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The Most Popular Playback Singers of Hindi Cinema : My Top Favourites!

Updated on October 5, 2017
ChitrangadaSharan profile image

Chitrangada loves the richness of Indian art,culture and traditions. As a writer she wants to spread information to the readers, about India

The melodious Bollywood singers-My list of top favourites
The melodious Bollywood singers-My list of top favourites | Source

The Playback Singers Of Hindi Film Songs!

© Chitrangada Sharan Nov. 2014

All Rights Reserved.

  • Music and dance is an essential part of Indian culture. Whether it is a wedding, baby birth, festivals or any kind of celebration---it cannot be complete without a song meant for that occasion.
  • Cinema is a reflection of society and influenced by it.
  • Therefore you can listen to melodious songs and dances almost in every Indian movie, because people love it.
  • The film industry has given many wonderful singers over the years--their voices melodious and their songs immortal.
  • So much so that whenever you are in a pleasant mood or a sad mood, you can relate to a song by these singers.
  • Some of them are no more with us but the songs they have sung does not even make us feel that they are not there.
  • Here is a tribute to some of the legendary singers of Indian cinema, especially Hindi cinema.

Who 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.

Muhammad Rafi
Muhammad Rafi | Source

Mohammed Rafi:

The most popular male playback singer of Hindi cinema, who has sung in many other regional languages of India as well is Mohammed Rafi.

His ability to mold his voice according to the character and the actor in the film was his uniqueness.

He has given numerous hits, whether it is romantic, ghazals, devotional, qawwallis and many other.

He can be called the pioneer of male playback singing.

Lata Mangeshkar
Lata Mangeshkar | Source

Lata Mangeshkar:

Lata Mangeshkar is the most prominent, respected and loved, female playback singer and is a living legend.

She is also referred to as the Nightingale of India and her career in music industry is of over 7 decades.

She has sung many songs in different regional languages and perhaps for every single music composer available in the film industry, since its inception.

Her songs are soul touching and she has the distinction of receiving the highest civilian honor of India, 'The Bharat Ratna.'

Mukesh
Mukesh | Source

Mukesh:

Mukesh is another playback singer from the golden era of Hindi cinema, who had a unique voice.

His sad songs stir up emotions like no other.

He has given some immortal songs, which touches your heart.

His voice was identified with Raj Kapoor, the legendary actor, producer and director.

Mukesh won many awards, including National award.

Geeta Dutt
Geeta Dutt | Source

Geeta Dutt:

Geeta Dutt is another legendary singer, who had a youthful and melodious voice.

She has sung some memorable songs in the golden era.

Her songs in Bengali were a craze among the youth, for its romantic rendition.

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 numbers are still a favorite among many music lovers.


Kishore Kumar
Kishore Kumar | Source

Kishore Kumar:

Kishore Kumar is such playback singer, who is loved by both old and new generations of music lovers.

He was an actor, singer, lyricist, director, writer all combined and has sung in more than ten Indian regional languages.

He can be called the most versatile singer of all times, who could make you sad, happy, enthusiastic by his songs.

He has been awarded the Filmfare award many times and is perhaps the most successful male playback singer.


Asha Bhosle
Asha Bhosle | Source

Asha Bhonsle:

Asha Bhonsle is a female playback singer, who is renowned for her versatile singing. Age has made no difference in her enthusiasm for singing.

She is most popular even today after 6 decades of her career.

She has sung in more than twenty other languages and is Internationally acclaimed as well.

Her voice range is incredible and she is unmatched, whether it is pop music or Indian classical.

She has won many national and International awards and holds the record of being the most recorded artist in music history by "Guinness book of World Records"

Alka Yagnik
Alka Yagnik | Source

Some Contemporary Singers---Alka Yagnik:

Alka Yagnik is a more recent and noted playback singer of Indian cinema. Blessed with a sweet voice, she is trained in classical music.

She has a record number of Filmfare awards and has also been awarded with National award and other awards.

She has sung for almost all prominent music composers of her carrier spanning over three decades.

Twenty of her tracks feature in BBC's "Top 40 Bollywood Soundtracks of all time"

Via Pixaby free images
Via Pixaby free images | Source

Udit Narayan:

Udit Narayan is a contemporary male playback singer, who is originally from Nepal but has an immense success story in Indian cinema playback singing.

He is versatile and has sung in different types of compositions, including romantic, pop music, devotional, folk, ghazals etc.

With more than twenty five thousand songs, in various languages, he has sung for fifty plus music composers.

He has an impressive number of musical hits and awards in various other languages besides Hindi.

Via Pixaby free images
Via Pixaby free images | Source

Sonu Nigam:

Sonu Nigam is a prominent male playback singer of Hindi cinema today.

It took him some time to establish himself since his voice resembled the legendary Mohammed Rafi.

But later on he created a distinct style of singing and gave some very melodious compositions, which are huge hits.

He is an inspiration to young singers and he has some very popular and all time favorite private albums too, to his credit.


