Asha Bhosle has been declared the greatest Bollywood playback singer of all time by UK-based Eastern Eye newspaper. The legendary singer beat off tough competition from a pool list compiled from the past 85 years. The selection takes into account factors including number of songs, honours, international impact, versatility, fan base and popularity amongst fellow music industry professionals.
The evergreen 81-year-old was quite surprised after hearing she topped the list. “I thought being called the greatest was the prerogative of boxer Muhammad Ali. I thank Eastern Eye and everyone for tolerating me all these years,” said Asha. Her sister Lata Mangeshkar came in second while Mohd Rafi and Kishore Kumar were third and fourth placed respectively.
Eastern Eye entertainment editor Asjad Nazir, who compiled the list, thinks Asha deserved to top the list. “Apart from being the most prolific singer the world has ever known, Asha’s versatility has seen her have an incredible career spanning eight decades. The record-breaking singer has taken Bollywood music across new frontiers and with Brimful Of Asha had a globally successful chart-topping song dedicated to her,” said Asjad.
His sentiments were echoed by UK-based singer Rita Morar who voted for Asha, describing her as as a phenomenon for what she has shared with the world musically. “Not only has she shown her versatility through songs like Piya Tu, Duniya Mein, Jaiye Aap Kaha and Dil Cheez Kya Hai, she has broken barriers of music genres and kept her power of emotion and energy in her music. That to me is pure inspiration and very encouraging,” said Morar.
Rapper Swami Baracus said while Lata Mangeshkar had the bigger status, Asha has been the greater singer. “The diverse range in Asha-ji’s voice gives her the vocal edge, but what really sets her apart is her versatility. High-profile International collaborations including Boy George, REM’s Michael Stipe, Kronos Quartet and even Australian cricketer Brett Lee, have showcased her global appeal and ability to step put of her comfort zone,” Baracus said.
Other names who featured in the top 20 included Mukesh (five), current Bollywood music queen Shreya Ghoshal (seven), Geeta Dutt (10), Sonu Nigam (14), Kumar Sanu (17) and Kavita Krishnamurthy (19).