One of the most well-known singers of Indian film, veteran singer Asha Bhosle, who turns 89 on Thursday, raised her three children single-handedly.
Asha Bhosle, a veteran singer who turns 89 on Thursday, has been singing in movies since the 1940s. Even though Asha and her late sister Lata Mangeshkar were well-known singers in the early days of Hindi film music, she had to overcome numerous challenges in order to succeed. Asha was previously married to Ganpatrao Bhosle, with whom she had three children before getting married to music composer RD Burman. Asha revealed that during her previous marriage, her husband only earned Rs 100 per month, forcing her to partake in the home duties with him as well as care for the children and domestic tasks on her own.
Asha said in a 1993 interview with Salil Chowdhury, which was broadcast on Doordarshan Kolkata, that before she began singing, she lived away from Mumbai (then Bombay) and would travel on a train to come to the city. She had to leave her infant boy with her in-laws after giving birth to her son Hemant in 1949 so she could continue her singing career since she needed the money. “In order to go sing and get money, I would have to leave my one-month-old behind. During those trying times, I occasionally received a song and occasionally did not. I got up at five in the morning for riyaaz. In addition to all of this, I had to complete all of the household chores,” she said.
When Asha later moved to Borivali, she recalled that it was formerly a village. Asha was becoming more well-known as a singer, but she also had to collect water from the well, prepare all the meals, make lunches for the kids, pick them up from school, and even look after her in-laws. She would then spend the next few hours standing up while recording the songs, even though it may take up to eight hours. She recalled that the domestic duties remained her responsibility even when she moved into a larger home. “God has blessed me with a lot of energy and a strong will.” I would never refuse to do anything. I would sing while on my feet for whatever long it took 6-8 hours. Sometimes all night long,” she stated. She revealed that despite beginning to support herself adequately and travel herself to the studios in her car, she would still have to return home in the middle of the day to prepare her children’s meal.
Asha and her husband divorced in 1960, and he died in 1966. Since the divorce, she had been raising her children alone and was now a single parent who was completely accountable for their well-being. In a 2007 interview with the ITMB show, Asha said that many older people would complain to her singing style because of the cabaret songs she was known for. “People would ask the reasons for singing such songs. I asked should I leave it? Then, who will look after my kids? Was it my goal to sing for happiness? The need was mine. I had to raise my children”, she said.
The veteran singer said that being a single parent in a society like India was not an easy task but that she was driven by her responsibilities for her children’s education and future. “You are aware of how poorly single women are treated in India. However, I got through all of that,” she said.
While Asha Bhosle is certainly one of the most famous singers in the country, she knows the pitfalls of the profession far too well, which is why she was against the idea of her kids joining the film industry. Her oldest son, Hemant Bhosle, was a composer for a brief period of time and was named after the singer Hemant Kumar. “I was strongly opposed to their working in the film industry. Hemant Bhosle, my oldest son, managed to become a music director in spite of that”.
Even though Asha Bhosle is undoubtedly one of the most well-known singers in the nation, she is opposed to her children working in the film industry because she is too familiar with the drawbacks of the field. Her oldest son, Hemant Bhosle, worked as a composer for a brief period of time and is named after the singer Hemant Kumar. “I was strongly opposed to their working in the film industry. Hemant Bhosle, my oldest son, managed to become a music director in spite of that. However, I didn’t want any of them to work in the music industry. Because there is a thing about films, if you’re fortunate and talented, people will hold you in high regard. But if you fall, you won’t even be aware of it. You will receive a tonne of work, but one day you won’t have anything. The old ones are forgotten as soon as someone new walks in,” she said. Asha claimed that she was frightened by the thought of what would occur to her children if the movies weren’t good to them. “What would my kids do if anything like this happened? So, I refused. You won’t enter this field, I said. I totally disallowed them”.
Hemant, Asha’s oldest child, died in 2015 after a long fight with cancer. Varsha, her daughter, committed suicide in 2012. Anand, her youngest son, has worked on a few Hindi cinema projects. Due to health issues, he was hospitalised in Dubai in April.