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Artist

S. Janaki

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Biography

Sishtla Sreeramamurthy Janaki (born 23 April 1938), popularly known as S. Janaki, is an Indian playback singer, and occasional music-composer hails from Andhra Pradesh. She is one of the best-known playback singers in South India who has recorded 48000 songs in Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Odiya, Hindi, Bengali, Tulu, Sanskrit, Sinhalese, Badaga, Punjabi, Urdu, Japanese, German, Latin and Arabic languages. Janaki started her career in 1957 and has spanned over six decades. She has recorded songs in more than seventeen regional Indian languages and foreign languages. She has won four National Film Awards and 32 different State Film Awards. Her association with singer S. P. Balasubrahmanyam and composer Ilaiyaraaja is well known. In the 60s and 70s, her duets with P.B.Srinivas were some of the most romantic duets in the history of Tamil and Kannada film music.

S. Janaki, who is known as "The Nightingale of the South", is a recipient of an honorary doctorate from the University of Mysore and the Kalaimamani award from Tamil Nadu State Government. S.Janaki is called the Queen of Expressions for her ability to express different kind of emotions.

In 2013, she refused the offer of a Padma Bhushan award by the Government of India, saying that it had come "too late" and that South Indian artists were not given their due recognition.

A book titled, 'Aalpanathile Thenum Vayambum', authored by Abhilash Pudukad and published by Logos Books details the singing, life and songs of S. Janaki.

S. Janaki was born on 23 April 1938 in a Telugu-speaking family in Pallapatla, Repalle Town, in Guntur, Madras Presidency, British India (now in Andhra Pradesh). She was interested in music from early age and started performing at the age of three. She learnt music from Sree Paidiswamy, a nadaswaram teacher.

In her twenties, S. Janaki moved to Chennai on the advice of her uncle Dr. Chandrashekar and joined AVM Studios as a singer. She started her career in movies as a playback singer in the Tamil movie Vidhiyin Vilayattu in 1957. Subsequently, she performed in the Telugu movie MLA. She did sing film songs in six languages in her very first year! With her inbuilt flair for languages and mind blowing grasping skills, it was always a bulls eye for S Janaki, The Singing Stalwart. She has also recorded devotional music of Meera. She picked a Malayalam lullaby "Amma poovinum..." from 10 Kalpanakal as her swan song for the long 60 years of singing career and retired on 22 September 2016.

Janaki was increasingly given work by music directors such as M. S. Viswanathan , K. V. Mahadevan , Sankar Ganesh , V. Kumar etc.. But her combination with M S Baburaj in Malayalam is equalled to that of Lata- Madan Mohan in hindi film music by many music critics. From late 70's till mid 90's she formed a strong singer - composer pair with Ilayaraja in Tamil and Telugu. She was the favorite singer of Kannada music director G K Venkitesh and sung innumerable hits for him in Kannada.

As Janaki has mentioned on many occasions that the toughest song of her entire singing career is the Kannada song "Shiva shiva ennada naaligeyeke" from the movie Hemavathi. The song, which is in two different ragas, Thodi and Aabhogi, was composed by L. Vaidyanathan. Janaki had prayed to her beloved god before going to record this unique song. While talking about this song, K.S. Chitra said that Nobody can touch this song.

S. Janaki married V. Ramprasad in 1958. He died in 1990. Currently, Janaki lives in Hyderabad with her son Murali Krishna.

Most of S. Janaki's songs have been with S.P. Balasubrahmanyam. However, in the South Indian film industry, she also had a large amount of duets with Dr. Rajkumar, T.M. Soundararajan, P.B. Sreenivas, K.J. Yesudas, P. Jayachandran, Malaysia Vasudevan, Sirkazhi Govindarajan, Mano (singer), Ghantasala and Ilaiyaraaja, etc.

In the Tamil cinema, although she had sung with S.P. Balasubrahmanyam, Malaysia Vasudevan, T.M. Soundararajan, P.B. Sreenivas, Jayachandran and Ilaiyaraaja, she also had songs with singers like Unni Menon, ], Shankar Mahadevan, Srinivas (singer), M.G. Sreekumar, Hariharan (singer), and Dhanush.

In the Hindi cinema, although she also sang a few songs with S.P. Balasubrahmanyam, she also sang some songs with Kishore Kumar, Amit Kumar, Suresh Wadkar, Bappi Lahiri, Mohammed Aziz, and Udit Narayan.

Timeline