Asha: A Brand New Album

By Kavita Chhibber


I have always said that Asha Bhosle is perhaps the greatest female singer of this era. It has been quite amazing to see her range, the way she has reinvented herself and retained the freshness in her voice. “I  studied many different styles so that I could create a style that was different” she said in an interview I did with her some time back. Today her voice and her presentations stand out for that very unique style she keeps reinventing and reassessing,  adding innovation after innovation. She has sung pop to classical to ghazal to English pop, and done it in her own inimitable style.

“When she did the chart buster album ‘Rahul & I’, she re-invented her own classic numbers, like chura liya, piya tu, dum maro dum, etc. and took these songs to the new young generation,” says her son Anand and adds “The original songs were recorded many years back with limited technology and the new generation had forgotten the original artistes. Once a dancer working in her show asked her whether she was doing Bally Sagoo’s song chura liya. The young kid did not know that the original composer of chura liya was R.D. Burman and the original singer was Asha Bhosle. This prompted her to redo the RD Burman classics and the album remains one of the highest selling pop albums.”

Following the success of Rahul & I, she did  the award winning ‘Janam Samjha Karo’ which became an overnight pop sensation. Then ‘Kabhi To Nazar Milao’, followed and it stayed on the number 1 slot for 47 weeks, setting an all time record.

Her latest offering “Asha - A Brand New Album” is yet another testimony of her range and her desire to tackle tough projects.

The album is a compilation of some of the most famous ghazals sung by stalwarts of ghazal gayaki. “It was indeed a tough project because these ghazals are immortal and are in the psyche of every ghazal lover in the voices of those celebrated singers, and because there are so unparalleled I decided to sing them my way” said Asha bhosle during a phone interview.

The ghazals range from Aaj Jane ki Zid Na Karo, by Fareeda Khanum, Sarakati Jaye Hai by Jagjit Singh, several ghazals made famous by Ghulam Ali, from Aawargi, Dil Mein ik lehar, chupke chupke raat din, to Mehdi Hassan’s Mujhe tum nazar se and Ranjish hi sahi to name some.

The idea to come up with this kind of an album was presented to them four years ago says Asha ji’s son Anand, “but unfortunately the record companies did not back this project. They felt that ghazals have a niche market and a relatively smaller following than pop. You will be surprised to know that the chart buster album ‘Kabhi To Nazar Milao’ was turned down by all the major music companies. Such is the music business.”

 Sa Re Ga Ma finally stepped in and the rest as they say is history as the album has raced up the charts.

Asha Bhosle says she wanted to improvise without taking away from the purity of the original ghazal and its music, so while she left the original tunes intact she decided to do away with some of the old instruments and give the album a fresh new look. As a result saxophone riffs, drums and guitar have been added. There may be some purists who may balk at the innovation because change is always hard to accept. The result however is soothing and mellifluous. Every ghazal sounds new and as if it was sung only by Asha ji.

“Pundit Somesh Mathur who has done his Masters in music, has done an excellent job in reinventing the music in these great ghazals, “ says Anand. “He has retained the sanctity of the ghazal and yet given it a pop sound, which is more in keeping with what the younger generation likes, but at the same time is not jarring for the traditional ghazal listeners,” says Anand and adds, “This is the first time that a ghazal album is number 1 on the pop album charts. It’s a crossover album and is doing very well.”

This album has opened the doors for the younger generation to enjoy the beauty of ghazal gayaki but with a contemporary beat. It  encompasses richness, good lyrics and melody;  combined with Asha Bhosle’s sparkling vocals it is a must have album for music lovers of all ages.

Read Kavita's Interview with Asha Bhosle

Read Kavita's Review of Asha Bhosle's 2005 concert to benefit the Raina Foundation

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in these columns are solely those of the writers and do not necessarily represent those of the editor/publisher.


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