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Name  Swarnalatha Cherukutty
Occupation(s)  Singer
Role  Playback Singer
Years active  1987–2010
Instruments  vocals

Swarnalatha wearing blue dress and gold jewelries while holding a microphone

Genres  Playback singing, Carnatic music
Died  September 12, 2010, Chennai
Albums  Appavanavare, Mukkabla, Konnayur Muthumari
Awards  National Film Award for Best Female Playback Singer
Similar People  Mano, Anuradha Sriram, P Unnikrishnan, S P Balasubrahmanyam, Malaysia Vasudevan

Parents  Kalyani, K. C. Cherukutty

Playback singer swarnalatha singing malayil yaro

Swarnalatha (29 April 1973 – 12 September 2010) was an Indian playback singer. From 1987 onward, she rendered nearly 7,000 songs in many languages including Tamil, Kannada, Telugu, Hindi, Malayalam, Urdu, Bengali, Oriya, Punjabi and Badaga.


Swarnalatha's tight lipped smile while wearing earrings and necklace

She won the National Film Award for Best Female Playback Singer for her rendition of the song "Porale Ponnuthayi" from the film Karuththamma. The song was composed by A. R. Rahman, under whose musical direction she recorded many memorable songs. Her distinctive voice, which could effortlessly reach high octaves, quickly made her a name to reckon with in the playback music industry.

Swarnalatha Telugu Hit Songs Jukebox | Swarnalatha Telugu Songs | Swarnalatha Telugu Old Songs

Personal life

Swarnalatha's tight lipped smile while wearing brown and cream dress and gold jewelries

She was born in the village Kizhakkaepparra near Athikkode near Chittur, Palakkad, Kerala, to K. C. Cherukutty and Tamil mother Kalyani. Swarnalatha had many brothers and sisters and was the last born of a big family of music lovers. Her father was a good harmonium player and singer. Her mother also had an interest in music. Swarnalatha was trained on the harmonium and keyboard. Swarnalatha's family later moved to Bhadravathi (Paper Town) in Shimoga District, where she had her education. Born in a family of musicians (father K. C. Cherukutty was a singer and harmonium player, while sister Saroja was her music guru initially), Swarnalatha took to music when she was in her teens.


On the left Swarnalatha's tight lipped smile while on the right is Swarnalatha's funeral

When Swarnalatha was still a child, her family moved to Chennai to seek film opportunities for her singing talent. The first opportunity came from M. S. Viswanathan in 1987, when she performed a duet with K. J. Yesudas, "Chinnanchirukiliye Kannamma" in the film Neethikku Thandanai. Subsequently, many other music directors approached her to perform their songs. She also had the opportunity to work with director P. Venu. She was recruited by legendary musicians like Ilaiyaraaja and A. R. Rahman. She also recorded a few Hindi songs, the most notable one being "Hai Rama Yeh Kya Hua" from Rangeela along with Hariharan.

Swarnalatha's big smile while wearing green dress and gold jewelries

In telugu, she recorded more songs in the music diresction of 'Vandemataram Srinivas' like andala maavori,yenakoche aavulara,akka akka,balocha etc,.

Article about Swarnalatha

She was noted as a versatile singer by A.R.Rahman. Mostly he used Swarnalatha in his movies due to extra ordinary voice. She was one of the most versatile singers of her times, as she was able to sing melodies like "Maalayil Yaaro Manathodu Pesa" from Sathriyan or "Porale Ponnuthayi" from Karuthamma as well as Rahman's experimental songs like "Mukkabla" from Kadhalan or "Mottu Vittadha" from Pavithra. Swarnalatha was the first female playback singer to fetch the National Award in A. R. Rahman's music for the song "Porale Ponnuthayi". Once in an interview, she said that she was moved to tears when she finished the recording of this song and received praise from A. R. Rahman. She recorded many other songs with music directors Deva, Vidyasagar, Harris Jayaraj, Anu Malik, Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy, Raj-Koti, Yuvan Shankar Raja, Mani Sharma, Hamsalekha and many others. She sang all the songs of Lata Mangeshkar and Shamshad Begum in the movie Anarkali (the Tamil dubbed version of the Hindi movie Mughal-e-Azam) and she was praised by the Bollywood music director Naushad Ali. And also in one interview she was asked what was the best moment in your lifetime? Is that during the National award session, asked by the Interviewer Setu. But nobody expected that she would say not that, but she said that she got appreciations by the legend Noushad ali ji (Hindi music composer) for the songs sung in Anarkali (dubbed version of Mughal-e-azam). Being a non native Hindi speaker her pronunciation in Hindi songs was exceptional unlike other prominent singers from South India who used to render Hindi songs.


Swarnalatha died at a private hospital in Chennai at the age of 37 due to cardiac arrest followed by interstitial lung disease (lung infection) after being admitted because she had difficulty in breathing. The singer had been undergoing treatment for lung infection for over a year and had not recorded for films during the period of infection.

Awards and recognitions

She got National Award from Government of India When she was 21 years old.She won Cinema Express Awards four times.

National Award (Silver Lotus Award)-(Rajat Kamal)

  • 1994 – National Film Award for Best Female Playback Singer for "Porale Ponnuthayi" from Karuththamma
  • Tamil Nadu State Awards

  • 1991 – Tamil Nadu State Film Award for Best Female Playback for "Povomma Oorkolam" from Chinna Thambi
  • 1994 – Tamil Nadu State Film Award for Best Female Playback for "Porale Ponnuthayi" from Karuththamma
  • 2000 – Tamil Nadu State Film Award for Best Female Playback for "Evano oruvan" from Alaipayuthey
  • Cinema Express Awards

  • 1991 – Best Female Playback Singer for "Povomma Oorkolam" from Chinna Thambi
  • 1995 – Best Female Playback Singer for "Muquala Muqapala" from Kadhalan
  • 1996 – Best Female Playback Singer for "Akkadannu nanga" from Indian
  • 1999 – Best Female Playback Singer for "Ulunthu vidaikayile" from Mudhalvan
  • Government Awards

  • 1994– Kalaimamani Award by the Government of Tamil Nadu for her contributions towards Tamil music.
  • 1995– Nandi Award by the Government of Andhra Pradesh for her contributions towards Telugu music.
  • Other awards

  • 2002 – The song "Rakkama Kaiya Thattu" from the movie Thalapathi (1991) was among the songs listed in a BBC World Top Ten music poll. It was performed by S. P. Balasubrahmanyam and Swarnalatha
  • In Ilaiyaraja's music

    The numbers based on the same tune 'Povomaa Oorkolam' and 'Nee Yengae Enn Anbae' from the film Chinnathambi were huge hits. Songs like these made Swarnalatha the singing voice of Khushbu who was ruling the roost as a Super Star for whom fans had built a temple. Government of Tamil Nadu honoured her with the award of Best Singer for the song 'Povomaa Oorkolam'.

    The song 'Raakkamma Kayyathattu' from the film Thalapathi figured in BBC's Hits List of world songs.


    Swarnalatha Wikipedia