Asha in Ten Moods

A couple of months back, blog reader Shalini alerted me to the fact that this year was Asha Bhonsle’s 80th birthday. Would I be doing a special post to mark the occasion? I hadn’t known that it was such a landmark birthday for Asha, but I couldn’t miss this opportunity, because—at the risk of being labeled an iconoclast and inviting censure (and possible debates?)—I have to admit that I tend to prefer Asha to her sister Lata.

Unfortunately, most people tend to associate Asha Bhonsle only with the sultry, ‘cabaret’ songs that she sang for umpteen songs picturised on vamps, all the way from Helen to Parveen Babi. Few remember that Asha’s was also the voice of the hauntingly beautiful Yehi woh jagah hai, or the bhajan Tora man darpan kehlaaye.

To compile a list of my ten favourite Asha Bhonsle songs would be impossible; there are far too many Asha songs that are simply out of this world as far as I’m concerned. So I decided to celebrate Asha’s birthday with this list: ten Asha solos, from pre-70s films, all in different moods. Not merely seductive, not merely cheerful or come-hither, but songs that are proof of Asha’s superb versatility. As always, these are from films I’ve seen.

Asha Bhonsle

Here goes:

Madcap: Daiyya yeh main kahaan aa phansi (Caravan, 1971): This song has to be one of the most ‘unlikely to be filmed on a heroine’ songs made in Hindi films back in the good old days—because the heroine is neither being romantic nor come-hither, neither maternal nor sad, but an utter clown. Asha Bhonsle, singing to RD Burman’s music, called Daiyya yeh main kahaan aa phansi the most difficult song she ever sang. And I can well imagine it: this is a tough song to sing, very fast-paced, the notes going low, high, and through the roof, while the lyrics are mostly nonsensical enough to make it even more difficult to sing them correctly.

Yet, Asha is flawless. She sings this with a panache and a nuttiness that does not, however, detract from the sheer skill of her performance. Superb, and funny.

Daiyya yeh main kahaan aa phansi, from Caravan
Seductive: Aaiye meherbaan baithiye jaan-e-jaan (Howrah Bridge, 1958): Asha did seductive very, very well: she could infuse her voice with a deliciously smoky sultriness that was perfect for everything from a come-hither Yeh hai reshmi zulfon ka andhera, to a part-seductive, part-playful Raat akeli hai.

While I love both those songs—and a host of others, in a similar vein—for me the ultimate Asha-in-seductive-mode song is this one. Her voice, while sweet, doesn’t ascend into the shrill even when she’s singing at a high note, and Asha brings into her tone the same self-assurance in her own attractiveness that Madhubala portrays onscreen. Not just a very seductive song, but also a good example of a singer ‘acting’ through her voice.

Aaiye meherbaan, from Howrah Bridge
Lonely: Jab chali thandi hawa (Do Badan, 1966): Most people tend to associate Asha’s voice with either OP Nayyar or RD Burman, both of whom gave her some of her biggest hits.

Ravi, I think, should be added to that list—and this song is a fine example of what magic Ravi’s composition and Asha’s voice could work. The music is melodious, rippling and fluid, with an interesting combination of very Indian sounds (the rhythmic clapping, and the tabla) with distinctly Western touches, too—and Asha’s rendition follows the same pattern. It has all the sweetness one expects of a female voice in a Hindi song, but without the shrillness most Western-attuned ears find jarring. A beautiful song of loneliness and yearning for a beloved.

Jab chali thandi hawa, from Do Badan
Philosophical: Aage bhi jaane na tu (Waqt, 1965): Asha sings for Ravi, again—and a song that is one of my favourites, ever—because of its sheer all-round perfection: lyrics, music, rendition, picturisation (and the fact that it is a rare instance of a Hindi film song in which the story actually progresses a lot in the course of the song).

If you only watch Aage bhi jaane na tu, or listen to it without paying attention to the lyrics, you may well think of it as just another fabulous crooner song. What it is, though, is a song about a ‘this is the moment’ philosophy. The past is gone; who knows what the future holds—so grab this moment before it too is gone.

I cannot help but admire the way Asha sings this. It’s a difficult song to sing, yet she does it seemingly effortlessly, bringing in a sort of lazy sultriness into her voice that conveys the emotion of the song—and very effectively portrays, too, the quintessential ‘club crooner’ of the 60s.

Aage bhi jaane na tu, from Waqt
Patriotic: Saare jahaan se achcha (Bhai-Bahen, 1959): As a school girl, I sang this song umpteen times—it was a staple in our school assembly, and after I’d sung it a few years to the tune, I was heartily sick of it. But this version (with lyrics by Jaan Nisar Akhtar) is a different kettle of fish altogether. While it uses the first two lines of Iqbal’s original poem, it goes a completely different way after that. And the music (by N Dutta) is more melodious, making it less of a ‘marching song’ than the way we used to sing it in school.

