Best and Most Popular Bollywood Playback Singers
What Is a Playback Singer?
A playback singer is a singer whose singing is recorded earlier for use in movies. Playback singers record songs for soundtracks, and actors or actresses lip-sync the songs for cameras, while the actual singer does not appear on screen.
Music is an essential part of the Indian culture. Whether it‘s a wedding celebration, baby birth, a festival, or any kind of celebration or special occasion, it's not complete without music. Therefore, it's not surprising that India has given us some of the best playback singers in the history of cinema.
Here is a tribute to some of the legendary singers of Indian cinema, especially Hindi cinema. Playback songs are very important in Hindi cinema. Therefore, the playback singers have an important role in the success of a film. In fact, musicals are so beloved in India that the mere presence of music gives a film a better chance of being successful.
The singers below are some of my all time favorites, but there are many more worth mentioning.
Popular Playback Singers of Hindi Cinema
- Mohammed Rafi
- Lata Mangeshkar
- Geeta Dutt
- Kishore Kumar
- Asha Bhonsle
- Alka Yagnik
- Udit Narayan
- Sonu Nigam
- Sunidhi Chauhan
- Shreya Ghoshal
Classic Playback Singers
Born: December 24th, 1924, in Kotla Sultan Singh, Punjab, British India (present-day Punjab, India)
Mohammed Rafi was the most popular male playback singer. He has sung many beautiful songs in a variety of regional languages. He was truly unique in his ability to mold his voice according to the character he was singing for in the film. He has sung numerous hits songs. Whether he's singing romantic songs, ghazals, devotional songs, qawwallis, or anything else, Rafi is an absolute genius. Some people call him the pioneer of male playback singing.
Born: Hema Mangeshkar on September 28th, 1929 (age 90), in Indore, Indore State, Central India Agency, British India (present-day Madhya Pradesh, India)
Lata Mangeshkar is the most prominent, respected, and loved female playback singer. She is truly a living legend. She is also referred to as the Nightingale of India and her career in the music industry has spanned over seven decades.
She has sung in many regional languages and worked with nearly every single music composer in the Hindi film industry. Her songs touch your soul. This is why she was awarded India's highest civilian honor, The Bharat Ratna.
Born: Mukesh Chand Mathur on July 22nd, 1923, in Delhi, British India (present-day Delhi, India)
Mukesh is another playback singer from the golden era of Hindi cinema. He had a truly unique voice. His sad songs manage to stir up the audience's emotions like no one else. Some of his songs are truly immortal. Over the course of his career, Mukesh has won many national awards.
Born: Geeta Ghosh Roy Chowdhuri on November 23rd, 1930, in Idilpur, Madaripur Subdivision, Bengal Presidency, British India (present-day Shariatpur District, Dhaka Division, Bangladesh)
Geeta Dutt is another legendary playback singer. She was known for her youthful and melodious voice. She sung some of the most memorable songs from Bollywood's golden era. Young people were crazy about her Bengali songs. These romantic tunes struck a chord with audiences all across india. She has sung for some great Bengali music composers, such as Hemant Kumar, Nachiketa Ghosh, S.D.Burman, and others. She died young, but her songs are still favorites among fans of the Hindi film industry.
Born: Abhas Kumar Ganguly on August 4th, 1929, in Khandwa, Central Provinces, British India (present-day Madhya Pradesh, India)
Kishore Kumar is loved by both old and new generations of music lovers. He was an actor, singer, lyricist, director, and writer all in one. He has sung in more than ten Indian regional languages. Some music critics think that he is one of the most versatile singers of all time. His songs had the power to make you sad, happy, or enthusiastic. His range was truly incredible. In recognition of his talent, he was awarded the Filmfare award many times. He's one of the most successful playback singers of all time.
Born: Asha Mangeshkar on September 8th, 1933 (age 86), in Goar, Sangli, Sangli State, Bombay Presidency, British India (present-day Maharashtra, India)
Asha Bhonsle is renowned for her versatile singing. Age has certainly not dulled her enthusiasm for singing. She's still popular today—even after a six decades of performing! Her range is incredible. She always managed to hit every note perfectly—even though she sung in more than twenty languages!
She has won many national and International awards and holds the "Guinness book of World Records" record for being the most recorded artist in music history.
Contemporary Playback Singers
Born: March 20th, 1966 (age 54), in Kolkata, West Bengal, India
Blessed with a sweet voice, Alka is trained in classical music. Her technique is truly incredible. She haolds the record for most Filmfare awards won. She has also been awarded other national award and international awards.
Over a career spanning more than three decades, she has sung for almost all of the most prominent music composers in Bollywood. Twenty of her tracks feature in BBC's "Top 40 Bollywood Soundtracks of All Time."
Born: Udit Narayan Jha on December 1st, 1955 (age 64), in Baisi, Supaul district, Bihar, India
Udit Narayan is a contemporary male playback singer. He's originally from Nepal, but found success when he entered the music industry in India. He is versatile, singing across many different genres, including pop, devotional, folk, ghazal, etc.
With more than twenty five thousand songs, in various languages, he has sung for more than 50 music composers. He has an impressive number of musical hits and awards in various languages other than Hindi.
Born: July 30th, 1973 (age 46), in Faridabad, Haryana, India
Since his voice resembled the legendary Mohammed Rafi, it took Sonu Nigam some time to establish himself in the Hindi film industry. But later, he managed to create a his own unique distinct style of singing, which brought him incredible success in the industry. He's a major inspiration to today's young singers.
Born: Nidhi Chauhan on August 14th, 1983 (age 36), in New Delhi, India
Many critics consider Sunidhi Chauhan the number one female playback singer today. Time and again she has proven herself to be a talented and versatile singer. Her live performances are truly amazing. Like her predecessors, she has also sung in many Indian languages and with many of India's most prominent music directors.
Born: March 12th, 1984 (age 36), in Berhampore, Murshidabad district, West Bengal, India
Shreya Ghoshal is one of today's most famous playback singers. A Bengali by birth, she sings her award-winning songs in both Bengali and Hindi. She's prolific, working with nearly all of today's most prominent music directors.
After winning a national award for her first film, Devdas, she went on to become a successful and popular singer. Her music has won her many awards and international honors. She performs her live shows to both Indian and international audiences.
Born: September 30th, 1972 (age 47), in Khandwa, Madhya Pradesh, India
Shaan is one of the most popular playback singers in Bollywood. He is versatile, singing songs in many different genres, including pop songs, ghazals, hip-hop songs, rock songs, etc. He has sung songs in many languages, including Kannada, Bengali, Punjabi, Nepali, English, Hindi, Oriya, Malayalam, and Marathi. He has been given many titles, such as, "Golden Voice of India" and "Voice of youth.' and has won many Filmfare awards as well.
Highest Paid Bollywood Playback Singers
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© 2014 Chitrangada Sharan