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When Asha turned foes with sister Lata Mangeshkar

New Delhi: World of music is no stranger to the melody queen Asha Bhonsle   Famous for playback singing, her repertoire is widespread. She has seen a career in the industry which is spanned over
India TV News Desk September 29, 2015 15:11 IST
India TV News Desk

New Delhi: World of music is no stranger to the melody queen Asha Bhonsle   Famous for playback singing, her repertoire is widespread. She has seen a career in the industry which is spanned over six decades. In 2006, she accepted that she has sung over 12000 songs. With many hit songs and awards to her credit, Asha Tai, as she is popularly referred to, will always be everyone's favourite.

Asha Bhosle, the great singer is also the younger singer to another legendary singer Lata Mangeshkar. The Mangeshkar sisters were inseparable in their childhood days. So much so, that Lata took Asha to school with her each day and when one day the teacher objected, she quit her studies.

It would come as a shock that these beloved sisters grew estranged for many years. The two most harmonious voices could only spur sourness about one another. So what happened between these blood related sisters that they could not see eye to eye?

Lata Mangeshkar started working when she was not even 14 years of age to support her family after her father died. Being the eldest one, Lata felt it was her responsibility to do so. Growing up she expected the same seriousness from her younger sister Asha.

But Asha as she is, the rule breaker, had craved a different path for herself. 16-year-old Asha eloped with a man named Mr. Ganpatrao Bhosle, who was 31 years old then. In one of her interviews Asha accepted that Lata did not approve of her marriage, “At one time, the relationship was very adversarial and there have been periods of non-communication.”

Lata also admitted that she thought this alliance wasn't in the best interest of her baby sister. “He stopped her from coming to our house and he stopped us sisters from meeting,” Lata had told in an interview to a leading daily.

Asha had three kids with Bhosle but their marriage saw an unhappy end and they moved apart. It would appear that after her marriage ended, things must have turned better between Lata and Asha. But the scars ran deep.

Lata had already outdone everyone in the industry and carved a niche by the time Asha was still struggling. During those days, Lata disapproved her close proximity with music director O. P. Nayyar. Nayyar who did not like Lata's behaviour stopped signing her for his songs and maintained a distance.

Nayyar had once revealed, “Asha and Lata, staying in opposite flats at Bombay's Peddar Road, shared a maid. The maid's responsibility was to come and tell the younger sister that Lata had just recorded something wonderful for Asha to lose her vocal poise. Such was Lata phobia that it took me some months to convince Asha that she had a voice individualistic enough to evolve a singing style all of her own.”

In her quest to not be overshadowed by her elder sister's persona, Asha sang every song which came her way. Lata's top position made her choosy singer and she selected songs on the basis of composer, tune and lyrics. Apparently, insiders of the industry say that this made Lata a stoic loner while her sister with her extrovert nature became the lovable one.

The rivalry became a constant trouble for musicians back then. They could not work with both of them and were forced to choose sides. The 1998 film Saaz directed by  Sai Paranjpye, is reportedly based on their lives. When Asha was asked a question about this in one of her interviews, she chuckled, "To have two women in long plaits, take a couple of incidents and exaggerate them into a 3-hour film is such a waste of time."

But as they say, family always sticks around. After being away for many years the sisters did bounce back to their roots. It happened when the younger brother of the two sisters Pandit Hridayanath Mangeshkar decided to give awards to people who have contributed significantly to the music industry. The first recipient of this award was Lata Mangeshkar who received it from superstar Amitabh Bachchan.   

The next year, Asha was felicitated and none other than her Lata didi gave her the award. “It is the award named after my brother and presented by my elder sister. That is far more precious than all the money and awards in the world.”

We can't argue with Asha's claim, “Tell me has there been anyone who is as good as the Mangeshkars? Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhosle are undoubtedly the best.