The icing on the cake is Asha’s rendition of Saare jahaan se achcha. While older sister Lata may be credited with the more well-known patriotic songs—like Vande mataram or Ae mere watan ke logon, this one works just as well (if not better) than those. Her voice is very sweet and handles the twists and turns of the music perfectly. Very stirring, actually; enough to make this one of my favourite patriotic songs.
(Interestingly, this same song, in the form of a duet sung by Asha and Rafi, was also part of Dharmputra, 1961).

Saare jahaan se achcha, from Bhai-Bahen
Heartbroken: Pyaar par bas toh nahin (Sone ki Chidiya, 1958): I’m taking a minor liberty with this particular song, because while Asha did record Pyaar par bas toh nahin, it was not included in the film—or was later removed, I’ve not been able to discover which. The Talat Mahmood version of the song is still part of the film, and is one of my favourite songs.
This song, even though I hadn’t heard of it till a couple of months back (and so was a little—illogically, I admit—biased in favour of Talat’s version), ended up being as much a hit with me as was the Talat version.

Pyaar par bas toh nahin, in its female avatar, is a song not of a budding romance, but of a broken romance. Jilted by the man she loved—and who perhaps once loved her in his own selfish way—the heroine sings of her despair, of how he has shattered her world…
I love the way Asha sings this: she’s very restrained, not wailing her sorrow or letting her voice throb in a travesty of tragedy. Instead, the heartbreak is controlled, and is more poignant for that.

Pyaar par bas toh nahin, from Sone ki Chidiya
Romantic: Saba se yeh keh do (Bank Manager, 1959): Until I watched Bank Manager, I’d thought this song was one of the most beautifully romantic I’d ever come across. A woman letting a man know, in no uncertain terms—and in full view of the public—how she feels about him.

After watching Bank Manager, I realized how farcical this actually was, because Minoo Mumtaz’s character, far from being in love with Shekhar’s character, is merely trying to entrap this man (who’s actually happily married). That, however, does not change my opinion about the almost lyrical beauty of Saba se yeh keh do. Madan Mohan, one of my favourites, here allows Asha’s voice to shine forth in all its sweetness, undistracted by much orchestration.

Despite the scenario, still a gloriously romantic song.

Teasing: Dekhne mein bhola hai (Bombai ka Babu, 1960): A young woman, meeting—after many, many years (so long, in fact, that nobody even recognizes him)—her long-lost brother, introduces him to her sahelis. She warns him; this is a village of fairies: he should guard his heart. And she warns them: do not make fun of him, for he is the prince of handsome men.

What makes this song especially likeable for me is the way Asha sings it, the little bits of emotion that show in her voice at different stages. Besides the generally teasing air of the song, there’s the momentary soulfulness of when she sings “Gali-gali gaon ki re jaagi hai sote-sote”, as if ruing the past loneliness; there’s the sudden, almost sultry twist to “Gaon hai yeh pariyon ka, dil ko bachaana”, and there is the almost flirtatious playfulness of “Haseenon ka shahzada hai, hansi na udaana ji”.

Dekhne mein bhola hai, from Bombai ka Babu
Nostalgic: Main jab bhi akeli hoti hoon (Dharmputra, 1961): This is a somewhat hard-to-pinpoint song as far as emotion or mood is concerned, because there can be several interpretations to this song. Firstly, since it’s not actually sung onscreen by the very sad heroine, but is played on a gramophone, it can—if one goes only by the words—be interpreted as a romantic song. It, does, in fact, evoke in the mind of the pregnant but unmarried Husn Bano (Mala Sinha) memories of her romance with the man she loved so much.

Secondly, the song reflects Husn Bano’s sorrow; her father refused the match, and threw her lover out. Where he is, Husn Bano does not know. Whether she will see him again, she does not know. All that is left to her are her memories.
A beautiful song that looks back on past loves, present sorrow, and perhaps future despair—and all of those emotions are perfectly rendered by Asha as she proceeds through the stanzas. Just listen to the difference in her tone between the second and the last verses, and you’ll know what I mean.

Main jab bhi akeli hoti hoon, from Dharmputra
Haunting: Yehi woh jagah hai (Yeh Raat Phir Na Aayegi, 1966): For me, no list of great Asha Bhonsle songs could be complete without this song—it is, in my opinion, one of her very best.

Here, Sharmila Tagore does a blast from the past: as a woman who claims to be an ancient dancer, now urging her long-lost reincarnated lover to come back to her. This song consists mainly of reminding the man (a spooked-out Biswajit) of all his long-ago promises, of all that he has forgotten. The misty atmosphere, the lyrics, the relatively subdued music (which swells only in the interludes)—all contribute. But most of all, there’s Asha’s voice: serene, melodious, and hauntingly beautiful. Yehi woh jagah hai gives me gooseflesh like few other songs can.

