Abke Baras Bhej Bhaiya Ko Babul
Singer: Asha Bhosle
Composer: S.D. Burman
Over the years plenty of tributes complementing Asha Bhosle's savvy, sizzling, sensuous singing image have been showered by all and sundry. No doubt that frothy singing has been Asha’s strong point and a selling one in the present music market, but thanks to that many tend to overlook her tremendous ability to pour her heart out in emotional songs.
1963 film Bandini’s song Ab Ke Baras Bhej Bhaiya Ko Babul is perhaps the best example of Asha’s superb rendition of sentimental songs. It is also a painful reminder of a dark chapter in her checkered personal life.
At the age of fourteen, Asha ran away from her family to marry a neighboring rationing inspector. Those were conservative times and her family – the redoubtable Mangeshkar family- led by her strict and stoic mother Maai was so shocked and angered by this impetuous action that they totally cut off the relations with this errant girl.
This family stand-off lasted more than a decade. The marriage too turned sour and Asha was practically left on her own, fending for survival. Singing was the only vocation and she pursued that with fervour, singing any song that came her way. Composers like O.P.Nayyar and Sachin Dev Burman were among the first ones to recognize her vocal ability and as the ‘50s came to their end, Asha had slowly become a top notch singer capable of challenging the might of anyone.
When S.D.Burman composed this touching folksy tune for Shailendra’s heart-rending lyrics portraying emotions of a married young woman, remembering the long-lost father’s loving place and pining for her brother to come and fetch her home, Asha wasn’t able to do justice to the song in the initial rehearsals. Then to get her into the mental frame of the song, Sachinda suggested her to remember her own brother, her own family. As the singer broke down remembering her lost family, Sachinda ordered the take for the song. It has become an immortal piece of emotional and expressive singing.
Listen how the sense of loss of innocent childhood experienced by the young bride comes through the metaphoric lyrics – Bairan Jawaani Ne Chheene Khilone Aur Meri Gudiya Churayi and her heart-breaking realization of becoming a stranger to her own family after the marriage comes forth in the next line -Babul Thii Main Tere Naazon Ki Paali Phir Kyun Huyi Main Parayi. Asha is simply brilliant in this rendition and no doubt, telling her own story through those words.
Soon afterwards, Asha’s family reconciled with her, bringing the estranged siblings together after years. Four decades have passed since that momentous recording, still every time one listens to that song it brings a lump in the throat with its heartfelt emotions. It is a memorable song from a memorable artist- an artist for all seasons.