Sunidhi Chauhan
Sunidhi Chauhan | Source

Sunidhi Chauhan:

Sunidhi Chauhan may be called number one female playback of today.

Time and again she has proved her versatile singing talent and besides she is a great live performer on stage as well.

Like her predecessors she has also sung in many Indian languages and with all prominent music directors.


Via Pixaby free images
Via Pixaby free images | Source

Shreya Ghoshal:

Shreya Ghoshal is a favourite female playback singer of today, who was discovered on a music talent show on Television.

A Bengali by birth, she has sung award winning songs in Bengali and Hindi and has worked with all prominent music directors.

She went on to become a successful and popular singer, after winning National award for her very first film, 'Devdas.'

She has received many awards after that and also International honors. She has performed in 'live' concerts to national and International audiences.


Shaan
Shaan | Source

Shaan:

Shaan is one of the most popular voices for romantic and melodious songs.

He is versatile and has sung songs in different genres like pop, sad songs, patriotic, ghazals, hip-hop, rock etc.

He has sung songs in many regional languages of India such as, Kannada, Bengali, Punjabi, Nepali, English, Hindi, Oriya, Malayalam, and Marathi.

He has been awarded with titles like, "Golden Voice of India" and "Voice of youth.' and has won many Filmfare awards as well.

To Conclude:

Playback singer is very important to a song in Hindi cinema, because film music is influenced by society and its culture. Rather it is a reflection of society.

And music and dance is an essential part of Indian culture.

Male or female playback singers infuse soul into a song and their emotions reach out to the audience at large when they sing.

A singer who can stir up dormant human emotions, whether sad or happy, by his or her magical voice is the ultimate successful playback singer.

The above mentioned are just some of my all time favorites. But there are many worth mentioning.

© Chitrangada Sharan 13th Nov. 2014,

All Rights Reeserved.


Have you heard about these music legends?

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Some of them you might not find in my list but they are the highest paid contemporary Bollywood playback singers. Source: YouTube

© 2014 Chitrangada Sharan

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    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image
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      Chitrangada Sharan 23 months ago from New Delhi, India

      Thank you Linda, for reading and commenting on this hub!

      Glad you liked the hub!

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 23 months ago from Orlando, FL

      Fabulous tribute to your favorite singers! :)

    • profile image

      R P Sinha 2 years ago

      After posting an earlier comment, I noticed that the title of the article is 'My Top Favourite...' and also that you are a general writer and not a musicologist. I cannot force you to change your favourites. However the point made in my comments remains valid.

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image
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      Chitrangada Sharan 2 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Thank you R P Sinha ji, for your comments!

      Yes you are right in mentioning K.L.Saigal. I admire him also , but this list was written in view of the general popular singers, with whom everyone, young and the not so young can relate to.

      There are many more wonderful singers in the industry, about whom I would love to write. But they can not be covered in one single article.

      Thanks for your feedback!

    • profile image

      R P Sinha 2 years ago

      How can you forget K L Saigal, the grandfather of all film singers who is still held in awe ?

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image
      Author

      Chitrangada Sharan 2 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Thank you Sunilkunnothji, for your kind visit and appreciation of this hub!

      I am glad you liked it. I love Indian music and these singers have given some wonderful memorable songs. Their magical effect will always remain.

      Thanks for your votes and share!

    • sunilkunnoth2012 profile image

      Sunil Kumar Kunnoth 2 years ago from Calicut (Kozhikode, South India)

      Very interesting and nostalgic. Really enjoyed reading your post since the topic is of my great passion for me personally. Voted up and shared.

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image
      Author

      Chitrangada Sharan 3 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Thank you aviannovice, for reading and appreciating!

      All of them are great legends in the field of music. Music is an integral part of Indian culture.

      Glad you liked this hub!

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      This is wonderful material that taught me a lot. I heard the name Kishore KJumar, but had no idea who he was until now.

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image
      Author

      Chitrangada Sharan 3 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Thank you Susan Recipes, for your visit and support!

      Glad to know they are your favorites too!

    • Susan Recipes profile image

      Susan 3 years ago from India

      All of them are my favorite and I have a huge collection of their wonderful golden songs.

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image
      Author

      Chitrangada Sharan 3 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Thank you Nell Rose, for your kind visit!

      Playback singing is an essential part of Indian cinema, as music and dance is an important part of Indian culture. And cinema is a reflection of society, people relate with it.

      Thanks and have a good day!

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image
      Author

      Chitrangada Sharan 3 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Thank you manatita44, for coming back!

      I admire your knowledge about India. Thanks again!

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image
      Author

      Chitrangada Sharan 3 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Thank you Dilip Chanraji, for your kind visit and positive comments!

      I am glad you liked this hub and we all love these great musical artists.

      Thanks!