Yehi woh jagah hai, from Yeh Raat Phir Na Aayegi
Happy birthday, Ashaji! May you live long, and may your songs last forever.

Readers: Let’s make it a celebration, shall we? Tell me what songs you’d have added to this list!


88 thoughts on “Asha in Ten Moods

  1. Agree, agree and agree–for the most part. This is your list so I will not quibble, but chain se humko kabhi and naseeb ho ga mera meherban kabhi na kabhi would make it to mine


  2. My last attempt at posting this seemed to disappear so here’s trying again. The only song I’d add to the list is the one I use as my wife’s Caller ID ID ringtone – O Saathi Re.

    Sentimental bias aside, I think Aaiye meherbani really highlights the strength of the playback system. Two artists at their peak both doing what they do best and coming together to create something more than the sum of its parts.


    • The O saathi re from Muqaddar ka Sikandar? Or is there another one?

      I agree totally with your observation about the strength of the playback system as revealed in Aaiye meherbaan. It is one of those songs that seem just so perfect when watched. Madhubala is exquisite, and Asha is equally sublime as her voice.

      I have to admit that when it comes to good music, I think Hindi cinema had a definite edge over Hollywood. Even the big musicals in Hollywood rarely manage to excite me as much as Hindi film songs do.


  3. Wow! Asha in ten moods! A very good idea!
    this must have taken you a long long time. Sifting through all those beautiful songs must have been hard work, although also quite enjoyable.
    I agree with your list whole-heartedly.
    One mood if I may add, if it can be called a mood; a maternal mode let us say
    chanda re chanda re from Lajwanti

    Happy Birthday Ashaji!


  4. Happy Birthday Ashaji. She will be pleased with the lovely bouquet of songs you have chosen for her.

    I know you don’t like Sandhya, but this song is lovely, you can just ‘listen’.

    You have avoided the cabaret number, but here is one. Zubi zubi je l’aime vous


    • I took your advice, Ava, and stuck to listening to Tum mere main teri – what a lovely, lilting song. Beautiful!

      Zuby zuby je l’aime vous is a really sexy song – but where would I stop if I started listing the Asha cabaret songs that I like? ;-) There are just too many, so I bracketed them all into the ‘seductive’ mood, and then picked my favourite – which is Aaiye meherbaan. But I’m glad you picked this one, since it’s one of my favourites too.


    • This is a great list of ‘mood’ songs as well as the addition of the Navrang song. Not sure, where you will categorise these songs, but here goes:

      1) Paan Khaiyon Saiyya hamaro from Teesri kasam – a lovely song with a rhythm that Asha captures so well
      2) Jayiye Aap Kahan from Mere Sanam – an OP and Asha classic.
      3) Zindagi Ittefaq hai – Aadmi Aur Insaan – though we have Mahendra Kapoor crooning a few lines, this can be considered an Asha solo. I love Asha’s sighs and the lovely drum roll in Ravi’s composition. This can also be an addition perhaps to the ‘in the moment’ philosophy.


      • Nice suggestions, and one of those – Jaaiye aap kahaan jaayenge – was on my long list too. Wonderful song, but I couldn’t quite figure out which mood it would fit. Probably romantic, but if it came to that, I thought Saba se yeh keh do fitted it better.

        I was being very brutal when it came to what qualifies as a solo (barring choruses), so even a single verse sung by another singer automatically disqualified a song for me. Therefore, no Zindagi ittefaq hai – but a fantastic song nevertheless. Am glad you mentioned it!

        Paan khaaye saiyyaan hamaaro is a hard song to pin to a mood, no? I can’t figure that one out. Probably somewhat seductive.


  5. Lovely list! “Jab Chali Thandi Hawa”(Do Badan),”Dekhne Mein Bhola”(Bambai ka Babu1960), “Aage bhi jaane na tu”(Waqt) are my favorite songs. Some of my other favorite songs of Asha are-
    “Jhumka Gira Re” -Mera Saaya (1966)

    “Zara Haule Chalo MoreSaajna” Sawan Ki Ghata (1966)

    “Jahan Me Aisa”-Hum Dono (1961)

    “Bhanwara Bada Nadan Hain” Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam (1962)


    • Coolone160, thank you for adding these songs (especially the one from Hum Dono, which tends to get overlooked in favour of the Rafi version). Bhanwra bada naadaan hai was on my shortlist for ‘Teasing’ songs too. :-)


    • Thank you, Karthik!

      Zindagi ittefaq hai had been on my longlist, until I remembered that it’s not an Asha solo. Even though she dominates the song, Mahendra Kapoor sings part of it. But yes, fabulous song when it comes to philosophy.


