composer Ghulam Ali with ease. The Golden Collection: The Ever Versatile Asha Bhosle, an anthology of popular film hits, is also released.

Urmila Matondkar and Aamir Khan in Rangeela 52. Composer A R Rahman ropes her in to sing in Ram Gopal Varma's Rangeela (1995). The song Tanha Tanha is especially famous. "Lata and Asha are legends," Rahman once told me. "I think of them only when I feel I have composed something that fits their stature."

53. She says she dislikes the remix business. She says she produced Rahul and I (1996), a remix of songs she had done with her late husband R D Burman, because she was afraid someone else would come up with a terrible remix.

54. In Daud (1997), the O bhanware number with Yesudas reminds listeners that Asha is still in command over her voice. The music is composed by Rahman.

Asha and Leslie Lewis perform at a concert 55. Among her other outstanding non-film albums is Dil Padosan Hain in which she does terrific justice to R D Burman's complex tunes, just the way Lata boosted Burman's compositions in films like Aandhi.

56. Janam Samjha Karo, a non-film album with Leslie Lewis, is a big hit and wins Asha the 1997 MTV Award.

57. Kamal Haasan's Hey! Ram is a box office dud but Asha and veteran South Indian composer Ilayaraja create a haunting melody with the song Janmon ki.

58. Legacy, another non-film album, is a collaboration between Ustad Ali Akbar Khan and Asha. The project, which celebrates classical music, is a big hit.

59. Govind Nihalani's Takshak (1999) bombs, but Rahman's score gets much praise. One of the best songs in the film, Rang de, goes to Asha Bhosle.

60. Rahman gives her yet another memorable tune in Subhash Ghai's Taal, Kahin aag lage, a song proclaiming the pain of unfulfilled love.

61. Vishal Bharadwaj, another composer of the new generation, gets her to sing the title track in Dil Pe Mat Le Yaar (2000), starring Tabu and Manoj Bajpai.

Asha and Ustad Ali Akbar Khan 62. Asha gets the Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award. She had long ago, after having won half a dozen Filmfare Awards, asked not to be considered for the annual Filmfare Awards. But the 2001 Lifetime Achievement Award was different. It saluted a career that had led to songs in dozens of films not only in Hindi but a multitude of Indian languages.

63. The Kambakth ishq number in Pyaar Tune Kya Kiya (2001), composed by Sandeep Chowta, raised the younger composers' faith in the veteran singer. She is at her seductive best.

64. Asha gets the most coveted Dadasaheb Phalke Award in 2001. Lata, who had won the award a few years earlier, says the honour for Asha was long overdue.

65. Her duet with Udit Narayan, Radha kaise na jale, in the Aamir Khan-starrer Lagaan (2001) wins her more fame.

66. After singing for Gulzar's films like Lekin, Asha sings for his daughter Meghna's directorial debut, Filhaal (2002). Though the film isn't a success, Anu Malik's score is well received.

R D Burman and Asha 67. She turns composer with Aap Ki Asha (2002), but the album does not do well.

68. She starts a restaurant in Dubai. She says cooking has been a passion for many decades and she has been collecting recipes from all over India and trying them out in her kitchen.

69. The Chori pe chori number in Shaad Ali's Saathiya (2002) is another example of the wonderful bond between Rahman and Asha. "She is well beyond 60," says the composer. "But she sounds as fresh as someone who is 16!"

70. Asha Bhosle's concerts abroad continue to be big draws. She is not afraid to perform with Adnan Sami, whose popularity is soaring. Their performances in over a dozen cities in North America and the West Indies this summer are awesome. The two featured in the hot-selling album Kabhi to nazar milao.

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Design: Uday Kuckian

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