[dropcap1 color=”blue”]W[/dropcap1]hereas Part 1 of this article consisted of the Playback Singers of Yesteryear for whom I felt like to be the Underrated individuals, who despite of all their virtues didn’t become a household name as the other counterparts.

I’ve now segregated those singers into Underrecognized category whose names just faded over the time and now exist in bollywood archives only. Though their songs are still popular with mature & serious listeners, but the name behind it still sulks for the due recognition and credit.  Since I don’t want to sound repetitive, for the terminologies like “Underrated and Underrecognized” that I’ve used, one can go through the introduction part of the previous post.

The probable reason of their temporal halt in Bollywood may also be attributed to the fact that many of them were established regional language singers, who either returned back to origin or eventually found that genre more suitable for themselves. Plus many starved & succumbed against the Big names or maybe the lack of further assignments or opportunities.


Uderrecognized Playback Singers of Yesteryear

  • Female

Jagjit Kaur

jagjit Kaur
Jagjit Kaur

Khayyam for his composition “Tum Apna Ranj O Gham” (Shagoon) once said to Jagjit Kaur (his wife too) that even though she sings no song after this, this particular number is going to immortalize her. And he mean it ! She is from the camp of those who had just few scores in films but revered as greatest voices of the era – reason – her poignant and sonorous vocal performance. Fast forward in the movies like “Heer Ranjha” “Bazaar” & “Umrao Jaan”, she lends her voice to yet another immensely popular numbers like “Nache Ang Ve”, “Dekh Lo Aaj Humko Jee Bhar Ke” & “Chale Aao Saiyan” & “Kahe Ko Byaahe Bides”. She made the best out of wedding songs in aforesaid movies.

Sudha Malhotra

sudha malhotra
Sudha Malhotra

While singing “Tum Mujhe Bhool Bhi Jao”, little did she know that the song will ironically materialize for the audiences who’d forget eminent singer like her by time. She began to sing at the tender age of 11 for films and turned out to be a promising female playback singer. Vocally inclined to Classical style, she had great versatility in her voice which iterated her acceptability factor by many index. “Tum Mujhe Bhool Bhi Jao” was an outcome of emergency where N. Dutta fell ill and Sudha had to compose it on his behalf. “Dekh Kabira Roya”, “Gauhar”, “Kaala Paani”, “Barsaat Ki Raat”, “Ab Dilli Door Nahin” and many others are the movies where one can hear her singing. She also had a stereotype associated with her that she did only Chuldren & Feminine songs. She latter silenced critiques to mute by her songs like “Ye Ishq Ishq Hai” & “Na Mein Dhan Chahoon”. An accomplished singer in all sense, but couldn’t manage to get into the seat of Bollywood Luminaries.

Kamal Barot

kamal barot
Kamal Barot

Mostly preferred in duets or triplets, her signature was the child like voice she had. Still, very competent and complimentary with the one with whom she used to sing. She was also a choice with music directors whenever there was any bubbly song to be recorded. Kamal with Mukesh shared an unusual chemistry in singing, for which they came up with couple of songs which turned out to be a great amalgamation of the voices which were literally opposite to each other. Her duets with Mukesh like “Na Jaane Chand Kaisa Hoga”, “Jab Se Hum Tum Baharon Mein” & “Hum Bhi Kho Gaye Hain” are the classic example of interplay of phrases between male-female voices. She was also paired up with Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhosle & Suman Kalyanpur with the popular scores like “Hasta Hua Noorani Chehra”, “Dadi Amma Dadi Amma” & “Garjat Barsat Sawan Aayo Re”.

