Usha Uthup

Usha Uthup

Usha Uthup at Toshali National Crafts Mela, Bhubaneswar, Odisha, 2012
Background information
Birth name Usha Vaidyanath Someshwar Sami
Also known as Didi
Born (1947-11-07) 7 November 1947
Mumbai, India[1]
Genres Pop
Occupation(s) Singer, playback singer
Instruments Vocalist
Years active 1966–present
Website Official website

Usha Uthup (born 7 November 1947)[2] is an Indian pop, jazz and playback singer who sang songs in the late 1960s, 1970s and 1980s.[3][4] Darling, which she recorded with Rekha Bhardwaj for the film 7 Khoon Maaf, won the Filmfare Award for Best Female Playback Singer in 2012.

Uthup sang in Chris Perry's Konkani album Chris Perry Presents Usha – 'Meu Amor' .[10]

Usha was born in Mumbai.[1] Her father was Vaidyanath Someshwar Sami[5] who hailed from Madras (now Chennai), in Tamil Nadu in 1947.

She studied at St. Agnes High School (Clare Road,Byculla). When she was in school she was thrown out of music class because she didn't fit in with a voice like hers. But her music teacher recognised that she had some music in her and would give her clappers or triangles to play. Even though she was not formally trained in music, she grew up in an atmosphere of music. Her parents used to listen to a wide range from Western classical to Hindustani and Carnatic including Kishori Amonkar and Bade Ghulam Ali Khan on radio and she used to join them.[6] She used to enjoy listening to Radio Ceylon.

Her next door neighbour was S.M.A. Pathan, who was then the deputy commissioner of police. His daughter, Jamila, influenced Usha to learn Hindi and take up Indian classical music. This fusion approach helped her to pioneer her unique brand of Indian pop in the 1970s. She is married to Mr Jani Uthup from Kottayam, Kerala.

She is presently a resident of Kolkata, West Bengal.


Her first public singing occurred when she was nine. Her sisters who were already exploring a music career, took her to the most popular radio announcer in India that time called Ameen Sayani who gave her an opportunity to sing on the Ovaltine Music Hour in Radio Ceylon. She sang a number called "Mockingbird Hill". After that, several appearances followed through her teenage years.

Singing career

Usha Uthup started singing in a small nightclub in Chennai called as Nine Gems in the basement of the erstwhile Safire theatre complex on Mount Road,[7] when she was 20, wearing a saree and leg callipers. Her performance was so well received that the owner of the nightclub asked her to stay on for a week.[8] After her first night club gig, she began singing in Calcutta at night clubs such as "Trincas". She met her future husband Uthup in Trincas. At about the same time, she also sang at "Talk of the Town", now known as "Not Just Jazz by the Bay" in Bombay (now Mumbai).[9] After Trincas, her next engagement took her to Delhi where she sang at the Oberoi hotels. By happenstance, a film crew belonging to Navketan unit including Shashi Kapoor visited the nightclub and they offered her a chance to sing movie playback. As a result, she started her Bollywood career with Hare Rama Hare Krishna. Originally, she was supposed to sing Dum Maro Dum along with Asha Bhosle. However, as a result of internal politicking on the part of other singers, she lost that chance but ended up singing an English verse.

In 1968, she recorded covers of two pop songs in English, "Jambalaya" and The Kingston Trio's "Greenback Dollar", on an EP, Love Story, and "Scotch and Soda", another Kingston Trio song, which sold very well in the Indian market. She also spent some time in London during this early period. She was a frequent visitor to Vernon Corea's BBC office at the Langham in London and was interviewed on London Sounds Eastern on BBC Radio London. Usha visited Nairobi as part of an Indian festival. She was so popular that she was invited to stay on. Singing and quite often nationalistic songs in Swahili made her extremely popular and the then President Jomo Kenyatta made her an Honorary Citizen of Kenya. She sang the famous song "Malaika" (angel) with Fadhili Williams who was the original singer. She produced a record "live in Nairobi" with a local band Fellini Five.

Uthup sang several songs in the 1970s and 1980s for music directors R D Burman and Bappi Lahiri. She also reprised some of R.D. Burman songs that were sung by others such as Mehbooba Mehbooba and Dum Maro Dum and popularised them to a distinct end.

