S. Janaki - The Lata Mangeshkar Of South Indian Cinema

Just as Melody Queen Lata Mangeshkar has enchanted generations with her sweeter than honey voice around the globe likewise South Sensational singer S. Janaki has enthralled millions of music lovers down South India and around the world wherever South Indian music regales. April 23, marks the birthday of the versatile singer, Raaga.Com wishes her many happy returns of the day. 

Since S.Janaki began her career in 1957 more than 10 years after Lata Mangeshkar hence has she was motivated by Lata Mangeshkar and took inspiration for the Nightingale of Indian cinema. Interestingly Janaki owes her entry into films to Lata Mangeshkar because in the late 50’s when AVM Studios, Chennai, was on the lookout for a new female voice Janaki went for the audition and sang Lata Mangeshkar’s ‘O Sajna…’ before music directors R. Sudarsanam and Govardhanam. They were so impressed that Janaki was promptly appointed as a staff artiste.

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What made S.Janaki a hot favorite among music directors was her ability to give variation in the range of voice very much like Lata Mangeshkar in Bollywood

If she could sing high octave-high pitched classical dance song ‘Singara Velane Vaa…,’ from the film ‘KONCHUM CHILANKAI,’ she could equally stand out in the song ‘Kanan nalla kinavukkal….’ (‘BHARYA’) or mesmerize listeners with the haunting Baburaj melody, ‘Thaliritta kinakkal…’ MOODUPADAM that made people sit up and take notice. 

Her versatility can be gauged from the fact that she has attempted every kind of song from a child’s voice ‘Kokkamandi…’ (CHIRIYO CHIRI), imitated a drunkard in the Tamil song ‘Paapa peru malli…’ (OORU KOTTA DHILLI), sung in a male voice in the film NENJATHAI KILLATHAE and lent her voice for a old woman in the film UTHIRIPOOKAL.

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In her illustrious career S Janaki has sung 1,277 songs in Malayalam, more than 1,500 songs in Kannada, 1108 songs in Tamil, 1000 songs in Telugu, more than 100 songs in Hindi and around 50 songs in Oriya.

She has even worked with A. R. Rahman, beginning with the album Fantasy and then later in films such as GENTLEMAN, KATHALAN, UYIRE and JODI

She has received many awards for her talent. She won national awards for best singer four times. She has won Tamil Nadu state government award 7 times, Kerala state Government awards 14 times, Andhra state government awards 10 times. She was honoured with 'Kalai Mamani' in 1986, 'Sur singar' award in 1987, Cinema 'Achiever Award' by the government of Kerala in the year 2002 and many more.

The government of India honored her with India’s biggest civilian ‘Padma Bhushan’ Award in 2013 but she declined to receive terming it too late for recognition.