Minoo Purushottam

minoo purushottam
Minoo Purushottam

Yet another extremely talented playback singer hailing from the land of Punjab. Introduced with the grace of Sahir Ludhiyanvi & Roshan, she debuted with her song in the movie “Tajmahal”. Under the grand influence of almost all the music directors of that time, she finds herself singing for all of them. With the patronage of veteran like Madan Mohan, she also picks up Ghazals and makes the most out of it latter in her lifetime. But one could hardly recall any solo by her. She mostly did in female-female duets over male-female on some occasions. “Na Na Na Re Na Na”, “Huzur-E-Wala”, “Unse Nazrein Mili Aur Hijaab Aa Gaya” &  “Mero Saiyan Gulabia Ke Phool” are the chartbusters of golden era that comes out from Minoo’s duet.




Sharda Rajan Iyengar, who surfaced up in 60s, in my opinion was a Siamese Twin of Kamal Barot when it comes to pitch & quality of the vocal chord, but made her own mark with solos she delivered. “Titli Udi” is the one which is the most memorable track by her. Raj Kapoor, who was a pioneer for fresh and new souls in b-town introduced her to the same. “Chale Jaana Jara Thehro”, “Dekho Mera Dil Machal Raha”, “Wo Pari Kahan Se Laon”, &  “Kaisee Padi Maar” earned her the due fame. She also has a distinction to be the first female singer to have released her private album called Sizzlers. Though she didn’t manage to reach that height as others did in singing, but latter on she graduated to become a Music Director and composed several songs for the movies. As a singer, she won Filmfare Awards as Best Female Playback Singer for “Baat Zara Hai Aapas Ki” and as a music director, her song “Achcha Hi Hua Dil Toot Gaya” got Md Rafi nominated for the same (Best Male Playback Singer). Sharda’s backing vocal in “Jab Bhi Ye Dil Udaas Hota Hai” with Md Rafi is considered to be in the top list of many.

Aarti Mukherjee

aarti mukherji
Aarti Mukherjee

“Shyam Teri Bansi” has mesmerized the audiences since it was first released way back in 7os (1975 to be more precise). Basically a Bengali playback singer, Aarti collected laurels from Hindi cinema too. Being a trained classical singer since childhood, she has fair number of melodious tracks to her credit. “Sara Mora Kajra”, “Do Panchi Do Tinke”, “Kabhi Kuch Pal Jeevan Ke” & “Main Wahi Darpan Wahi” speaks volumes of her for both duet & solo performances. She also bagged Filmfare Awards as Best Female Playback Singer in “Masoom” for “Do Naina Aur Ik Kahaani”, ironically still, remembered by only few.


Sulakshana Pandit

sulakshana pandit
Sulakshana Pandit

She comes all the way from a family of musically inclined talents. P N Pandit & Pt Jasraj happens to be her father and uncle respectievely, Jatin-Lalit are her brothers who have established themselves as a composing duo & Vijeta Pandit, her sister (and actress as well) too sang for few films. She became more famous as an actress but perhaps overshadowed her own image of being an able singer. Sulakshana, who debuted as a child singer also got a privilege to do with singing giants like Md Rafi, Kishore Kumar, Yesudas, Shailendra & several others. “Mana Teri Nazar”, “Mausam Mausam Lovely Mausam”, “Sapnon Ka Raja Koi” & “Suno Na Bhabhi” are some memorable deliveries by her.


  • Male

Subir Sen

subir sen
Subir Sen

When I first heard him in “Manzil Wahi Hai Pyar Ki”, I mistook him as Talat Mehmood for that typical resonance in his rendition (though majority is with the fact that his voice resembled Hemant Kumar, which may be true with other songs by him). Subir who was originally a Bengali Singer recorded few songs in Hindi also but couldn’t soar that high and ended up as a minor singer. His strong resemblance to the mightiest like Talat Mehmood & Hemant Da itself became a losing factor ultimately. Though he played minor inning, but all with cracking shots & deliveries ! He shone with few striking scores like “Main Rangeela Pyar Ka Raahi”, “Pyaar Mein Milna Sanam Hota Hai Taqdeer Se”, “Gar Tum Bura Na Maano”, “Dil Mera Ek Aas Ka Panchi”, “Humein Un Rahon Par Chalna Hai” & “Dil Leke Jaate Ho Kahan”. It was perhaps his limitation to sing wide range of numbers with quintessential tonal modulation that stood against his musical odyssey with Bollywood.