Uthup also sang for a two-volume collection of children's rhymes "Karadi Rhymes", which are "Indian Rhymes for Indian Kids", brought out by Karadi Tales ( The rhymes reflect the Indian ethos through the Sa-re-ga-ma, mangoes, Indian rivers, the train experiences, Indian festivals, indigenous trees, Cricket, Indian foods like bhelpuri and sambhar, Indian attire like the dhoti, sari, bindi and bangles and even some folk tales. With each rhyme set to an Indian raga, and sung in her characteristic voice with a feisty tempo, Usha creates the atmosphere for children and, surprisingly, even adults to sing along and dance to the toe-tapping beats.

She appeared as a judge on a singing reality show Bharat Ki Shaan: Singing Star – Season 2 (2012), aired on DD National channel, along with Ismail Darbar. She is the judge in the Season 3 of the show as well. She also appeared as a chief guest for Marathi singing reality show . She entertained the audience with Marathi songs.


Some of her famous songs for movies (and associated music directors) include:

Song Movie Year Composer Language
"Race gurram" Race Gurram 2014 S. Thaman Telugu
"Ramba main Samba" Shirin Farhad Ki Toh Nikal Padi 2012 Jeet Ganguly Hindi
"Aami Shotti Bolchi" Kahaani 2012 Vishal–Shekhar Hindi
"Yeh Raat Mona Lisa" Kaafiron Ki Namaaz 2012 Advait Nemlekar Hindi
"Hai Ye Maya" Don 2 2011 Shankar–Ehsaan–Loy Hindi
"Viriyunnu" Bombay March 12 2011 Afzal Yusuf Malayalam
"Darling", "Doosri Darling" (with Rekha Bhardwaj) 7 Khoon Maaf (Filmfare Award for best playback singer) 2011 Vishal Bhardwaj Hindi
"Wicket Bacha" (with Earl) Hattrick 2007 Pritam Hindi
"Teri Meri Merry Christmas" Bow barracks Forever 2007 Anjun Dutt Hindi
"Vaave Makane" Pothan Vava 2006 Alex Paul Malayalam
"Kabhi Pa Liya Tho Kabhi Kho Diya" Jogger's Park 2003 Tabun Hindi
"Din Hai Na Ye Raat" Bhoot 2003 Salim-Sulaiman Hindi
"Vande Mataram" Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham 2001 Jatin-Lalit, Sandesh Shandilya, Aadesh Shrivastav Hindi
"Raja Ki Kahani" Godmother 1999 Vishal Bhardwaj Hindi
"Daud" Daud 1998 A. R. Rahman Hindi
"Mafia" Mafia 1994 Anand-Milind Malayalam
"Uri Uri Baba" Dushman Devta 1991 Bappi Lahiri Hindi
"Vegam Vegam Pogum Pogum" Anjali 1991 Ilaiyaraaja Tamil
"Keechurallu" Keechurallu 1991 Ilaiyaraaja Telugu
"Koi Yahan Aha Nache Nache" Disco Dancer 1982 Bappi Lahiri Hindi
"Ramba" Armaan 1981 Bappi Lahiri Hindi
"Hari Om Hari" Pyaara Dushman 1980 Bappi Lahiri Hindi
"Tu Mujhe Jaan Se Bhi Pyara Hai" Wardat 1981 Bappi Lahiri Hindi
"Doston Se Pyar Kiya" Shaan 1980 R D Burman Hindi
"Shaan Se..." Shaan 1980 R D Burman Hindi
"Ek Do Cha Cha Cha" Shalimar 1978 R D Burman Hindi
"Love is beautiful" Melnaattu Marumagal 1975 Kunnakudi Vaidyanathan Tamil
"Love Is Just Around The Corner" Chattakkari 1974 G. Devarajan Malayalam

In addition, she has also sung as a playback singer for the following Bollywood movies: Revolver Rani (2014), Dhol (2007), June R (2005), Joggers' Park (2003), Jajantaram Mamantaram (2003), Ek Tha Raja (1996), Dushman Devta (1991), Bhavani Junction (1985), Hum Paanch (1980), and Purab Aur Pachhim (1970) among others.[10]

She is a stage performer and gave performances all over the world and is known for her lively stage presence. She has been felicitated with several awards over the years, some of which include Rajiv Gandhi Purashkar for National Integration for quality music, Mahila Shiromani Purashkar for international peace, and Channel [V] award for outstanding achievement.