  6. A good list as always, Madhu, though I disagree with you completely re. preferring Asha to her older sister Lata. Actually, that might be the case for me if we’re talking about 1981 ;) , but for the Golden Age, I don’t think Asha comes close to Lata. (I’ve had conversations about this with AK from Songs of Yore, who agrees with me. Maybe he’ll be stopping by here. :) ) It is true, though, that Asha did a much wider range of songs than many people might realize, and she did playback singing for many of my favorite scenes and favorite actresses.

    All of the songs in your list are good… I guess my favorite song and scene from that would be the one from Bank Manager. In the comments, my favorite is Ava’s suggestion from Navrang (as well as every other Asha song from Navrang). And I am still very much a fan of Sandhya. In fact, she is presently the star of my blog’s image header/banner and will be prominently featured in my next post there.

    Though there were other actress-dancers who were more skillful by traditional standards. And thinking of one of them… This song features Asha in a mood that hasn’t been covered yet. The best word that I could come up with for this is…haranguing!


    • Heh. :-) ‘Haranguing’ is a good (and very unusual!) mood for a Hindi film heroine (or supporting actress, as in this case). And this song fits the bill perfectly, Richard.

      I suppose there’s really no end to the Lata-Asha debate (and, no – I don’t want to get into a discussion of who’s better, because I think it’s very subjective). While I like Lata a lot – and there are plenty of songs she’s sung that I cannot imagine anyone else singing as beautifully – I have the teeniest bit more liking for Asha. Looking at their respective corpuses of work, I find Asha’s work more versatile, with more examples of songs that span styles and genres. For instance, I can imagine Lata singing a Saba se yeh keh do or a Pyaar par bas, but not an Aaiye meherbaan or a Daiyya yeh main kahaan aa phansi

      But, as I said, subjective. So let’s agree to disagree, shall we? (Though, now, looking back at what I’ve just written, I realise I have taken up the gauntlet).


    • Preferences in music are very personal. You have to ‘tune’ and ‘vibe’ with a particular singer, composer or song. It is hard to describe these preferences in words as they are more of a ‘feel’.

      I guess from a potential and range perspective, Asha proved (in 1970s and later) that she can compete with the best. Of course, she had some gems in the golden era as well. But most opportunities in the golden era (1950s and 60s) went to Lata. When you listen to some Lata songs, you feel that no one can sing like her. For example, I cannot imagine Lata’s soulful songs in Woh Kaun Thi in Asha’s voice.

      In all fairness to both Lata and Asha, I think it is best not to rank them as 1 or 2. Both should be admired for their strengths and contribution, with any comparisons. I tend to stay away from comparisons or ranking of such stalwarts. I therefore prefer to ‘group’ the best as the top 3 without any rankings. I did that in my posts on top 3 composers of the golden era. Thus far, I have grouped Naushad and Madan Mohan as among the top 3. Even the filtering of ‘top 3’ is based on some criteria which are very personal. Posts at

      Lata is Lata and Asha is Asha…..We are lucky to have seen and heard these two legends who gave so much of joy to us.


      • In my opinion, even a ‘top three’ grouping would not be objective, because it’s still a question of what appeals to an individual. For example, I may list Geeta Dutt, Asha, and Lata as my three favourite female singers – but then I’m overlooking something as wonderful as Suman Kalyanpur’s rendition of Na tum humein jaano or Meena Kapoor’s utterly beautiful Kuchh aur zamaana kehta hai. That’s why I never label my lists as ‘top’ something-or-the-other. They’re always ‘my favourites’: which implies that these are my favourites, and that I don’t expect them to be everybody else’s favourites.


  7. What a lovely post, Madhu! But then, I have always admired your “…in ten moods” lists because I agree with you that it is so, so difficult to choose just ten songs otherwise. Actually, even this must have been a difficult, albeit enjoyable job. :)

    I like all the songs in your list, but my absolute favourites are Aaiye meherbaan, Daiyya mein kahaan aa phansi and Yehi ek jagah hain. My additions?
    1. Kaun aaya ke nigaahon mein from Waqt – Anticipation (perhaps?)

    2. Chain na humko kabhi from Pran Jaaye Par Vachan Na Jaaye – Resignation? Sorrow? (I know it is not included in the film, but her voice is so mature, so pure.)

    3. Another one for nostalgia: Ab ke baras from Bandini

    (I love this song!) This was Asha-SD at their best; very little instrumentation, just Asha’s voice soaring and ebbing with such pathos. O Panchchi pyaare is another song from the same film that I like very, very much.

    4. Aisa lage kahin door se from Trishagni – way outside the scope of your blog, I know, but oh, such a beautiful song. I don’t know what mood I can attribute to it. Sheer enjoyment, perhaps? Or freedom? In the context of the film, this is the first time the heroine, brought up in a monastery, is free to enjoy nature, and express her feelings.

    Another Salilda-Asha combination I like is Baagh mein kali khili from Chand aur Suraj.

