Bollywood Nostalgia

Asha Bhosle: The Constant Warrior

Asha Bhosle clicked at her residence Prabhu Kunj in south Mumbai. Timeline: Summer of 1980. These exclusive photographs are from the archives of reputed photographer NK Sareen. Lata Mangeshkar also stays in the same building.

Very few in the music fraternity have gone through the trials that Asha Bhosle has. Her life, right from the very beginning, was dotted with extreme struggles. But she has shown extreme grit, determination and great strength of character.

Today, when I hear people complaining about how life has treated them unfairly, I think of Asha Bhosle who was subjected to domestic abuse early in her life and career. Understandably, she has sparsely spoken about the struggles that she has seen early in life. But here we will give you a glimpse of that.

She had a failed first marriage with Ganpatrao Bhosle, who was Lata Mangeshkar’s personal secretary.

Asha eloped with him at the age of 16, but the marriage did not last long. In Asha’s own words, Ganpatrao became suspicious of her and threw her out of her home. At that time she was already a mother of two, and pregnant with her third child.

Varsha, a gifted writer and Asha’s only daughter, once wrote a moving article about the extreme pain that she saw her mother go through. Till date, the article is one of the finest examples of a daughter recollecting the abuses that she had seen her mother go through.

Asha Bhosle at her residence, Prabhu Kunj, in south Mumbai.
Timeline: Summer of 1980.
These exclusive photographs are from the archives of reputed photographer NK Sareen.

During the early days of her career, Asha was stereotyped in Bollywood as a cabaret singer; she was never offered the best singing assignments. Often, she was offered rejected assignments. And the singer would take up every assignment that came her way.

There were days when she used to record four songs in a day, Asha would say while recalling her days of struggle.

The dark days, however, vanished with her successful pairing with OP Nayyar and then with RD Burman, who propelled her into one of the most successful singers of all-time in Bollywood.

A pertinent point to mention here would be that she never got an edge over other singers, because she was Lata Mangeshkar’s sister. In fact, she admitted that she was always unfairly compared to her sister. 

There was not a single assignment that came to her because Lata had recommended her.

A year ago, Asha came faced a personal tragedy yet again. Her daughter Varsha committed suicide by shooting herself with a revolver that was licensed to the veteran singer. Varsha, as Asha has repeatedly said in interviews, was a talented singer who took to writing instead. Those who knew Varsha would vouch for that fact she had inherited the passion for music from her mother, but had the conviction not to pursue a career in it.

Asha’s life has been a tale of constant struggle and at the same time, a tale of a successful woman. Today, she has found a second calling as a successful restaurateur and owns a chain of restaurants across the world.

She is also writing an autobiography, where she is penning down her memoirs. She told me over the phone from Dubai recently that the book should be ready in a couple of years.

It’s going to be a long wait for me as well as her fans.

All photographs are by NK Sareen and copyrighted to him. To know more about NK Sareen, click HERE. 
To contact NK Sareen on his facebook page, click HERE. You may send him a mail at

3 replies »

  1. Sound insights. It’s tough to have two people from the same house in the same profession. But Asha has fought all of that and emerged victorious. Waiting for her memoirs. Hope it gets a good editor and publisher, who can do justice to her legend


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