She recorded her first album with Luis Banks for which she was paid Rs. 3500. Since then, she has recorded numerous albums. Usha's Hindi version of Michael Jackson's "Don't Stop Til You Get Enough", titled "Chhupke Kaon Aya", can be found on the album Tom Middleton – The Trip (2004). A cover of Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive" is on another Tom Middleton album, Cosmosonica – Tom Middleton Presents Crazy Covers Vol. 1 (2005). She recorded a song called "Rhythm and Blues" with the Indian rock band Parikrama which appeared on Channel V on 23 April 2007.

Other activities

She always keeps on encouraging sports in India. She supports KKR in indian premiere league (IPL) and can be seen in KKR matches which are held at Eden gardens kolkata.

Acting career

Year Title Role Language
1975 Melnaattu Marumagal-----Tamil
2006 Pothan VavaKurisuveettil Mariamma Malayalam
Bombay to goaHerselfHindi
2007Bow Barracks Forever'HerselfEnglish
2010 Manmadan Ambu Indira Tamil
2011 7 Khoon Maaf Maggie Aunty (Maid) Hindi
2012 Parie Kannada
Ideal Couple Sophy Malayalam
2014 X Hindi

Uthup is also an actress. In 2006, she acted in the Malayalam movie Pothan Vava as Kurisuveettil Mariamma.

She made a cameo appearance in the movie Bombay To Goa. In 2007, she appeared in Bow Barracks Forever directed by Anjun Dutt as herself. Again in 2007, she appeared in Hattrick music video as herself.

She appeared in disguise on Indian Idol 1 and 2. She was one of the co-judges of the 2007 and 2008 and Idea Star Singer Season V (2010).

She has a minor role in the 2010 Tamil movie Manmadan Ambu.

She also acted in Vishal Bhardwaj's 7 Khoon Maaf as a maid. She has also sung a song in the film which released on 18 February 2011. In 2012, she has starred in a Kannada film Parie.


Year Title Role Channel Language
2004-2005Indian Idolappeared in disguiseSonyHindi
2007Star SingerJudgeAsianetMalayalam
2012Bharat Ki Shaan: Singing Star – Season 2DoordarshanHindi
Gaurav MaharashtrachaETV MarathiMarathi
Kuyil patuKalaignar TVTamil
2013Bharat Ki Shaan: Singing Star – Season 3DoordarshanHindi
2015The Voice (Indian TV series)Guest&TVHindi
Badai BunglowAsianetMalayalam
2016Phir asar gaanJudgeStar JalshaBengali

Personal life

She is married to Jani Chacko Uthup who is originally from Manarcad Painumkal family of Kottayam, and was formerly married to the late Ramu Iyer. They have a daughter Anjali and a son Sunny, named after the song, "Sunny".[11]



  1. 1 2 "PROFILE: My bad girl voice". Tehelka. Vol 8, Issue 8, Dated 26 February 2011. Check date values in: |date= (help)
  2. "Original diva of Indi-pop". Retrieved 7 September 2013.
  3. "I'm thrilled beyond comprehension: Usha Uthup". The Times of India. 26 January 2011.
  4. "Usha Uthup".
  5. "Midnight's Children". Hindustan Times. 14 August 2012.
  6. Tea, croissants and Usha Uthup! The Hindu, 4 December 2003.
  7. "Padma Shri is icing on cake for Usha Uthup". The Times of India. 2 February 2011.
  8. "'I am completely a people's person...' – Usha Uthup". Retrieved 28 April 2011.
  9. "It's a full circle for Usha Uthup". Retrieved 28 April 2011.
  10. "Before Darrrling, Usha Uthup sang these hit songs!". Movies. 17 February 2011.
  11. "It's a full circle for Usha Uthup". MiD DAY. 11 August 2010.
  12. "Usha Uthup, Girish Kasaravalli to get Padma Shri | TopNews". 25 January 2011. Retrieved 13 March 2012.
  13. 1st Filmfare Awards 1953
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