    Now I will stop before I provide my own list, and content myself with listening to your selections, and the ones that the comments have thrown up so far. :) Hopefully it will help with my migraine.


    • Thank you, Anu – both for the appreciation and for the songs you suggest! I especially, especially love Kaun aaya ke nigaahon mein and (though you’ve only mentioned it) O panchhi pyaare. The latter had been on my short list for this post, but didn’t make it, because I couldn’t quite figure out what mood it should be. Sorrowful, definitely, in some way – but what?

      I hadn’t heard the Trishagni song before. Beautiful! It’s so lilting and lovely – very Middle Eastern sort of tune. Loved it. :-)

      Coincidentally, just yesterday on Facebook, a friend of mine had posted Baagh mein kali khili as a song to mark Asha’s birthday. The discussion that ensued ended up with the Chemmeen song of the same tune.


  8. Happy Birthday Ashaji.
    Thank you DO for this ‘mauka’ of celebrating it with some of her wonderful songs.
    I love aaiye meherban and daiyya re daiyya happens to be the funniest song ever picturized. The only time I quite like Jeetender very much. He didn’t know what to do with that egg, did he? LOL

    I had the opportunity of listening to Asha Bhonsle live in Zurich on 15th August some years ago. Must be 5/6 years ago. To think that she muct have been around 75 then and with such control over her voiye. Amazing. She sang some duets with Kishore Kumar’s son. She even tried her hand at comedy by picking a song and showing us how Lata would sing it, or Geeta would. Hahaha. She didn’t succeed absolutely but it was funny :-)

    Personally I don’t know who I like better Lata or Asha, because it is mostly songs I
    like which sound excellent and may be sung by either.
    A song from Ek Musafir Ek Haseena. Asha’s voice is sparklingly clear and melodious with music by O P Nayyar.


    • “He didn’t know what to do with that egg, did he? LOL

      LOL! Yes, that is one of the very few songs in which I like Jeetendra (another one being a much later one, in a totally different mood – Musaafir hoon yaaron). But Daiyya yeh main kahaan aa phansi is one of those songs that are so very entertaining – something pretty hilarious is going on most of the time, what with the hens racing about, Asha Parekh’s dress unravelling, and that lampshade being used as a hat. So much fun! :-)

      Mmm. I envy you, having got the opportunity to watch Asha live in concert! That must have been quite something.


  9. I am late, so I see everybody has posted all the songs that I would have liked to post, you see my dental problems appear to be worse than what I thought and am little down and out, but that doesn’t stop me from doing what I like best and that is my trivia section. No, no, do not worry my dental treatment and injections hasn’t muddled me up so much that I will forget that I am not doing a post for my blog– HA! HA!- but you know how I am, I love sharing anecdotes. I cannot talk about them in my blog, your blog provides me with an excellent platform to do so.
    First of all let me tell you your selection is excellent considering the difficult task you set yourself – just ten songs- not easy at all. My favourites from your list are aage bhi jaane, yehi woh jagah hai, daiya re. As for the last song there is something interesting that Asha Parekh once said in an interview. She said she had a tough time dancing to this song, she said she really felt,daiya re main kahan aa phansi because she is an accomplished dancer and the director asked her to dance like a non-dancer that was what she found tough.
    There is another Asha Bhonsle solo I really like but what I am told by someone connected to the music industry is that the voice we hear in the movie is not Asha’s but her daughter Varsha’s voice, however the voice on the record is Asha Bhonsle’s. Apparently Varsha was nervous while recording the song so her mother did the needful, I have no way of verifying whether this is true or not but the voice in the movie definitely sounds a little different from the one in the record. The film is Junoon and the song isghir aayee kaali ghata matwali I noticed that both Asha and her daughter’s name is mentioned alongside this song on Wikipedia, so just hear it and take a guess I think it is her daughter’s voice.—- Shilpi


    • Shilpi, I love it when you share these delightful little anecdotes with the rest of us! I had also heard about Asha Parekh’s recollections of how difficult it was to ‘not dance’ to Daiyya yeh main kahaan aa phansi. But I didn’t know about the confusion regarding who sang Saawan ki aayi bahaar re (which, sadly, I had anyway forgotten about, despite the fact that I have seen Junoon. I recalled the song only when I began listening to the link you embedded).

      There’s another Asha song about which there’s a good deal of confusion. (Maybe you can help, since this was one of your father’s best movies?) Tum jiyo hazaaron saal from Sujata:

      While Asha has sung it (and that’s the version used in the film), Geeta Dutt apparently had also sung a version. In fact, my parents have a ‘Best of Geeta Dutt’ LP which contains that song – but people have since told me that even that album actually has Asha’s version mistakenly being passed off as Geeta’s. It seems the Geeta version has gone missing. Big mystery there!


