One of India’s most popular playback singers, Sistla Janaki commonly known as S. Janaki recorded more than 48,000 songs in her entire music career including films, albums, tv and radio. She was an occasional music composer too.
Born on 23rd April 1938, Janaki spent most of her childhood at Sircilla. At the age of 9, she got her first stage performance. Basics of music were bought to her by a Nadaswaram Vidwan Paidiswamy. S.Janaki throughout her life did not gain any formal training in classical music. During her early twenties, on the advice of her uncle, Janaki moved to Chennai to join AVM studios as a singer. This marked the beginning of her playback singing journey. In the year 1957, she made her debut by giving her voice to a Tamil movie named Vilayattu. In her first year itself, S.Janaki sang film songs in 6 languages including a song for the Telugu film M.L.A. In her entire career, Janaki sang in more than 17 languages like Kannada, Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu, Hindi, Odiya, Bengali, Tulu, Urdu, Gujarati, Punjabi, Sindhi, Assamese, Konkani, English, Japanese, Latin, Arabic, German, Sinhala, French, Bangla, Russian and Chinese.
Amongst all these languages, S.Janaki sang most of her songs in Kannada. By the early 60’s, Janaki had started working with famous music composers. She soon became the number one female playback singer in Kannada films. Music directors like G K Venkatesh, Rajan-Nagendra and Hamsalekha gave their top compositions the voice of Janaki. Her solos and duets alongside legendary singers like P.B Srinivas, S P Balasubramanyam and Dr Rajkumar are considered evergreen. Songs like “Shiva Shiva ennada naaligeyeke”, ”Poojisalende Hoogala”,” Nambide Ninna”,” Devara Aata” and many more are considered all-time hits in Kannada Cinema.
Even in Malayalam films, S.Janaki was the most sought-after female playback singer. She worked with popular composers like V Dakshinamoorthi, MS Baburaj, Shyam, MK Arjunan, Johnson Master, Raveendran Master, MB Sreenivasan, A.T.Ummer, and Salil Choudhary. Singing more than 1,000 songs from the 60s to the 80s, S.Janaki is the only non-Malayali artist who won maximum awards in Malayalam films. Some of her hit Malayalam tracks were “Thaliritta Kinaakkal”, “Sooryakaanthi”, “Aa Nimishathinte” and “Unni Arariro”.
For her contributions to Telugu Films, Janaki has won 12 Nandi awards. “Neeli Meghalalo”, “Naravara O Kuruvara” and “Page Vennela” are immensely popular Telugu songs even today. The Hindi Film industry also witnessed the beautiful voice of S.Janaki when Bappi Lahiri introduced her to Bollywood.
Songs like “Yaar Bina Chain Kaha Re” and “Aayaa Jab Se Tu Dil Main” made Bollywood a fan of S.Janaki. She also sang many duets with the legendary Kishore Kumar.
A career spanning six decades, S.Janaki won four National Film Awards and 33 State Awards. She was acclaimed as one of the most versatile singers and fondly called “The Nightingale Of South India.” Now listen to your favorite songs by S. Janaki on Saregama Carvaan, a digital audio player with preloaded songs sang by the legends of the industry. Saregama Carvaan comes in a wide range of variants which include Carvaan Mini Kannada, Carvaan Mini Tamil, Carvaan Mini Malayalam, Carvaan Mini Telugu, Carvaan Mini Hindi.
On her 82nd birthday, we celebrate the voice of S. Janaki and her contributions to music.
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