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Asia Alka Yagnik has been nominated for the Asia/Pacific category

Alka Yagnik (India)

Song : Raja Hindustani
Album : 24 Karat Gold (Tips Special, India)

Bollywood was long considered a bad joke by many people, even those interested in Indian music. Yet over the last few years Bollywood has entered mainstream British culture – its films gross highly in the UK, DJs spin the soundtracks in fashionable cafes and clubs and the musical Bollywood Dreams has been a huge success. And to those who follow contemporary Bollywood films there is a singer who they rate above all others.

For the past decade, Alka Yagnik has reigned supreme in the world of playback singing in India. While Asha Bhosle and Lata Mangeshkar remain the living legends of Bollywood, both are recording less now so Alka has stepped into their formidable shoes. In India Alka has had hit after hit and is the playback voice all Bollywood's leading female film stars want dubbed over their performance.

Born to Gujaratis who were based in Calcutta, Alka's mother Shubha Yagnik was a singer of Indian classical music. Shubha was determined her daughter succeed as a singer. Alka started singing for Calcutta Radio aged six. Aged ten, Alka's mother brought her to Bombay to try her luck in films as a child singer. She was advised to wait till her voice matured but her mother remained determined and on a subsequent visit Alka got a letter of introduction to Raj Kapoor from his Calcutta distributor. Raj heard the girl and sent her with a letter to noted producer Laxmikant. Impressed, Laxmikant gave her two alternatives - an immediate start as a dubbing artist, or a later break as a full - fledged singer. The Yagniks settled for the latter.

It was in early 1979 that Alka got to sing a few lines in Rajshri's Payal Ki Jhankar. Her first full song was Hum Tum Rahenge for a Basu Chatterjee comedy. However the film was delayed and her first release proved to be a folk song from the 1981 film Mere Angne Mein.

All through the '80's Alka kept singing in films, yet hits eluded her. It was in 1988 that she got her breakthrough with the song that was to become a Bollywood classic Ek Do Teen Char. Since then she has become the most in-demand singer in Bollywood. Recently she entered the world of Indi-Pop and was just as successful there.

Garth Cartwright 2002

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