      • I am sorry Madhu, I have no idea about that one but there is one thing that I know is that Geeta Dutt was well settled in her position as a playback singer when Asha Bhonsle was trying to gain a foothold in the industry,but soon after she got married she sang only for Guru Dutt’s films, what I heard was that he did not allow her to sing for anybody else, now the buzz in the industry was that Asha Bhonsle was trying to establish herself and wanted to move out of her more successful sister’s shadows so she began imitating Geeta Dutt’s style of singing so much so that people often got confused as to who sang which song. As Geeta Dutt was not available the music directors turned to Asha. By the time Sujata happened I think Geeta Dutt had separated from her husband or maybe her husband had relented and she begun singing for other productions. But I have no clue about this song and anyway I was an infant then and all that stuff that I have just mentioned is what I used to overhear people within the industry talking amongst themselves.


        • Thank you, Shilpi! No matter if you don’t know about the details of that particular song, but your narration of how Asha’s career progressed in the 50s and 60s makes for interesting reading.


  10. Excellent list – and restricting your list to pre-70s was a great idea, because in today’s consciousness Asha Bhonsle is mainly associated with RD Burman movies and cabaret songs. I would add two more gems from Howarh Bridge – ‘Dekh ke teri nazar …’ and ‘Yeh kya kar dala tune …’. Both feature the seductive Asha- Madhubala combination. Also please publish a list of top ten Asha duets (again pre-70s) – with some of the delightful Asha-Kishore and Asha-Rafi duets from movies like Paying Guest and Nau Do Gyarah.


    • Thank you! :-)

      The restricting of the list to the pre-70s era was because my blog itself very strictly restricts itself to the pre-70s: I don’t review films or make lists beyond the 70s – the only exceptions extend to about 1970-1, and that too when the film or the song in question has a definitely 60s feel to it (for example, Pakeezah or Sharmeelee).

      I really love Dekhke teri nazarYeh kya kar daala tune a little less, but still a lot.

      Mmm. The idea of an Asha duets post is very enticing! I’ll do it some day, certainly. Good suggestion, thank you. Maybe a post with each song featuring Asha with a different singer.


    • One of my favourites, Anu! Love this song, but I couldn’t figure out whether it was seductive or what. Yes, I think coquettish is probably the most apt description for Najar laagi raja tore bangle par.


  11. dustedoff,
    Very goods songs, nice way of projecting asha’s versatility.
    she has so many wonderful songs to her credit, that, no matter how many of us keep adding new ones there will never be shortage.
    I agree with you, best mamta songs are sung by Geeta, probably Asha had that view too.
    See how well she has emulated Geeta in this beautifull song, much later in her career.


    • What a lovely song Munne mere aa is. I had seen Abhilasha many years ago, and the only song that stuck with me was Waadiyaan mera daaman – I’d completely forgotten about this song. It’s so gentle and sweet, just the sort of song to make a baby fall asleep!


    • I like the Amardeep song, but not so much Mere ang lag jaa balmaa or Aaj koi aayega. But if you like Asha singing for Padmini, then Kalpana is one film I’d recommend very highly. It has some lovely Asha-Padmini songs. Here is one that’s a particular gem; Bekasi had se jab guzar jaaye:


  12. I love your “list” posts in general, but I think this might be my favorite. Like you, I love Lata, Geeta, Suman, et al., but love Asha a bit more. Picking ten moods was a brilliant idea and an excellent way to showcase her truly incomparable versatility.
    All the songs you’ve selected are favorites of mine as well though I could never pin it down one per mood when in comes to Asha. :-)

    Some other possible moods:

    Spirtual/classical – man anand anand chhayo

    Children’s song -aiyee pari rang bhari

    Atmospheric? :-) – Chanda ki chandani ka jadoo


    • ” Picking ten moods was a brilliant idea and an excellent way to showcase her truly incomparable versatility.

      Thank you so much, Shalini! Your appreciation means a lot to me, because I think you have excellent taste in music. :-)

      And a very, very special thank you for reintroducing me to Chanda ki chaandni ka jaadoo. It’s been years since I heard this song, and I’d forgotten all about it – so good to hear it again. I didn’t even know which film it was from.


  13. Great piece on Asha. I agree with you – Yehi Woh Jagah Hai ranks near the top of my favorite Asha Bhonsle songs. It reminds me of another hauntingly beautiful song.
    It’s in Bengali and, in my opinion, has many similarites with Yehi Woh Jagah Hai. (Audio quality not very good)
    She sings it in a low register with no vocal gymnastics. Her delivery is so smooth and sensuous that it creates an ethereal mood.


    • I think one reason I am particularly fond of Yehi woh jagah hai is that when I was a baby, my mother used to sing this song to me as a lullaby! ;-)

      I had never heard Nei sei purnima raat before, but I agree about its resemblance to Yehi woh jagah hai. That same soft, restrained beauty. Very lovely. Thank you for that.


