Alka Yagnik

Last updated

Alka Yagnik
Born (1966-03-20) 20 March 1966 (age 55) [1]
Occupation Playback singer
Neeraj Kapoor
(m. 1989)
Musical career
Genres Bollywood and regional filmi playback singing
Years active1980–present

Alka Yagnik Kapoor (born 20 March 1966) is an Indian playback singer. She is noted in Indian cinema for a career spanning over four decades. [2] [3] She is a record seven-time winner from a record of 36 nominations of the Filmfare Award for Best Female Playback Singer, a two-time recipient of the National Film Award [4] as well as several other music awards and honours listed below. Further, as many as twenty of her tracks feature in BBC's "Top 40 Bollywood Soundtracks of all time" review. [5] She is one of the most prolific female playback singers, and has sung a large number of female solos in her Bollywood career. [6] She is ranked No. 1 in the YouTube's Music Charts & Insights list of top global artists as of 25 March 2021. She has been on the chart for 236 weeks with 400 million views. [7]


Early life

Yagnik was born in Kolkata on 20 March 1966 to a Gujarati family. [1] Her father's name is Dharmendra Shankar. [8] [9] Her mother Shubha was a singer of Indian classical music. In 1972 at age six, she started singing for Akashvani (All India Radio), Calcutta. [10] [1] At age 10, her mother brought her to Mumbai as a child singer. She was advised to wait until her voice matured, but her mother remained determined. On a subsequent visit, Yagnik got a letter of introduction to Raj Kapoor from his Kolkata distributor. Kapoor heard the girl and sent her with a letter to noted music director Laxmikant. Impressed, Laxmikant gave her two alternatives – an immediate start as a dubbing artist or a later break as a singer; Shubha chose the latter for her daughter. [2] [11] Yagnik mentioned that she was a bright student but didn't like studies. [8]


A classically trained Yagnik began singing bhajans for Akashvani (All India Radio), Calcutta [10] at the age of six. Her first song was for the film Payal Ki Jhankaar in (1980). This was followed by Laawaris (1981) with the song "Mere Angane Mein", followed by the film Hamari Bahu Alka (1982). She got her big break with the song "Ek Do Teen" from the film Tezaab (1988). She has said that she had a high fever on the day she recorded "Ek Do Teen". The song won her the first out of seven Filmfare Award for Best Female Playback Singer. [12] Besides Hindi, she has sung in more than twenty languages [13] including Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Malayalam, Marathi, Odia, Punjabi, Tamil and Telugu except Kannada. [14] She has also performed in live concerts around the world. In an interview with Mid Day, Yagnik told that she records five songs daily during her time. [15] During her start of career in the 80s, her biggest rivals were Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhosle. [16]

In 1993, Yagnik sang a seductive song "Choli Ke Peeche Kya Hai" with Ila Arun. The song created controversy because of the lyrics written by Anand Bakshi. She got a second Filmfare award for the song, which she shared with Ila Arun. [17]

In 1994, she sang another seductive song "Din Mein Leti Hai" from the film Amanaat with co-singer Kumar Sanu and Ila Arun, composed by Bappi Lahiri and lyrics by Anwar Sagar. [18] Besides the duet version, she also sang the female version of the song with Ila Arun. [19] She has performed several shows with Kalyanji-Anandji and Laxmikant-Pyarelal. [15]

Throughout the 90s Yagnik along with Kavita Krishnamurthy and Poornima were singing most of the songs for heroines. [20]

Yagnik worked on private albums like "Tum Yaad Aaye" in 1997 in close collaboration with award-winning lyricist Javed Akhtar and composer Raju Singh, "Tum Aaye" in 2002 with Javed Akhtar and singer Hariharan and "Shairana" in 2003 with Javed Akhtar and singer-composer Shankar Mahadevan. She has also performed the Hanuman Chalisa and various devotional songs. Her song "Chamma Chamma" from China Gate was featured in the song "Hindi Sad Diamonds" from the soundtrack of the film Moulin Rouge! . [21]

In 2012 she along with Sonu Nigam sang a song 'Shiksha Ka Suraj' as part of the National Literacy Mission of India for which she was felicitated by Union Minister For Human Resource Development Kapil Sibal. [22] [23] Also in 2012, on the occasion of 100 years of Hindi Cinema, her song "Taal Se Taal Mila" from the movie Taal was voted as the best song of the century in a poll conducted by DesiMartini, Hindustan Times and Fever 104. [24] Also, her song "Choli Ke Peeche" from the movie Khalnayak was voted as the hottest song of the century in a poll conducted by Sanona. [25]

Yagnik has also been involved in various projects to empower girls. [26] In 2014, Yagnik again teamed up with Sonu Nigam to sing the song "Phool Khil Jayenge" for child health awareness. [27] She also sang a song titled "Maine Li Jo Angdai" for the album Women's Day Special: Spreading Melodies Everywhere. It was composed by Farid Sabri, Harish Chauhan, and Gurudatt Sahil; and penned by Sudhakar Sharma.

