15 Jun 2023

Songs Like Titli Udi Made Sharda Immortal; What Are Her Other Achievements That Will Never Be Forgotten

Veteran singer and composer Sharda Rajan Iyengar, who is most remembered for her legendary song Titli Udi from the 1966 film Suraj, passed away on 15 June due to cancer at the age of 86. She was known for her distinctive style and sang for actress Rajshree in many of her films.

Besides, Titli Udi, Sharda will always be remembered for songs like Chale Jaana Jara Thahro..., Wo Pari Kahan Se Laun..., Jab Bhi Ye Dil Udaas Hota Hai, among others.

Raj Kapoor gave her break

Early in her career Sharda was offered a voice test by Raj Kapoor when he first heard her singing at Shrichand Ahuja's residence in Tehran. She got her first big break in Bollywood with the song "Titli Udi" in Suraj. She was promoted by Shankar of the Shankar Jaikishan duo.

Sharda made history as Filmfare started giving two awards for best playback singer

Titli udi turned out to be a top chartbuster in 1966. It so happens that the coveted Filmfare award for best playback singer had only one category (either male or female) until 1966. "Titli Udi" song, however, was tied as best song with Mohd Rafi's song "Baharo Phool Barsao" which had never happened before. 

Sharda didn't win the award but from then on Filmfare started giving two awards for best playback singer: one for male singer and the other for female singer. Thus Sharda made history. 

Sharda was nominated four years in a row

Thereafter Sharda was nominated four years in a row (1968–71) for best female playback singer and won another Filmfare award. In a short span Sharda won two Filmfare awards, when the Mangeshkar Sisters were dominating. Thereafter she continued singing for Shankar in nearly all of his films until his death. Her voice was last heard in Kaanch Ki Deewar (1986).

Sharda released her Ghazal album Andaaz-e-Bayan Aur

On 21 July 2007 Sharda released her Ghazal album Andaaz-e-Bayan Aur, a compilation of Mirza Ghalib's ghazals. 

In the mid-1970s she directed music for films like Maa Behen Aur Biwi, Tu Meri Main Tera, Kshitij, Mandir Masjid, and Maila Anchal. Mohd Rafi was nominated for Filmfare Best Male Playback Singer Award for the song "Achcha Hi Hua Dil Toot Gaya" from Maa Behen Aur Biwi (1974), which he sang under Sharda's music direction. 

Lent her voice to leading actresses of the time

She sang with singers such as Mohd Rafi, Asha Bhosle, Kishore Kumar, Yesudas, Mukesh, and Suman Kalyanpur. She lent her voice to leading actresses of the time like Vyjayanthimala, Sadhana, Saira Banu, Hema Malini, Sharmila Tagore, Mumtaz, Rekha, and Helen. 

In addition to Shankar, she recorded songs with Usha Khanna, Ravi, Dattaram, Iqbal Qureshi, and others. She was the first Indian female singer to record her own pop album in India with Sizzlers, released in 1971 by HMV.

Away from limelight

Sharda had been away from the limelight for the past nearly two decades. However, she was active on Twitter and often posted videos of her golden days. She even used to manage a website and used to take singing and puppetry lessons for kids.

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