Highly accomplished Indian playback singer and occasional music composer, S. Janaki turned 83 today.

Sishtla Sreeramamurthy Janaki who is popularly known as S. Janaki is the profound playback singer that has sung more than 48,000 songs in 25 languages.

The 83-year-old Janaki, started her career in a Tamil film entitle Vidhiyin Vilayattu in 1957 itself by performing alongside PB Srinivas. Some call her “The Nightingale of the South”, is a recipient of an honorary doctorate from the University of Mysore and the Kalaimamani award from the Tamil Nadu State Government.

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Surprisingly, she has recorded songs in more than 17 regional Indian and foreign languages namely Kannada, Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu, Odiya, Hindi, Bengali, Tulu, Sanskrit, Sinhalese, Badaga, Punjabi, Urdu, Japanese, German, Latin and Arabic. 

Janaki started her legendary singing career around the age of 15 or 16 and the songstress has received four national and several state awards from the government after being in the field for the past 60 years. 

Who can forget her 90’s songs namely Malare Mounama (Karna, 1964), Sundari Kannaal (Thalapathi, 1991), Adi Aathadi (Kadalora Kavithaigal, 1986) and thousands more that seep through each phrase, defying her age?

In 2013, Janaki refused to accept the Padma Bhushan award, claiming that it has come too late for her five-and-a-half-decade career. Furthermore, she never believed in awards as the love that her fans showered is her biggest award. 

Janaki’s life and career are chronicled in Abhilash Pudukad’s book Aalpanathile Thenum Vayambum. Apart from that, she had the unique skill of shifting the base of her voice to different scales perfectly without a false note or a dent in her emotional expression. 

Janaki’s voice, which umpteen such hit numbers, has been synonymous with the folk song metaphor. There is much to cite, from Mudal Mariyaadhai’s “Raasaave Unnai Nambi” to Thevar Magan’s “Inji Iduppazhaga,” which won a National Award.

Happy birthday, S. Janakiamma!