Bollywood’s Singing Actors


Today’s post is Bollywood’s Singing Actors. Recently, I was listening to the radio and the FM channel played a song from Haath Ki Safai (1974). There are quite a few songs in the movie. What was special about this song? The female vocals were given by the actor performing in the song, i.e. Hema Malini. That got me thinking. I remembered Sridevi singing a song in Chandni (1989). Slowly, this article got a shape in my mind.

When the talkies began in India, songs were prominently present in the movies. There used to be several songs in the movies, almost every few minutes. The actors used to be singers, as well. It was a professional necessity. Soon, the trend of playback singing began and some singers like Kishore Kumar continued to sing for themselves. He also began to sing for others. There was, then, a new crop of artists, who restricted themselves to playback singing – like Mohammad Rafi, Mukesh, Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhonsle.

For this article, I have selected the songs by actors, who are not regular singers but have sung their own songs in some movies. Their voices have been heard singing for their performances in the movies. Sonu Nigam does not feature in my list because he is predominantly a singer and has given some onscreen performances. Shailendra Singh became a singer first and has acted in a few movies in between. Though he sang for himself and others, he is also out of my list. Himesh Reshammiya is also not in my list, who is mainly a composer and who often sings his own songs but has acted in a few movies. Composer Jatin Pandit has also not made it into my list, though he has performed at least one of the songs that he sang. This was for Jo Jeeta Wahi Sikander (1992).

Kishore Kumar is an exception to the rule. He is in my list because he became popular as a singing actor and sang for himself mostly in the late 1940s, 1950s and 1960s and some movies in the later years before he expired.

Here’s my list. But, if the readers find that some of the singing actors have not been included in my list, they can feel free to add them in the comments section.

Bollywood’s Singing Actors

Pyar par bas toh nahin hai mera… Sone Ki Chidiya (1958). Talat Mahmood was an actor as well as a singer initially.

Aye mere humsafar… Chhabili (1960). Nutan sang this rare song for herself in the movie.

Woh mere peeche haath dhoke pada hai… Half Ticket (1962). I love this Kishore Kumar song. Lata Mangeshkar has given the vocals for Helen, here.

Rail gadi… Aashirwad (1968). Ashok Kumar started his career as a singing actor. But eventually with playback singing gaining prominence, prominent singers gave him their vocals. This song is one of my childhood favorites, sung by Dada Muni.

Peenewale ko peeneka bahana chahiye… Haath Ki Safayi (1974). Hema Malini sang for herself in this song and Kishore Kumar gave his voice to Randhir Kapoor.

Chandni o meri Chandni… Chandni (1989). Sridevi’s kiddish voice is still ringing in my ears. Jolly Mukherjee has given his vocals for Rishi Kapoor, here.

Chal mere bhai… Naseeb (1981). Mohammad Rafi and later Kishore Kumar had given their voices to Amitabh Bachchan. But, Amitabh Bachchan tried playback singing with a song in Mr. Natwarlal (1979). Thus, he also sang this song with Mohammad Rafi Sahab (who sings for Rishi Kapoor in this song). In later years, Shabbir Kumar, Mohammad Aziz and Sudesh Bhosale began giving their voices to the Actor of the Millenium, in Bollywood movies.

Apun bola tu meri Laila… Josh (2000). Shah Rukh Khan experimented in singing with this song.

Why this kolaveri di? 3 (2011). Dhanush had the world singing to his tune with this song. Even those people, who did not know Tamil, swayed to the song. During the time this song got popular once, I saw a teenage boy singing this song with an emphasis on the Di. Internet is powerful!


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