Asha Bhosle: A picture of positivity despite personal tragedies | music | Hindustan Times
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Asha Bhosle: A picture of positivity despite personal tragedies

Her voice fills you with hope, positivity and happiness. But Asha Bhosle has weathered many storms, a failed marriage and losing two children, in her life. A look at her personal life.

music Updated: Sep 08, 2016 09:17 IST
Nivedita Mishra
Asha Bhosle’s dignity belies the rough patches in her long and eventful life.
Asha Bhosle’s dignity belies the rough patches in her long and eventful life.(HT Photo)

Think of popular culture in contemporary India and a few well-known names will cross your mind. Now, think music and there’s no way you can miss the Mangeshkar sisters. And if Lata Mangeshkar has rightly been venerated as the Nightingale of India, it is her sister Asha Bhosle who remains arguably the country’s most popular singer across generations.

At her prime, Asha Bhosle always remained in the shadows of her older sister. She is, nonetheless, a tremendous talent and increasingly liked more. Her forte has been her magnificent range and versatility – rarely has the world seen an artist excel in so many varied genres.

Listen to Asha’s birthday special interview

Having said so, the fascination for Asha Bhosle rests not just in her class as a singer of exceptional calibre. Her songs reflect her attitude to life too – a fun-filled and a carefree lust for life. Her songs brought out the joy and excitement of youth, the yearning for fulfillment in life, an unabashed celebration of love, longing and lust. Unlike her older sister, coyness wasn’t a quality one associated with her. Above all, her joy for life was more than evident in her singing.

Yet, hers has been a life full of personal tragedies. As she turns a year older and celebrates her 83rd birthday on Thursday, HT sees her, up-close and personal.

An unhappy marriage

Asha Bhosle’s marriage to Ganpatrao Bhosle ended on a bitter note in 1960. (Subhendu Ghosh/HT Photo)

Asha Bhosle married her personal secretary, the 31-year old Ganpatrao Bhosle in 1949, when she was barely 16! It was a romance that nobody in her family approved of. So, she eloped and had three children with him, sons Hemant and Anand and daughter, Varsha. But hers was an unhappy marriage—she had to constantly deal with a suspicious husband and ill-treatment by her in-laws. The marriage ended painfully in 1960 when Asha was thrown out by her husband with two young children and pregnant with the third.

Varsha Bhosle commits suicide

Asha Bhosle’s daughter, Varsha, committed suicide in 2012. (PTI)

In October 2012, tragedy struck when Asha Bhosle’s daughter, Varsha committed suicide at her Peddar Road home. She shot herself in the head while her mother and brother were away in Singapore. A journalist by profession and a columnist with Rediff, Varsha reportedly had a troubled life. She was given to mood swings, which only her mother could handle. No one knows what really happened but it is commonly believed that she couldn’t handle the pressure of being the daughter of Asha Bhosle. Varsha had married a public relations professional, but the couple divorced in 1998.

Hemant Bhosle dies of cancer

In September 2015, Asha lost her elder son, Hemant, who died in Scotland. He had been battling cancer for many years. Their relationship too had been strained for over a decade, ever since he fell out with his wife Sajidah alias Rama Bhosle.

Her relationship with Lata Mangeshkar

Asha Bhosale and Lata Mangeshkar have consistently denied any rift between them. (Vidya Subramanian /HT Photo)

Whether or not, theirs was a bitter-sweet relationship, nobody will know fully. However, much has been speculated about the supposed rift between the two. What is known, however, that her marriage was a matter of rift between them, with Lata Mangeshkar supposedly disapproving of the match. Their singing styles too ever very different and at least, in the initial years, Asha did live in the shadow of her older sister. The sisters have routinely dismissed the rivalry as just tales, but a Bollywood film Saaz, directed by Sai Paranjpye and starring Shabana Azmi and Aruna Irani, said it all.