On Asha Bhosle’s 85th birthday, her didi Lata Mangeshkar’s fond thoughts

‘What Asha can sing I can tell you without any pretense of modesty I can never sing. I can never give the expression and style she did in <i>Aaja aaja main hoon pyar tera </i>and <i>Piya tu...</i>’, says Lata

Two legends: Asha Bhosle with elder sister Lata Mangeshkar (file photo)
Two legends: Asha Bhosle with elder sister Lata Mangeshkar (file photo)
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Subhash K Jha

What my sister Asha has achieved is amazing. I’m very proud of her. It’s said that no tree can grow under a large tree. I’m lucky that I never had to go out and seek work for my kith and kin. Whatever my brother Hridayanath and sister Usha have achieved in the music world, they’ve done on their own.

But I feel my presence has cast a shadow over their careers. Asha had to move away from my shadows to prove herself. And she did it so wonderfully! She set out to do what she had to on her own. And I feel very happy when I hear her songs in her new album Asha.

My sister has reached a stage in her career where she can attempt anything. I want her to touch the sky.... Please don’t make me sound like a sacrificing martyr by saying I let Asha sing the westernized songs. Aisa bilkul nahin. I just couldn’t connect with cabaret song.

What Asha can sing I can tell you without any pretence of modesty I can never sing. I can never give the expression and style she did in Aaja aaja main hoon pyar tera and Piya tu ab to aaja. It’s just not me. I was meant for softer, romantic songs.

As for our much-discussed personal relationship, let me make it very clear that we share a very good relationship. There is no stress. We meet very often. Though she doesn’t stay next door anymore. She has her morning tea with me whenever she’s here. If one is cooking in the same kitchen there’s bound to be some clamour.


It’s just routine family squabbles. Whenever Asha has a show she seeks my blessings first. I’ve heard her lyric-book has my picture in it. My relationship with none of my siblings is troubled. I fulfil the function of the eldest with all my siblings.

I am fortunate to have such siblings. People say all kinds of things about our relationship. There’s no fight between us. But yes, at a tender age Asha left home and got married. And she made a big name for herelf. I’m very proud of her.

I rate Asha very highly as an artiste and a singer. She didn’t become famous for nothing. She can sing every kind of song. Thank God she didn’t adopt my style of singing. If she had we’d have become competition for one another. She went on her own path. Yeh maanna padega ki woh bahut badi gayika hai.

We’re sisters and have always been that. Whenever we meet, we meet with affection. The fights were because of her husband who was against me.

Maybe he felt Asha didn’t get work because of Lata. He stopped her from coming to our house and he stopped us sisters from meeting. But then Asha and I started singing some duets together and would meet with warmth.

It is said that composers favoured my voice over Asha's. Not true. What about so many films where only Asha sang all the songs? In fact, O.P. Nayyar ji worked only with her. Even some of Burman dada’s scores had only Asha’s vocals. I wish Asha good health, peace of mind and more success.

(As told to Subhash K Jha)

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