HT THIS DAY: October 19, 2001 — Asha Bhonsle gets Dada Saheb Phalke award for her contribution to cinema
For nearly half a century, Asha Bhonsle’s voice has captivated audiences in India and abroad. O.P. Nayyar fans get nostalgic when they hear her songs and the MTV generation taps its feet to remixed versions.
New Delhi- This is one award over which there will be no dispute. Asha Bhonsle was today honoured with the Dada Saheb Phalke Award for her contribution to cinema. In the world of Indian films, there is no greater prize. And there is no argument over Asha Bhonsle’s greatness.
“I am very happy. It is a great honour for me,” said Asha when she heard about the award. But the news would also have been music to the ears of the vast legion of her fans around the world.
For nearly half a century, her voice has captivated audiences in India and abroad. O.P. Nayyar fans get nostalgic when they hear her songs and the MTV generation taps its feet to remixed versions.
Asha lived for many years under the shadow of her equally popular sister, Lata Mangeshkar, who was initially preferred by music composers in the highly competitive music environment of the fifties.
When Asha was struggling, Lata, Geeta Dutt, Shamshad Begum and Suraiya were all household names. Nayyar took her under his wing and she rendered some of the most memorable solo numbers heard in Hindi films.
“Piya, piya na laage mora jiya...” from Phagun and “Le ke pehia, pehia pyar...” (CID) with Shamshad and Rafi ushered in not only an era of melody but also gave Punjabi folk music a big boost.
It was O.P Nayyar who, by never ever using Lata’s voice, became instrumental in shaping Asha’s career. The two, however, parted ways during the making of Pran Jaye Par Vachan Na Jaye when Asha sang her last song for Nayyar, “Chain se humko kabhi...”
Asha’s parting with Nayyar coincided with the beginning of another great partnership: this time with Rahul Dev Burman, whom she eventually married.
The Pancham-Asha combination took the world of music by storm and hit after hit resulted. “Chura liya hai tumnejo dil ko, nazar nahin churana sanam...” from Yaadon Ki Barat and “O mere sona re, sona re, sona...” from Teesri Manzil are just two songs that come to mind.
Asha Bhonsle hasn’t just survived through the ages. She has thrived. From working with Shankar-Jaikishan for Raj Kapoor’s magnum opus Mera Naam Joker to singing playback for Karisma Kapoor in Dil To Pagal Hai she has done it all.
Of course, her fans would say, there’s lots more to come.