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 3 years ago from England

      Hi, I was aware that some singers were in the background so to speak, but never realised that they were called playback singers, interesting hub, and I learned something new! thanks, nell

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 3 years ago from london

      Yes. The school of Bannya, Shura Dhara, run for young singers of Rabindranath's music, etc. We have performed with some of them in India. I was not there, but some members of our Centres were. Super excellent singers. Thanks for the bit on the Hindi alphabet.

    • dilipchandra12 profile image

      Dilip Chandra 3 years ago from India

      So nice to see this list, i have all their songs - most i must say, in my collection. Good read this is, thank you friend.

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image
      Author

      Chitrangada Sharan 3 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Thank you Eiddwen, for your kind visit and appreciation!

      Glad you liked it!

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image
      Author

      Chitrangada Sharan 3 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Thank you Jodah, for your kind visit and comments!

      Playback singing is an integral part of Indian cinema and these singers are most respected celebrities.

      Thanks again!

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image
      Author

      Chitrangada Sharan 3 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Thank you Harishprasadji, for your visit and appreciation!

      Glad you liked this effort and I have noted your request of writing a hub about great Indian male actors in future.

      Thanks again for your support!

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 3 years ago from Wales

      A great hub; very well presented and so interesting. Eddy.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 3 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Very interesting Chitrangada. I have also never heard of playback singers so you have enlightened me. Thank you for sharing about these talented performers.

    • Harishprasad profile image

      Harish Mamgain 3 years ago from India

      Hindi film songs are like part of our life. It happens sometimes that we are in a sombre or cheerful mood, and a song relevant to that mood comes to our lips. At other times, a same song flashes in the minds of two guys at a moment, and they both start singing that song. These songs have such a great impact on our minds. ChitrangdaSharan, I love this hub. You have mentioned such admirable, lovable and very popular. singers. Voted up. PS: I still wait for a hub on great male actors of Hindi Cinema. Looking forward to read that as well.

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image
      Author

      Chitrangada Sharan 3 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Thank you Nithya, for your visit and appreciation!

      Lata Mangeshkar and Mohammed Rafi are all time favorites. The new singers you mentioned do lot of experiments and give live performances as well. I have mentioned few of them, but I am sure you must have enjoyed, the singing of other newcomers as well.

      Thanks again for voting up!

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image
      Author

      Chitrangada Sharan 3 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Thank you Ericdierker, for reading the hub and appreciating it!

      I am glad to see your interest and you can get to listen to some of the songs by these wonderful singers on You tube.

      Thanks!

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image
      Author

      Chitrangada Sharan 3 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Thank you manatita44, for your wonderful feedback!

      Glad to learn that you are already familiar with these wonderful vocalists.

      You are right Asha Bhonsle is the younger sister of Lata Mangeshkar.

      Bhonsle has an 'ang matra' in it as per Hindi alphabet; or you can say half 'n' and that is why it has such spelling.

      Ashaji is a versatile singer and has sung in many genres. Her voice has so much range and variation that its difficult to copy her even by good singers.

      Lataji has a divine kind of voice and both sisters are awesome and an institution in itself.

      Yes, I do understand Bengali and can speak a little bit as well. We used to sing Rabindra Sangeet in our school days.

      I have mentioned few singers in this hub but there are so many of them, trained in classical music or even otherwise.

      Thanks for your interest in this hub! Om Shanti!

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image
      Author

      Chitrangada Sharan 3 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Thank you billybuc, for your visit and comments!

      Playback singing is popular in India, because people love music in films. In fact the music of the film is released before the film is released.

      Thanks for your interest on this topic!

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image
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      Chitrangada Sharan 3 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Thank you Devika, for your visit and support!

      Your comments are much appreciated.

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 3 years ago from Dubai

      Great hub and fantastic singers show cased. I love Lata Mangeshkar and Mohammed Rafi. Shreya Ghosal has the voice of an angel and Sunidhi Chauhan has a great range and is more powerful. It is a treat to listen to all of their songs. Great write, voted up.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 3 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Very interesting and brand new to me, I would like to listen to some so I get the sound. Thanks

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 3 years ago from london

      Dear Chitrangada.

      Another beautiful and necessary one. Done so well! I know most of them. My favourites! I must be old (smile).

      Actually Lata I followed for many years! A total genius and one sent by God. Correct me here, but I believe Asha Bhosle (My spelling is different from yours) was said to be Lata's younger sister, and better, by some.

      Mohammed Rafi is one of my favourites on devotionals. I also liked Raj and Shashi Kapoor. These days I listen to Snatam Kaur and another Menaka Kaur, both Sikhs.

      Do you speak Bengali? I know over a 1000 songs, and Sri Chinmoy, my Guru, wrote over 24, 000 songs with about 8000 in English. The rest are in Bengali.

      Lots of love to you and keep bringing us in the West India's ageless and timeless message of beauty and and of Love. Om Shanti!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Oddly I have never heard of a playback singer. Very interesting read. Thanks for teaching me something.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 3 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      I enjoyed the enlightening read. Going down memory lane was a great idea.