    • Mmm, yes. Nice. Asha really was very good at these seductive-faux romantic songs, wasn’t she? (And I agree that this one has especially good lyrics). Here’s another ‘come hither’ Asha song that I like a lot and which doesn’t get featured as much as it should; Aaiye aapka thha humein intezaar:


    • Oh, yes. :-) She has this impish sweetness in Mat jaiyo naukariya chhodke, which matches perfectly with Asha Parekh’s onscreen antics. I think the Asha-Asha pairing was really good; Ms Bhonsle managed to be the perfect voice for Ms Parekh. Here’s another one of their songs that I like a lot, Aankhon se jo utri hai dil mein:


  14. I was trying to think of an Asha “in intoxicated mode song” and had a devil of a time coming up with anything. In contravention of conventional wisdom, all the “nasha” songs that came to mind were by Lata!

    Anyway, I finally hit one on – the fab Aao huzoor tumko from Kismat:

    Asha also excelled at the “multi-mood” song, like the amazing ab jo mile hai from Carvan which combines seduction and pathos in the same composition:


    • What a coincidence. Just last night I was thinking of Aao huzoor tumko and wondering if anyone would post that in their comments! Thank you. :-) Such a fabulous song, this one.

      I’d forgotten about Ab jo mile hain – though of course, when I heard the song, I remembered it. And yes, quite a varying sort of song, going all the way from seduction to pathos – just as Main jab bhi akeli hoti hoon, going from romance to pathos, or Yehi woh jagah hai, doing romance, spookiness, and accusation.


  15. I love all her songs. But this one is special to me….Aaj yeh meri zindagi, dekho khushi mein jhumti jaane chali kahan Sorry still learning how to embed you tube videos.


    • Another Asha ghazal that I’m partial to is “ek lafz-e-mohabbat ka adana sa fasana hai” from Be-Reham. The shocker here for me is that the music is by Laxmikant-Pyarelal. :-)


      • I find her voice a little too shrill in places in Ek lafz-e-mohabbat. When it comes to ghazals, one of my favourites is Tang aa chuke hain from Light House (though the Rafi version from Pyaasa is gooseflesh-inducing, I like Asha’s version a lot too):


  16. Okay, I’m going to drop all pretense of adhering to a mood, and just post some of my favorite Asha songs. :-)

    Shama par jal ke bhi parwana – Meenar

    Tera dil kahan hai – Chandni Chowk

    Yeh kaun meri zindagi mein aa gaya – Bombay Racecourse

    Piya khul ke na nain milaye re – Milap

    Yeh duniya rahe na rahe (one of my favorite loris) – Mitti mein Sona

    I’ve been trying to find Asha’s version of “hum apne gham ko saja kar bahar kar lenge” from Madan Manjari, but sadly it’s not available anywhere online. :-(


    • Nice, Shalini! The majority of these songs you’ve posted (except for the ones from Milaap and Chandni Chowk) were new to me, so it’s been good discovering them. And it’s been especially lovely to listen to Tera dil kahaan hai all over again – I adore that song and can listen to it non-stop. :-)

      Here’s another one that also has Shekhar in it. Haai unki woh nigaahein:


      • The song Tera dil kahan hai to me seemed to be the original version of Rahe na rahe hum mehka karenge – from Mamta (1966). Both of them have the same mukhda. Are my ears deceiving me?


  17. As always, I enjoyed this post and the comments a geat deal, discovered some beautiful songs and revisited some old favourites. Asha’s versatilty is amazing.


    • I don’t think I’ve heard this song before, though it does sound familiar. Lovely song, Karthik. There were so many little-known films back in the 50s and 60s which had simply superb music…


  18. Madhu, you really have some dedicated followers! I get an email alert for a new blog post, and by the time visit the site it has already collected 40+ comments and left nothing for me to say! So let me say ditto, ditto, ditto for all the compliments already showered on you.

    Asha is not one of my favourite singers, but I do like some of her songs. Most of them have already figured in your list and the comments. The ones I could add are two songs of introspective/romantic mood: ‘Kali ghata chhaye’ from ‘Sujata’ and ‘Naina hain pyase mere’ from ‘Aavishkar’. The second one was composed by Kanu Roy who came to prominence with ‘Anubhav’ when he brought back Geeta Dutt from oblivion and gave her some beautiful songs to sing. By the time Aavishkar came, however, Geeta had passed away and he opted for Asha. One more link between the two.

    I am confused by the discussion on ‘Bachpan ke din’. I always thought it was a duet with Geeta singing for Shashikala, and Asha humming for Nutan.


