THE Story in THE Song Cornershop Brimful of Asha

Posted in: World Music by Arthur Chappell on February 16th, 2012 | 1 Comment

A celebration of Bollywood music and its most famous recording artist, Asha Bhosle.



A unique and beautiful song that almost sank without trace on its first appearance in 1997. It was the attention and remixing skills of Fat Boy Slim, (Norman Cook), that saw the song reissued the following year and get to the top of the charts. On original release the song barely made it to number 60.

Various versions exist in lengths ranging from four minutes and three seconds to seven minutes and thirty-five seconds.


The title refers to Asha Bhosle, a leading vocalist in the Bollywood film industry. Though rarely seen in the films, her songs are lip-synced by many on-screen performers. She has recorded a staggering 12,000 different titles, many available on vinyl and CD.

The song deals with the singer – narrator’s fascination and crush on the vocalist, though he admits in the lyrics that she exists only on his 45, (the single record) of her. She is his ‘bosom for a pillow’, an idle fantasy dream figure.

The song is saturated in real references to Bollywood film, and Indian / Anglo-politics. Many Bollywood people, studios and Indian radio stations are mentioned – the second half of the song is a list of them.

The band’s name, Cornershop, is a cheeky reference to the British notion that all corner shops are run by Indians and Pakistanis. The sense of a magical remote Bollywood is realistic. Many Indians now living in Europe don’t get to see the films, though there is now a growing import market for them on DVD. For many years, Indians in Britain would only see the films on bootleg videos or hear recorded highlights from the soundtracks, sometimes on 45’s.

The song celebrates Bollywood culture. The reference to rejection of government warnings refers to the sheer escapism of the Bollywood films themselves – the troubles of the World are abandoned for the duration of the films, and even the most serious, dramatic, political films have musical numbers.

The lyrics and video to Brimful Of Asha

Arthur Chappell


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