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Why Asha set up own home

- singer did not want to be at anyone’s mercy
(From left) Siblings Meena Mangeshkar, Usha, Lata, Asha Bhonsle and Hridaynath perform together at an event. File picture

Mumbai, Oct. 8: Asha Bhosle’s daughter Varsha, a columnist driven to depression following the failure of her marriage, wrote widely and with deep admiration about her mother’s courageous struggle after the singer walked out on her husband 52 years ago.

Varsha, who was just two when her parents’ marriage broke up, committed suicide today at the home she shared with her mother.

Asha had eloped with elder sister Lata Mangeshkar’s 31-year-old personal secretary, Ganpatrao Bhosle, when she was 16. They appeared to be mismatched and the marriage failed.

Ganpatrao allegedly abused his young wife physically and mentally, while his family is said to have ill-treated her.

Asha was already a budding singer, and Ganpatrao apparently lived off her earnings while pushing her every day to work harder and longer.

When she became pregnant a third time in 1960, Asha, apparently fed up of physical torture and her husband’s suspicious nature, walked out of her home to give her children a better life.

Asha stayed at her parents’ home for a while before beginning a journey to carve out her own niche.

In a column for a portal, Varsha recently wrote: “I asked her, ‘Aai, you had the security of the roof of your own mother, your sisters — what was the big rush to set up your own house? Instead, couldn’t you have given us more time?’

“Without missing a beat, she replied, ‘Never again did I want to be at the mercy of anyone else. It would have been equally harmful for you three. You had to grow up in your own home, and with the freedom I alone could sanction.’ We did, we did.”

Asha went on to marry music director R.D. Burman, six years her junior, in 1980 but the couple did not have children. They later became estranged. RD died in 1994.

Asha’s eldest son Hemant, apparently named after singer Hemanta Mukhopadhyay who was like an elder brother to Asha, spent most of his early years as a pilot with Air India before quitting to have a brief career as a music director.

After divorcing his first wife, he married his airline colleague Sajideh, an airhostess. The couple had a Hindu marriage in 1985. In 2010, Sajideh aka Rama Bhosle sought divorce from Hemant, accusing him of physical and mental torture.

Chintu, Hemant’s son from his first wife, is a part-time singer and was member of the 1990s band, Band of Boyz.

Asha’s youngest son Anand, a management graduate, is his mother’s business manager. Asha, an avid cook, runs a restaurant business in London, Dubai and Bangkok.