Jaspal Singh

jaspal singh
Jaspal Singh

He was more of a niche singer who was much preferred for vernacular vocals in few movies of 70s & 80s. He had his own distinct style of singing with frolicking & freewheeling. Though much of his information are not available elsewhere, but he lives by his voice to the reminiscence of many who swear by movies of Rajshree Productions for whom he became a favored singer. “Sawan Ko Aane Do”, “Shyam Teri Bansi”, “Jogi Waah”, “Sanchi Kahe Tore”, “Kaun Disha Mein”, “Mangal Bhavan” & “Geet Gaata Chal” are the examples by which he proved his mettle of niche singing. Jaspal Singh is also best remembered as a voice of Sachin (the Actor) as majority of songs were exclusively done for him.


On a concluding note, there may be some misses here which were rather deliberate or unknowingly depending upon the fact that few singer have had occasional flights in Hindi Cinema just for couple of songs, or maybe on invitation basis. For example, one can’t say Parveen Sultana didn’t make it big in Bollywood as it wasn’t her purpose at all. Ditto holds true for Vani Jayram, Chhaya Ganguly, Kabban Mirza and others. I’ve also excluded Sushma Shreshtha (Poornima), Ranu Mukherjee & Antara Chowdhury as I am yet to consider child vocalist as the fullfledged playback singers. I didn’t find much about Chandraani Mukherji, Haimanti Shukla, Archana, Pamela Chopra & Kanchan except couple of songs, hence I couldn’t have justified my writings. Last but not the least, I’ve also limited myself to the age what we affirm as Golden Era of Bollywood, so some names were also dropped because they seemed to be the precursors of 80s & 90s.


  1. very nice approach to show something extra….very impressive article….feels good to read the about the old singer from bollywood who have been forgotten … I didnt even knew of few old singers here …

  2. Very nice article on Playback Singers, but few of them like Yesudas, Bhupendra are not underrecognise. They had sang several songs which are quite popular yet…
    As well if I am not wrong Sudha Malhotra is the same who sung Ye Pyar Tha from Prem Rog 1982….

    • Inclusion of Yesudas & Bhupendra came in after much of thought and thinking. Honestly, I was initially hesitant to get them included in the list but moved ahead with it because of the fact that they deserved better place & popularity, if not 4ht out of Three Singing Stalwarts of Bollywood i.e. Mukesh, Rafi & Kishore.

      Yes, she is indeed Sudha Malhotra but normal listener may confuse it with Asha Bhosle – so similar !!!

  3. M/S Sudha Malhotra was/is an excellent playback singer of Hindi songs to say the least. She has surpassed all female singers of Bollywood of the past and present in her song Thum mujhe Bhoole….. and Kashti ka kamosh safar hai with kishore both in her sweetness of voice and expression. Her voice is most feminine and can express the deepest emotions of the mind and heart with great sweetness which can stir the soul of any man. Unfortunately she was not given the singing of songs with high quality Lyrics and tunes. I can only say that she was not only under recognized but also not given more oppertunity which she so richly deserves. My heartfelt best wishes to this lovely person with lovely voice wherever she might be now. If any one knows her e-mail address please inform and would be grateful

  4. My thanks to you Mr Ameet for your appreciation of my view and swift reaction. It appears that the lady (M/S Sudha Malhotra) might be a shy person,as many humans with refined qualities are. If somehow, some one who knows her very well can request and cajole her to sing some of the famous hindi melodies of the yesteryears, it would be a feast and delight for music lovers of all kinds. In fact her voice belongs to the world and perhaps these re-sung songs might become the best sellers! That would do justice for a person endowed with an enchanting voice and gift. What lead you have given me to contact her is not useful which I am sorry to say. What else can be done? How else can I reconcile?

