South Indian Voices who got National/Filmfare Award for Bollywood Songs

Apart from artists from Bengal, Bollywood has also welcomed many music artists from south India. Apart from composition, many south Indian playback singers have earned fame and recognition for singing songs in Bollywood. Read to know: Top South Indian voices in Bollywood. It’s not easy for south Indians to follow Hindi accent and diction with 100% perfection. Same problem arises when Bollywood singers sing for south Indian movies as well. Yet a few singers have managed to conquer this language, contributed many hit songs and also earned awards for playback singing at Filmfare and National awards for a language that’s not their mother tongue. Quite a few artists are there who owns roots in south India though born and brought up in Mumbai or other parts of North India. Let us see who they are.

K. J. Yesudas – Recipient of both National awards & Filmfare for Hindi songs  

Definitely Yesudas is one of the most popular south Indian voices in Bollywood, who owns fans across the world. Frequently associated with Ravinder Jain, Salil Chowdhury, Usha Khanna and Bappi Lahiri, he gave some melodious and memorable songs to Bollywood in the 1970s and 1980s. His voice perfectly matched with Amol Palekar in Bollywood. Currently holding the record of maximum awards at National Film awards playback singing category (seven awards), this legendary and versatile voice has won both National and Filmfare awards for Hindi songs.

He won National award for ‘Gori Tera Gaon Bada Pyara’ of Chitchor for the year 1976. He was nominated at Filmfare four times at three award sections and received once for the song, “Dil Ke Tukde Tukde” from Dada in 1980. “Gori Tera Gaon” from Chitchor, “Sunayana In Nazaron Ko” from Sunayana and “Ka Karoon Sajni Aye Na Baalam” from Swami are the songs which earned him rest three nominations. Yesudas is the most celebrated singer of Malayalam film industry since 1960s.

Anuradha Paudwal – Winner of maximum Filmfare awards among South Indians

One of the well-established names among female voices since late 1980s, she is the winner of four Filmfare awards from 11 nominations. She is also a recipient of National award for a Marathi film song. She bagged Filmfare awards for the songs – Mere Man Bajo Mridang of Utsav, Nazar Ke Saamne of Aashique, title track of Dil Hai Ki Manta Nahin and Dhak Dhak Karne Laga of Beta. She remained the top Bollywood singer in the late 1980s and 1990s and won maximum awards and nominations during this period.

She also received Filmfare nominations for the songsMaine Ek Geet Likha Hai of Yeh Nazdeekiyan, Title Track of Hero, Keh Do Ki Tum of Tezaab, Bekhabar Bewafa and Tera Naam Liya of Ram Lakhan, Mujhe Neend Na Aaye of Dil and Bahut Pyar Karte Hain of Saajan. She received her last Filmfare award and nomination for 1992 film Beta. She has been continuously nominated at Filmfare since 1986 till 1993, except two years when the awards were not organized. Ironically she has never been nominated for Filmfare awards after that, and it has been more than two decades till now. 


S. P. Balasubrahmanyam – Recipient of both National awards & Filmfare for Hindi songs 

Among the south Indian playback singers since 1990s, he is the most successful playback voice, who regularly acted as the ghost voice of Salman Khan and Kamal Hassan in their early movies. He earned National awards & Filmfare awards for singing their songs as well. In fact he got his first break to Hindi cinema for Kamal Hassan’s film Ek Duje Ke Liya. Except the female solo, he rendered his voice for all songs except “Solah Baras Ki” and bagged his second National award (maiden in Hindi) for the song – “Tere Mere Beech Mein”. He also received his first Filmfare nomination for the same song.

He received 4 Filmfare nominations of which one is for singing for Kamal Hassan and rest three for Salman Khan. He won Filmfare award for the song – “Dil Deewana” from Maine Pyar Kiya and was nominated for Tumse Milne Ki Tamanna Hai” of Saajan and title track of Hum Aapke Hain Koun..! Though haven’t taken formal training in Carnatic music, he is next to Yesudas in winning maximum number of National awards. He is a recipient of six National Film Awards from 4 languages, indeed a great achievement and proving that language is not a barrier to him. 

