Anuradha Paudwal - the Lata-challenging queen of the 1980s’ - was born on October 27, 1954 into a strict family. As a child she always loved to sing, but was known to have a hoarse voice and was considered unfit for singing. Her earliest memories include listening to songs of Lata Mangeshkar and wishing in vain that the same voice would come out of her throat.
It was after a bout of pneumonia when she was nine years old that her voice changed and was no longer hoarse or unpleasant. This is an event that she herself considered a miracle! Though she never could receive formal training in classical music, she practice singing Lata Mangeshkar’s songs and reciting ‘slokas’ from the ‘Bhagvat Geeta’ all by herself.
When all of eighteen, she married Arun Paudwal who often assisted famed music director S.D. Burman. It was for Burman’s film “Abhimaan” (1973) that Arun Paudwal recorded a dummy using her voice. A “Shiva Stuti” this song was to be recorded in Lata Mangeshkar’s voice, but Burman was so pleased with her voice that he used it in the film. Her first solo full-length song was in the film “Kalicharan” (1976). All through the 1970s’ and early 1980s’ she sang with the most well known composers and even won the Filmfare Award for Best Female Playback Singer for the 1984 film “Utsav.” She got noticed also for lending her voice to “Keh Do Ki Tum” from “Tezaab” (1988).
A huge turning point in her career came when she joined hands with Gulshan Kumar and became a resident recording artiste with T Series. The film “Aashiqui” (1990) brought with it eight songs sung by Anuradha Paudwal, all to Nadeem-Shravan’s tunes. The film scored high on music and was declared a huge commercial success. For the song “Nazar Ke Saamne” from this film, she bagged another Filmfare Award. She scored another few aces with “Dil Hai Ki Maanta Nahi” (1991) the nest year and “Beta” (1992) the year next to that. This was also the time when she pledged exclusivity to Gulshan Kumar and the T Series - a career move that proved to be her undoing. In the beginning, she was rather successful, with a few hits like “Bahut Pyar Karte Hain” from “Saajan” (1991) as well as a number of devotional music albums. But her having pledged to sing only for Gulshan Kumar opened the doors for Alka Yagnik, making her the preferred choice for the voice of the principal female character. Also, after Gulshan Kumar was assassinated, T Series never remained the same and Anuradha Paudwal lost out before she could even carve out her career. During the 2000s’, she sang for films like “Pukar” (2000), “Hum Tumhare Hain Sanam” (2002) and most notably “Paap” (2004).
Anuradha Paudwal has always maintained that Lata Mangeshkar is her idol. Her admiration for the ‘nightingale’ has not, however, blunted her strong criticism of the latter. She has often accused Lata Mangeshkar of having treated her late husband Arun Paudwal very shabbily, even refusing to work when he was around. Arun Paudwal passed away in 1991, leaving his wife with a daughter and a son.