  5. It was sheer delight to read this article.No doubt that these singers are/were talented but its always a tough job to compete with likes of lata,asha,geeta,rafi,kishore,manna dey etc.It’s their bad luck that these underrated singers were active in an era when the music industry was dominated by lata ,kishore etc.

    And also I think you forgot to mention RUNA LAILA who sang the song “tumhe ho na ho mujhko to inta yakin hai”.

    • Inclusion of Runa Laila would have meant the introduction of Salma Agha, Manhar Udas, Md Aziz, Shabbir Kumar, Anuradha Paudwal etc who were moreover the faces of 80s (as I wrote it in the concluding lines). Though ‘Tumhe Ho Na Ho’ and ‘Do Deewane Shahar Main’ dates back to late 70s (and my personal favorite too), but couldn’t mention because of the above reason.

  6. Dear Amit
    I agree that there is a faint elemental truth in what you are talking about competition with great contemporary singers of the day when Sudha and the other above less fortunate singers were on the singing stage. But the truth of the matter is that they have ignored picking up gold wantonly when they were well aware that it was lying in their way for reasons best known to them. But alas! Sudha is slowly slipping in to obscurity as her youthful days as a singer have faded. But the guilt would haunt those who know in their inner hearts their what they have done!

  7. i wanted to contact jaspal singh as i studied in the same school as he did, he was one yr senior and was a talented singer even in those days but never thought he would blossom into such a wonderful singer, couldnt find him in facebook, hope he is stil hale and hearty and singing. hope to meet him someday in near future

  8. While agreeing to your limit of 1970s for the singers, how on earth does Anuradha Paudwal deserve to be categorised as “Underrated / Unrecognised” ? ( as you mention in one of your replies here). And yes, didn’t she start in 1973 ?

    • Well, keeping the singers of 80-90s in any category is both tricky and confusing as they can never meet a consistent unanimity. Current generation of listeners wouldn’t like to hear them and those from yesteryear does have classical ears with limits set to Lata, Rafi and the likes.

      Anuradha Paudwal no doubt debuted in 1973, but as I said, she was more of a faces from 80s & early 90s. Picking one would have meant mentioning others too (as someone wrote about Runa Laila), so Anuradha Paudwal was there as an example rather than entrant to the list.

      And given that such choices or entries may be prejudiced or subjective, I wont rule out anyone’s comment removing/adding his singer of reverence !

  9. Sharda remained underrated only because most of her songs were not only removed from the films but unfortunately removed from the records as well like le ja le ja mera dil is not in the film nor in the records of en evening in paris. It was unfortunate for her as well as for her fans that she was made unheard by some persons in the industry. With all the due respect to Lataji and her power in the industry, many a talents were sent behind curtains untimely

    • Thanks for stopping by my blog with your valuable input ! Yes, there were more to be heard from artists above, but unfortunately it got limited to few scores only. Whatever maybe the reason, Bollywood (and we fans) had to settle with only those who managed to climb to the top. I agree for ‘survival of the fittest’ logic, but Bollywood witnessed other undercover reasons as well which took a toll over great pool of potential artists.

  10. Every time any article is written, Mangeshkar sisters are targeted. People forget that best is always preferred!. Mangeshkar sisters were best among whole lot of Male and female singers. Even today no one is near their talent.

  11. What about Manhar Udhas and Hemlata ? Hemlata started quite early as 1969 but by 1979 she was a full fledged vocalist. Manhar too got to sing in the movie ” Vishwas” of 1969 too early a start followed by “Abhiman” singing straight into the mike for Amitabh who portrayed a singer in the movie.
    Hemlata was a tough competitor to Lata herself, and if anyone could dare the legend, it was perhaps Hemlata, and she chose to remain non-competitive and sacrifice her singing career for the legend.
    Her sacrifice was worth mentioning here. As Vidya Sinha and Dipti Naval could not make it big in bollywood, so the same happened to their vocalists at the background, Hemlata and Chandrani Mukherjee became un-recognisable.


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