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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A playback singer is a singer whose singing is prerecorded for use in movies. Playback singers record songs for soundtracks, and actors or actresses lip-sync the songs for cameras, while the actual singer does not appear on screen. It is a usual feature when a non-singing actor or actress plays a singing role in a musical movie.

South Asian movies produced in the Indian subcontinent are particularly known for using this technique. A majority of Indian movies (particularly Bollywood and other regional films) as well as Pakistani movies, typically include six or seven songs. Popular playback singers in India enjoy the same status as popular actors, and music directors, such as Rahul Dev Burman (1939-1994)[1][2] and A. R. Rahman,[3] also receive wide public admiration.

Most of the playback singers are initially trained in classical music, though they later often expand their range.[4] The sisters Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhosle, who have mainly worked in Hindi films, are often referred to as two of the best-known and most prolific playback singers in India.[5][6][7][8][9] Mangeshkar was cited by the Guinness Book of World Records for having sung the most number of song recordings by any singer in the world.[10][11] According to the 1999 book entry, the record by a male singer was held by S. P. Balasubramanyam.

Other popular singers include but are not limited to: Mohammed Rafi,[5] Mukesh, Manna Dey, K. J. Yesudas, Kishore Kumar, Geeta Dutt, Anuradha Paudwal, K. S. Chitra, P. Susheela, Alka Yagnik, Kavita Krishnamurthy, Udit Narayan, Kumar Sanu, Sonu Nigam, Shreya Ghoshal and Sunidhi Chauhan.[12][13]

Famous Pakistani playback singers are Ahmed Rushdi,[14] Mehdi Hassan, Masood Rana, Saleem Raza, Alamgir, A Nayyar, Waris Baig, Adnan Sami Khan, Noor Jahan (Malika-e-Tarannum), Mala, Naseem Begum, Irene Parveen, Mehnaz, Naheed Akhtar and Runa Laila.[15][16][17]

Songs in Bollywood movies - the combined products of the talents of lyricists, music directors/composers, and singers - often determine the extent of success of individual Indian movies; as such, playback singers are an important part of the Indian film industry. Soundtrack albums of songs in movies are usually released before the movies.

Playback singing is not as common in Hollywood given the fact that musicals are not as frequent. It was, however, more widely used back in time. Notable Hollywood performances include Bill Lee voicing the Christopher Plummer character in The Sound of Music,[18] and Betty Noyes singing for Debbie Reynolds in Singing In The Rain,[19] a movie in which playback singing is a major plot point.

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See also


  1. ^ Wolk, Douglas (April 1999). "Kill Your Radio: Music On The 'Net". CMJ New Music (Electro Media): 61.  
  2. ^ D. Booth, Gregory (2008). Behind the curtain: making music in Mumbai's film studios. OUP USA. pp. 275–276. ISBN 0195327640.  
  3. ^ Srinivasan, Meera (27 February 2009). "Fans spend a sleepless night". The Hindu. Retrieved 2009-08-18.  
  4. ^ Rajamani, Radhika (17 February 2003). "Realising a dream". The Hindu. Retrieved 2009-07-22.  
  5. ^ a b Gangadhar, v. (18 May 2001). "Only the best preferred". The Hindu. Retrieved 2009-07-22.  
  6. ^ Gulzar; Nihalani, Govind; Chatterji, Saibal (2003). Encyclopaedia of Hindi Cinema. Popular Prakashan. pp. 72–73. ISBN 8179910660.  
  7. ^ Arnold, Alison (2000). The Garland Encyclopedia of World Music. Taylor & Francis. p. 420–421. ISBN 0824049462.  
  8. ^ Yasmeen, Afshan (21 September 2004). "Music show to celebrate birthday of melody queen". The Hindu. Retrieved 2009-08-19.  
  9. ^ Pride, Dominic (August 1996). "The Latest Music News From Around The Planet". Billboard: 51.  
  10. ^ Puri, Amit (24 February 2003). "Dedicated to Queen of Melody". The Tribune, Chandigarh. Retrieved 2009-08-18.  
  11. ^ "Melody Queen Lata rings in 75th birthday quietly". The Tribune, Chandigarh. 29 September 2004. Retrieved 2009-08-18.  
  12. ^ Kumar, Divya (5 February 2009). "Shreya rocks". The Hindu. Retrieved 2009-10-14.  
  13. ^ Locapally, Vijay (5 January 2008). "Singing star". The Hindu. Retrieved 2009-08-19.  
  14. ^ "Nisar Bazmi passes away". DAWN. 2007-03-23. Retrieved 2009-07-22
  15. ^ Gupta, Om (2006). Encyclopaedia of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Gyan Publishing House. p. 48. ISBN 9788182053892
  16. ^ Mazhar Iqbal, "Ahmad Rushdi". Retrieved 2006-04-12.
  17. ^ Alavi, Omair (2006-10-01). "The rise and fall of playback singing". DAWN. Retrieved 2009-07-22.
  18. ^
  19. ^ Earl J. Hess and Pratibha A. Dabholkar, Singin' in the Rain: The Making of an American Masterpiece (Lawrence, Kansas: University Press of Kansas, 2009), 145.


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