While the phenomenon of music composers singing for their own music is not unheard of, it is happening more frequently these days in Bollywood. Quite a few composers are now willing to lend their voices to their tracks in Bollywood movies. And these are not some unknown composers filling in to save the fees of a singer, rather, they are popular composers renowned for their good music.
Here is a list of the top music composers who are also great playback singers.
A. R. Rahman:
A. R. Rahman has sung a lot of songs right from the time he entered mainstream cinema. He has a distinct voice and has many popular Tamil, Telugu and Hindi songs to his credit, many of them solo. From the title track of the movie Dil Se (1998) to the title track of Swades (2004), he has delivered many solo hits. He regularly lends his voice as a secondary singer. Some of the popular hits are Humma Humma, Kehna Hi Kya (both from Bombay – 1995), and Kun Faya Kun (Rockstar – 2011), among others.
Being a national and international award-winning music composer and singer known for bringing Indian classical music and electronic music together, he lends a gravitas to each composition he sings. He has been active since the 1990s, finding his first major success with the film Roja in 1992.
Shankar Mahadevan is a part of Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy, an award-winning music composer trio, who made their Bollywood music debut officially with the track for the unreleased film Dus (1997). Since then, they have composed memorable songs for blockbusters such as Dil Chahta Hai (2001), Bunti Aur Babli (2005), Taare Zameen Par (2007), Don: The Chase Begins Again (2006), Rock On (2008) and many more.
Mahadevan has come a long way from the music album Breathless (1998) that bought him national recognition. He started his playback singing career with a Marathi movie Vahinichi Maya (1985) and slowly moved into Bollywood with hit songs such as Take It Easy Urvashi (Humse Hai Muqabla – 1995), I Love My India (Pardes – 1997), Kay Sera Sera (Pukar – 1999)and more, pairing up with noted music composers such as A. R. Rahman and Anu Malik, among others.
Starting as the vocalist/songwriter of the indie rock/electronic band Pentagram, Vishal Dadlani has carved a niche for himself in the Indian music industry. He is one-half of the award-winning music composer duo of Vishal-Shekhar. Together, they have composed music for many Hindi films (among others) and are credited as the architects of the modern Bollywood sound.
Dadlani also lends his voice to the songs in addition to penning the lyrics at times as well. He has sung some of the chartbusters such as Jaane Kyun (Dostana – 2008), I Feel Good (Anjaana Anjaani – 2010), and Sheila Ki Jawani (Tees Maar Khan – 2010), and many more for his own compositions. You might have also heard his powerful voice as Peshwa Bajirao in the song Malhari composed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali. Vishal has also made a special appearance in many movies, one of them being Tees Maar Khan.
Shekhar Ravjiani is the other half of the music composer duo of Vishal-Shekhar. They have composed music for many Hindi, Marathi and Telugu songs. Starting out in the late 90s, Vishal-Shekhar got their first hit with the song Tu Aashiqui Hai from the movie Jhankar Beats (2003). They have never looked back since. Recently they composed the music for Sultan (2016).
Ravjiani is a trained classical singer and lends his voice to some of the songs he composes with Vishal. Some of the popular songs he has sung are Tujhe Bhula Diya (Anjaana Anjaani – 2010), Ishq Wala Love (Student of the Year – 2012), Zehnaseeb (Hasee Toh Phasee – 2014), Meherban (Bang Bang – 2014), and many more. He is also a judge and mentor on a popular Indian music talent show. He also made his acting debut with the movie Neerja in 2016.
Known for his different tone and perspective, Amit Trivedi is one of the best music composers in the Indian music industry right now. Entering the limelight and winning many hearts with the distinct music of Aamir (2008) and Dev.D (2009), Trivedi has won several accolades for his work on his movies for these and other projects since then. He has penned the lyrics for a few songs as well.
Some of the songs Trivedi has lent his soulful voice to include Nayan Tarse (Dev.D – 2009), Aisha (Aisha – 2010), English Vinglish (English Vinglish – 2012), Manmarziyan (Lootera – 2013), Jugni (Queen – 2014), Pashmina (Fitoor – 2016), and many more.