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Sudha Malhotra

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Sudha Malhotra

Sudha Malhotra was born in New Delhi in 1936, and she was discovered as a child artiste by Master Ghulam Haider (a prominent music director of the 1940s, known for combining popular ragas with Punjabi rhythm in his songs). Her first break as a playback singer came with Mila gaye nain, composed by Anil Biswas, for the film Arzoo (1950). Ganga ki reeti pai (Mirza Ghalib, 1954), Salaam-e-hasrat qubool karlo (Babar, 1960) and Kashti ka khamosh safar hai (Girl Friend, 1960), a duet with Kishore Kumar, Naa mein dhan chahun (with Geeta Dutt), a bhajan from Kala Pani (1958); are the other songs she is often remembered for. She was awarded the coveted Kala Bhushan Award by the President of India Giani Zail Singh in the 1980s.

Sudha is one of the rare female playback singers to have sung a self-composed song — She has not only given the music for the haunting song Tum mujhe bhool bhee jao, from the 1959 film Didi, but also sung it with Mukesh. The story goes that on the day the song had to be recorded, composer N. Dutta fell ill. The recording couldn’t be postponed, as the picturization of the song could not be delayed. On hearing this Sudha offered to compose the number — surely a highlight of her glorious career. Sudha was also often linked with prominent lyricist Sahir Ludhianvi, who was said to be in love with her. Unfortunately, his was to be an unrequited love and it is this disappointment which has been immortalised in the number Chalo ek baar phir se ajnabi ban jaen (Gumrah, 1963). Sudha is now 72 and lives in Mumbai, home of the Hindi film industry. Barring an occasional stage program of ghazals and bhajans, today she is seldom seen or heard.

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