K. S. Chithra – Winner of National award for a Hindi song 

Chithra currently holds the record among female singers to win maximum National awards in female playback singer category. She is a recipient of 6 awards for the renditions in three different languages including Hindi, a great achievement. She received it for Payali Chunmun Chunmun of Virasat in 1997. Read more to know an interesting fact connecting this song and National award.

She has been nominated at Filmfare awards twice, though she is yet to win it. She received Filmfare nominations for the songs ‘Payali Chunmun Chunmun’ of Virasat and Title track of Koi Mil Gaya. Also read: Top 20 Bollywood songs of Chithra. She is nicknamed as ‘Nightingale of South’, and the most celebrated female voice of South Indian film industry since late 1980s.

Hariharan – Recipient of National award for Border

This versatile singer is known for ghazals, and he has given some memorable songs in Tamil and Hindi languages as well. In 1997, he was awarded National award for best playback singer for Hindi song – “Mere Dushman Mere Bhai” from the movie – Border. He has been nominated thrice at Filmfare though he is yet to receive an award. “Dil Ne Dil Se” from Haqeeqat, “Chappa Chappa Charkha Chale” from Maachis and “I Love My India” from Pardes are the songs for which he received nomination at Filmfare. He is also a recipient of National awards for one Marathi film. Also read: Top 15 Bollywood Songs of Hariharan 

Shankar Mahadevan – Recipient of two National awards for Hindi 

He is the only south Indian voice to receive two National awards for Hindi. He is also a recipient of National award in playback singing category for a Tamil film composed by A. R. Rahman. He is of south Indian origin, born and brought up in Mumbai.
Though Shankar Mahadevan has received multiple awards for music direction at Filmfare and National Film awards once, he is yet to receive a Filmfare award for playback singing. The rendition of highly touching song – Maa from Taare Zameen Par earned him National award for best playback singer in 2007 and “Bolo Na” from Chittagong earned him the third and final National award in best male playback singer category. He had earlier won it once for a Tamil film for the year 2000.

Naresh Iyer – Recipient of National award for his most popular song

He is of Tamil origin, born and brought up in Mumbai. He shot to fame with “Roobaroo” song from the movie Rang De Basanti composed by A. R. Rahman. The song earned him R. D. Burman award and also his first National award for best male singer for the year 2006. Also read: Top 60 Bollywood songs of A. R. Rahman.

Vani Jayaram – Winner of Filmfare award for Meera

She became the ghost voice of Hema Malini for all bhajans of the movie, ‘Meera’. In 1980, she was nominated at Filmfare for two songs of Meera, and won it for “Mere To Giridhar Gopal”. She has never been nominated at Filmfare except for a couple of songs for Meera, though she is quite popular for her Guddi songs.

Usha Uthup – Earned her first Filmfare after a long wait 

She was highly emotional and burst into tears when she won her first Filmfare awards for the rendition of ‘Darling song’ of 7 Khoon Maaf. Her words straight from her heart touched audience a lot. She is of south Indian origin, and has roots in Kerala and Tamil Nadu. She received her first nomination for her first Hindi song – “Ek Do Cha Cha Cha”(1978), and was later nominated for “Hari Om Hari” from Pyara Dushman and “Rambha Ho” from Armaan in the early 1980s. She received her fourth and final nomination after almost three decades in 2011, and finally converted it to the prestigious award. 
Uthup gave new definitions to Indian pop culture, and she gives preference to performance than playback singing. For the same reason she has recorded only lesser number of film songs. Also read: 20 Less-heard voices of Bollywood in 1970s & 1980s.


As listed above, Chithra is the only female voice from south who managed to receive National award for a Hindi film song. Among male voices, KK shares the unlucky record aside Suresh Wadkar for being nominated at Filmfare awards 6 times without any win. If I have missed any name in the list, please leave a comment below.

I have added a big list of articles on Filmfare Awards, the most celebrated film awards of Hindi cinema. Here is the page link. Click on the images to read. 

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A freelance writer and blogger by profession since October 2011, interested in writing over a wide range of topics. Hope you enjoy my writings. I belong to one of the beautiful places of the world, Kerala, nicknamed as 'God's own country'.

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2 Responses

  1. rajesh says:

    very informative blog. thanks for sharing.
    Bollywood Grooves

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