On Alka Yagnik’s birthday, we look at singers who ruled the decade before the advent of reality singing shows and how a paradigm shift in Bollywood’s priorities changed the equation forever.
Kavita Krishnamurthy: She created magic by working with most leading music composers of her time – Anand-Milind, A. R. Rahman, Nadeem-Shravan and Jatin Lalit, Viju Shah and of course with R. D. Burman in 1942: A Love Story.
Popular songs: Aaj Main Upar Aasman Neeche, Mera Piya Ghar Aaya, Pyaar Hua Chupke Se, Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam and many more
Anuradha Paudwal: If Alka Yagnik ruled the roost in the 90s, Paudwal gave her tough competition. Her ‘Dhak Dhak’ song from ‘Beta’ (1992) remains an all-time favourite. Following a few controversies, she shifted focus to devotional songs. Paudwal gave playback singing a second shot a few years late, but couldn’t win back her audience.
Popular songs: Nazar Ke Saamne, Dil Hai Ke Manta Nahi, Chaha Hai Tujhko, Tu Pyar Hai Kisi Aur Ka, Pyar Kiya Toh Nibhana, Adayein Bhi Hai Mohabbat Bhi Hai, Maiyya Yashoda
Alka Yagnik: Unarguably, the most successful female playback singer of the 90s, there was a time when Yagnik took home the awards at all major functions year after year.
Popular songs: Dekha Hai Pehli Baar, Aisi Deewangi, Waada Raha Sanam, Choli Ke Peeche, Baazigar O Baazigar, Tip Tip Barsa Paani, Poocho Zara Poocho Mujhe Kya Hua Hain, Bahon Ke Darmiyan
Krishnakumar Kunnath (KK): His debut album Pal (1999) is an all-time classic, and he continues to belt out a few hits even now, but for the kind of talent that KK possesses, Bollywood doesn’t offer him enough.
Popular songs: Yaaro Dosti Badi Hi Haseen Hain, Chhod Aaye Hum Who Galiyan, Tadap Tadap Ke Iss Dil Se, Awarapan Banjarapan, Aankhon Mein Teri Ajab Si, Dus Bahane Kar Ke Le Gaya Dil
Lucky Ali: Son of late comedian Mehmood, he stormed onto the pop scene with his debut album ‘Sunoh’ (1996), which is still considered among the best in the genre. The song Sanam from the album remains fresh even today. He made it big in playback singing as well with Kaho Naa… Pyaar Hai (2000) before stepping away from the competition.
Popular songs: Anjaani Raahon Mein Tu Kya, Teri Yaadein, Dekha Hai Aise, Kabhi Aisa Lagta Hai, Na Tum Jaano Na Hum, Ek Pal Ka Jeena
Sadhana Sargam: The National Award-winning singer has been more popular down south in recent years. At her peak in Bollywood, she was among the most sought after female playbacks.
Popular songs: Humne Ghar Chhoda Hai, Jab Koi Baat Bigad Jaaye, Pehla Nasha, Teri Umeed Tera Intezar Karte Hain, Subah Se Lekar Shaam Tak, Saawan Barse Tarse Dil, Chupke Se
Hema Sardesai: She was in top form from the mid-’90s and early 2000s, working with leading composers like Anu Malik, A. R. Rahman, Rajesh Roshan and Nadeem-Shravan.
Popular songs: Awaara Bhavaren, Ishq Chandi Hai Ishq Sona Hain, Sona Sona Ye Na Hona, Chali Chali Phir Chali Chali and Badal Pe Paon Hai
Sapna Mukherjee: Like most other names of the list, she also worked with leading composers of the ’90s like Nadeem-Shravan, Jatin Lalit, Anand-Milind, Rajesh Roshan and Anu Malik. The Tirchi Topi Wale number in Tridev (1989) made her a name to reckon with.
Popular songs: Tera Saath Hai Kitna Pyara, Khud Ko Kya Samajhta Hai, Tere Ishq Mein Nachenge, Dil Le Gayi Teri Bindiya, Sundara Sundara, Pyaar Pyaar Karte Karte and Love Rap
Raageshwari: One of the prominent female pop singers, Raageshwari was having a good run when she was diagnosed with Bell’s palsy in 2000. She made a comeback in 2006, but could not regain her popularity.
Popular songs: Ta Ta Ra Ri Ra Ra (album Duniya), Pyaar Ka Rang (album Pyaar Ka Rang), Y2K: Saal Do Hazaar (album Y2K: Saal Do Hazaar)
Suneeta Rao: Another product of the pop generation, Rao is known as the Paree singer more than two decades after her song Paree Hoon Main took the nation by storm. She continued to find work after that, but could not sustain her popularity.
Vinod Rathod: In recent times, the only work of note to his credit is singing the title track of the two Munnabhai films. Till a decade and a half back though he was much in demand for his soothing voice.
Popular songs: Romeo Naam Mera Chori Hain Kaam Mera, Aisi Deewangi Dekhi Nahi Kahi, Koi Na Koi Chahiye Pyar Karne Wala, Nayak Nahin Khalnayak Hoon Main, Ae Mere Humsafar, Kitabein Bahut Si, Chupana Bhi Nahin Aata.