  19. As always, this is a wonderful list; and made all the enjoyable by other songs added via comments.
    I understand and for the most part agree with your decision to stick to pre 70’s songs, nevertheless, my choice is —

    Undoubtedly as other commenters have mentioned, currently Asha is more known for her cabaret and/or RD Burman songs, and DMD probably leads this list. As a movie, HRHK is a cult classic; but it and this song are not considered “NRI”.
    Whatever else may have been written about HRHK, it is also one of the few movies that lead an “inscrutable whitey” ( a white American) to personally identify with it.
    I am of course referring to Philip Lutgendorf (
    His last passage is as follows —
    [Yet the use of Kathmandu locations and the casting, as extras, of the very people who form its main subject gives Hare Rama, Hare Krishna at times the feel of a tables-turned ethnographic documentary—and this may be, in retrospect, the film’s most intriguing feature—in which anthropologist Anand serves as an Indian eye to gaze at the strange customs of the inscrutable whiteys. As an American who first went to India in 1971 at age twenty, longhaired and kurta-clad, I recognize, beneath the hokey plot trappings, more than a little uncomfortable accuracy in Anand’s portrayal of what was, after all, a very strange subcultural moment on the Subcontinent. To paraphrase Pogo, “Them was us!”].

    Such refreshing honesty from Philip Lutgendorf, deserves more exploration.

    I, like most other adolescent males in India in the 70’s, liked this song for its “coolness” its “western-ness” and the extremely attractive physical aspects of Zeenat Aman. Now that I am probably the same age as (or a little older) than Dev in real-life was in HRHK, I see a different Zeenat Aman. This young woman is no longer “hip” or “cool” or “sexy”; but exudes a rebellious-angst., and I now view her as her movie character. This initially uncomfortable realization is not only my experience being an “NRI/OCI”; but also now being a father of a 21 year old girl. In our own daughter (as in several other kids) I see similar signs of rebellion, angst, and a desire to explore the “not-so-comfortable”. While several NRI’s (like us) not only cope with this, but explicitly support it; in others I can certainly see traces of Kishore Sahu (Zeenat’s father in HRHK) and even Dev’s puzzlement, irritation and un-comprehension.
    To paraphrase Philip Lutgendorf, “Them Are Us”.

    Hence I believe this song is worthy of inclusion, and in time will be viewed by current Indians as perceptive and “ahead-of-its-time”.

    PS — Finally, I may be growing up :)


    • I love your comment, Samir. (Okay, not the song so much – somehow I’ve never been able to warm to Dum maaro dum), but I really enjoyed reading your comment. Somehow rebelliousness – at least as an adolescent – was never part of my life, probably because my parents didn’t really impose huge restrictions on me. (And you can only rebel against something, right?) I did become a bit rebellious when I got married – comments such as “You don’t wear jewellery” or “You should be doing things this way” bring out the worst in me. ;-)

      I’m so glad that you picked a mood that’s usually pretty rare in Hindi films. Moreover, songs sung by women, and that too back then.


  20. Asha Bhosale, apart from being an outstanding singer, was pretty rebellious as well; her own biography proves it. I have no idea whether DMD could be considered as her personal reaction, maybe other more knowledgeable may care to add.
    Re: “You don’t wear jewellery” —
    neither I nor my wife wear any; and when she was pregnant with our first child, a fellow student in a US graduate business school remarked —
    “Congratulations, do you know who the father is ? “


    • LOL! That’s a hilarious anecdote. :-) I do make an exception for my wedding ring, though – that is the only piece of jewellery I wear. But it took years and years for my mum-in-law to accept the fact that I wouldn’t go around wearing tons of jewellery, the way your typical North Indian woman would do. ;-)


      • yes,
        the chhed chhad attitude remains the same in both the songs!
        but look at this song, rafi has been given only few la la la la type of singing
        and no words at all………..
        this reminds us Thodasa dil lagake dekh
        by shamshad and rafi
        here also all singing lyrics r to shamshad and rafi does rum pum pum lala la la la……………………………….


        • Yup. I find songs like these interesting, where one singer is there only to lend support to the main singer. Even if the ‘supporting singer’ is a lead singer in their own right.


          • yes,
            but if we come to think of such songs. very few would emerge out from our minds!
            right now i am not been able to think of any song at all!
            but there r songs like that
            i will have to think!


            • There are some which are technically duets, but where one person sings the bulk of the song. The male version of Teri aankhon ke siva kya hai, for instance, has Asha (?) sing just one line, right at the very end. And Aankhon hi aankhon mein ishaara ho gaya has Rafi singing just the refrain – the rest of the song is by Geeta Dutt. But yes, this type – just doing la la la or something similar – is relatively rarer.


  21. hello,
    i am a few songs by asha & Jaidev Combo, from 70s i think,
    but r just wonderful!
    tumul kolahal kalah mein

    Madhur madhur mere deepak jal

    na main ladi thi

    kabhi neki bhi uske


  22. I don’t know which category ‘Chori Chori Solah singar karungi’ falls in.
    It is not seductive/come hither as object of affection is supposedly sleeping.
    Whatever it is – very impressively conveyed by Aashaji

    Liked by 1 person

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