Alka Yagnik is an immensely versatile and melodious Indian female playback singer. She is one of the most successful playback singers of Indian Cinema, who has sung various hit songs in different languages. She is most active in the Hindi film industry. She has been in the industry for four decades, and still, her voice is fresh and liked by the public. She was most active in the last three decades. She has won various awards like National Award, Filmfare Award, etc.
Alka was born on 20th March 1966 in a Gujarati family residing in Kolkata (then Calcutta). Her father, Dharmendra Shankar, was a businessman and her mother, Shubha, was an Indian classical singer.
The inspiration and the guidance for singing came in Alka from her mother. Her mother gave her initial lessons of singing right from her childhood. She used to take Alka to her Indian Classical shows in Kolkata. In 1972, When she was just six years old, she used to sing bhajans for Akashvani (All India Radio) in Kolkata.
Introduction to singing
She shared an incident in an interview about her first stage appearance. She said that when she was nine years old, she went with her mother to her singing show in Kolkata one day. After her mother's performance, another singer was supposed to perform, but he was late. So, in the meanwhile, the organizers asked her mother to let her daughter go and sing on the stage till the male singer arrived to fill the gap. She agreed, and now Alka was on the stage. It was her first time on the stage at the age of 9 years, and she sang very well. The audience liked her song so much that they were not ready to listen to the actual singer who was scheduled to sing at that place.
Every year, her mother used to bring her to Mumbai during her school vacation so that she could introduce her to the music directors. At the age of 10 years in 1976 also, her mother came to Mumbai with her for the same. At that time, Raj Kapoor was very impressed with Alka's singing on Akashvani. Later, he sent her an admiration letter to meet him in Mumbai, and facilitated her meeting with legendary music director Laxmikant. When Laxmikant heard her, he was also very impressed. He gave her mother two choices- either to introduce her now as a dubbing artist or wait for some years and let her voice mature more and then make her debut as a female playback singer. Her mother chose the second option and decided to wait and work on her training.
Her professional career
In 1980, at the age of 14 years, Alka made her debut as a playback singer from the song Thirkat Ang in the film Payal Ki Jhankar. The next song through which people started noticing her voice was Mere Angane Mein from the movie Laawaris in 1981.
The main breakthrough of her career was the song Ek Do Teen in 1988, in the film Tezaab. This song won her first Filmfare award for Best Female Playback Singer. After that, the sequence of her hit songs continued, and she gave back-to-back hit songs in different languages. She sang in Hindi, Bengali, Assamese, Gujarati, Punjabi, Bhojpuri, Tamil, Malayalam, Marathi, Manipuri, Odia, and Telugu.
Her song with Ila Arun, "Choli Ke Piche Kya Hai" in 1993, became controversial and people claimed that its lyrics are double meaning. However, she was awarded her second Filmfare for this song. During the 90s and 2000s, she sang various all-time favourite songs like Tum Yaad Aaye, Tum Aaye, Chamma Chamma, Pardesi Pardesi, etc.
Alka also sang songs for a couple of government campaigns like Shiksha ka Suraj for the National Literacy Mission of India in 2012, Phool Khil Jaayenge for the child health awareness campaign of the government in 2014, and the same year, Maine li Jo Angadai for the Women's Day campaign.
Alka holds the record of winning the most Filmfare titles for Best Playback Singer, same as the Asha Bhosle (both won 7 times). She sang around 2500 songs in thousands of films.
Her song Taal Se Taal Mila was selected as the song of the century by the poll conducted by DesiMartini, Hindustan Times, and Fever 104. In the survey conducted by Sanona, her song Choli Ke Piche Kya Hai was selected as the hottest song of the century.
She ranks third after Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhosle in singing the maximum number of solo songs in the music industry.
She married Neeraj Kapoor in 1989. He is a Shillong-based Businessman and the nephew of Alka's mother's friend. Both of them live away from each other due to their profession. The couple has a daughter, Syesha, who used to stay with Alka. Now, she (Syesha) is married and stays with her husband.