In 2015, she sung 'Agar Tum Saath Ho' for which she informed that the music director of the song, A.R. Rahman wasn't present in the studio but he was giving instructions on Skype video call and after giving some instructions, he gave power to Yagnik to do any of own style of singing in 'Agar Tum Saath Ho' song. [28]

Yagnik shares the title for the greatest number of Filmfare Awards with Asha Bhosle (seven) by a female playback singer. [29] She has sung 2,486 Hindi songs in 1,114 films. She is the fifth most prolific Bollywood singer of all time after Asha Bhosle (7886 songs), Mohammed Rafi (7405 songs), [30] Lata Mangeshkar (5596 songs) and Kishore Kumar (2,707 songs). [31] She is the third topmost female playback singer after Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhonsle who has sung the maximum number of female solos in her Bollywood career. [6]


Yagnik credits her mother as her first guru, who began singing at the age of four. [12] Besides her mother, Alka learned singing from Kalyanji-Anandji and Laxmikant–Pyarelal. [32] Although, she has sung many genres of songs but according to Alka, her voice suits the romantic genre best. [33] Alka has acknowledged veteran singer Lata Mangeshkar as her inspiration, [33] with whom Alka says audiences compare her. [17] She has sung romantic, sad, peppy, seductive and item number songs. [34] [19]

Yagnik has sung more than 20,000 songs in over 1,000 films. [17] Most of her duets were with Kumar Sanu, followed by Udit Narayan and Sonu Nigam. [35] She sang maximum numbers of romantic songs with Kumar Sanu and flamboyant numbers of songs with Udit Narayan [35] and she is known, with Kumar Sanu and Udit Narayan as the trinity of 90s playback singing. [36]

Yagnik stated that singers are also actors. She mentioned that when she sings a song, the actor comes through in her voice. [15]

Yagnik is unhappy that notable songs of her are being remixed. She went on to say, "these days composers can't compose good original songs. They, therefore, reprise old super hit songs and then claim they’ve made hits". [37]

In the media

Yagnik is cited as "the queen of playback singing". [35] On Mother's Day 12 May 2019, Alka became the most-streamed Indian artist-mom on Spotify. [38] The Times of India cited her as 'honey-voiced singer'. [39] Hindustan Times mentioned her as "magical voice". [40] Mid Day included her in the list of notable 90s playback singers. [41]

Personal life

Yagnik married Shillong-based businessman Neeraj Kapoor in 1989 and has a daughter named Syesha Kapoor.



Besides singing, Yagnik also judged several singing reality shows on television. She mentioned that kids and children are the main reasons for doing reality shows and she feels comfortable working with them. [42]

1992 Sapne Sajan Ke Yagnik also appeared in film Sapne Sajan Ke in a song 'Yeh Dua Hai Meri' with co-singer Kumar Sanu.N/AN/A
2006 Sa Re Ga Ma Pa L'il Champs She made her first television debut with the show. Zee TV [42]
2014 Comedy Nights with Kapil On 25 May 2014 she appeared as a special guest along with Kumar Sanu for the popular TV show Comedy Nights with Kapil. Colors TV [43]
Sa Re Ga Ma Pa L'il Champs She had done Sa Re Ga Ma Pa L'il Champs as a judge in first Season and fifth Season as a Maha Guru (also in previous 2 seasons).Zee TV [44]
2016 Bhabiji Ghar Par Hain! In November 2016, she appeared in a Hindi comedy serial Bhabiji Ghar Par Hain! with Kumar Sanu in a special one hour episode. &TV [45]
2017 Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai Yagnik also appeared as a guest in Hindi serial 'Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai' STAR Plus [46]
Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Li’l Champs She came with her co-singer Udit Narayan and sung many duets songs of 90s era.Zee TV [47]
2018 Rising Star She appears as a guest and gave a spcial tribute to late actress Sri Devi Colors [48]
Indian Idol She appeared in 10th season of Indian Idol with co-singer Kumar Sanu. Sony Entertainment Television [49]
2019 The Kapil Sharma Show She appeared in The Kapil Sharma Show with other two judges for the promotion of her show 'Superstar Singer'. [50]
Superstar Singer In 2019, she appeared in Superstar Singer as a Judge in Sony TV. [51]
2020 Sa Re Ga Ma Pa L'il Champs Besides Alka Yagnik, Udit Narayan and Kumar Sanu appeared as judges after 30 years.Zee TV [52]

She also appeared in Star Voice of India as a judge. [1] She appears as a guest with Udit Narayan in Sa Re Ga Ma Pa L'il Champs. [53]

Awards and nominations

Yagnik has won several music awards for best female playback such as Filmfare Awards, National Awards, Lata Mangeshkar Award, [54] Bollywood Movie Awards, IIFA Awards, Star Screen Awards, Zee Cine Awards, etc. She also holds the record for most awards won (7) as well as maximum nominations (36) for Filmfare Award for Best Female Playback Singer. [29] She also won 2 National Film Awards.

See also

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