'50s star Sudha Malhotra, fans meet in Bengaluru

'50s star Sudha Malhotra, fans meet in Bengaluru

Admirers of the Hindi playback singer flew down from multiple cities to interact with her and take part in a vintage music conference

Sudha Malhotra, who delivered a string of hits in the ‘50s, flew down from Mumbai to Bengaluru for a brief visit recently.

Her first film song was for the 1950 romance Arzoo, based on a story by the well-known Urdu writer Ishmat Chugtai. The last film song she recorded was Yeh pyar tha kuch aur tha, for Raj Kapoor’s Prem Rog (1982).

That last film marked a brief comeback at the insistence of Raj Kapoor; she had stopped singing for films in the ‘60s, although she continued to record ghazals and Marathi
bhavageets. She collaborated with Jagjit Singh in the ghazal album In a Mood of Love (1980).

Sudha at her Mumbai bungalow.

Sudha interacted with a group of music lovers at an event hosted by RMIM at the KAS Officers’ Club on Infantry Road. RMIM stands or recorded.music.indian.misc, a worldwide group of vintage music connoisseurs. The online group was formed in 1992 in the Usenet era, before the advent of www. Its members also meet offline, in cities across the world.

A session at the latest meet in Bengaluru was dedicated to the songs of Sudha. In a chat with Metrolife soon after the session, she recalled her childhood days in Bhopal, where she underwent rigorous training in Hindustani classical music.

Born in 1936 in Kurukshetra, Punjab, Sudha spent her childhood in Lahore, Bhopal, and Firozepur. Her musical career began when she was just five. She was regarded as a child prodigy, and was soon featured on radio. She studied music in
college as well, and got a bachelor’s degree in music from Agra University.

Sudha was spotted at a public programme by music composer Ghulam Haider, and sang for the film Arzoo. That was her first film recording.
She went on to sing 264 songs for 155 films, some notable ones being Dilli Door Ast, Girl Friend, Dekh Kabira Roya, Barsaat ki Raat, Dhool ka Phool, Gauhar, Dil-e-Naadan, Babar, Didi and Kala Pani. She also acted in some films. She sang with many illustrious peers, including Lata Mangeshkar, Manna Dey, Talat Mahmood
and Geeta Dutt.

Among the composers Sudha worked with were Ghulam Mohammed,
Anil Biswas, Ravi, Roshan, N Dutta, C Ramchandra and S D Burman.

Sudha stopped singing in 1960, after her marriage to Giridhar Motwane, whose family owned Chicago Telephone and Radio Company. The company makes public address systems, and has been in business since 1909, that is for 110 years. Sudha says her a motivation for her father-in-law was to deploy the mics and loudspeakers to make people hear great leaders like Gandhi. A 1950 print ad featured Nehru speaking into a Chicago Radio mic.

When Metrolife asked Sudha about her Bengaluru connections, she said
the company had a manufacturing unit and an office here, and she had visited the city several times over the decades.

The city is also home to many music lovers familiar with her songs.

“She has a way of hitting the notes lightly and that makes her music very
pleasant,” says Kalyan Kolachala, RMIM member and admirer of Sudha’s singing.