Mahalakshmi Iyer is an Indian playback singer, who has sung songs in various Indian languages like Hindi, Tamil, Odia, Marathi, and Bengali. She is known for being one of the singers of the song Jai Ho from the British drama film Slumdog Millionaire (2008) for which she won a Grammy Award in 2010.
Mahalakshmi Iyer was born on Sunday, 11 July 1976 (age 46 years; as of 2022) in Bombay (now Mumbai), Maharashtra, India. Her zodiac sign is Cancer. She completed her schooling at St. Xavier’s College in Mumbai, where she learnt how to read and write Urdu. She scored 74% in class 12. Later, she enrolled at the R. N. Podar College of Economics, where she completed her graduation. Rediff.com In an interview, Mahalakshmi Iyer said that she was not eligible for admission into the college as the cut-off was closed at 76%, but she managed to join the college after she presented her music certificates to the college authorities. Mid-Day Talking about it, in an interview, she said,
I had scored around 74 per cent, and to get into Podar you needed 76. It was because of my singing that I got through; every winning certificate I had was given value to make up for the marks. Once in college, I took part in various competitions. In junior college, I fought to participate in Malhar (at St Xavier’s) as our college was only sending seniors.”
Mahalakshmi Iyer began learning to sing at an early age. She learned singing from musicians like Pandit Gautam Madhusudan, Pandit Ratan Mohan Sharma, and Pandit Govind Prasad Jaipurwale. Despite her mother being a Carnatic vocalist, her parents wanted her to learn Hindustani classical music. She trained in Hindustani classical music but did not secure any Visharad.
Height (approx.): 5′ 5″
Hair Colour: Black
Eye Colour: Dark Brown
Mahalakshmi Iyer was born into a Tamil Hindu-Brahmin family.
Parents & Siblings
Her father’s name is Krishnamurthy Iyer (deceased). Her mother, Vijaya Lakshmi Iyer, was a Carnatic vocalist.
She has four sisters. Her sister Kalpana Iyer is the eldest sibling. Her sister Padmini Roy is a singer. Her sister Shobha Ramamoorthy is a singer. Her sister Kavita Krishnamurthy is a singer. Mahalakshmi is the youngest among her four sisters.
Mahalakshmi Iyer follows Hinduism.
Mahalakshmi began her singing career with short songs (aka Jingles) for advertisements. She recorded her first jingle in Malayalam for a saree brand called Amitex Sarees while she was in the second year of her graduation. Mahalakshmi said in an interview that she secured the opportunity to sing her first jingle after a professional musician noticed her performance at the college fest and recommended her name to the producers. While talking about it, she said,
I was singing in college festivals quite regularly. Some of the musicians who came and played at our college were also professionals who were working in the film, music and advertising industry. One of them said that somebody was looking for a new voice and asked me if he could suggest my name to the producers. I happily agreed. At that time, I had no experience of recording in a studio.”
Mahalakshmi Iyer has also sung jingles for several ads in French and Russian languages.
Mahalakshmi Iyer worked with Shankar Mahadevan and lent her voice to the theme song of the TV show Ek Se Badh Kar Ek, which was aired on DD National in 1995. In 2000, she gave her voice to the DD National Hindi TV serial Kasamm. Other Hindi TV serials to which she lent her voice include Main Teri Dulhann (2006), Miley Jab Hum Tum (2008), and Aapki Antara (2009). In the same year, she gave her voice to a Marathi soap opera titled Majhiya Priyala Preet Kalena. In 2013, Mahalakshmi Iyer worked with Udit Narayan and voiced the theme song “Ek dil banaaya, phir pyar basaaya” from the TV show Jhilmil Sitaaron Ka Aangan. She sang the theme song for the 2017 Hindi TV serial Aarambh: Kahaani Devsena Ki. Mahalakshmi Iyer lent her voice to the theme song of a 2021 Marathi TV serial titled Aggabai Sunbai.
Films and Music Albums
Mahalakshmi Iyer sang Shankar-Ehsan-Loy composed Suno Gaur Se Duniya Walo for the 1997 film Dus. The film’s release was delayed due to the sudden death of the film’s director; however, the album, containing the song, was released in 1999 as a tribute to the director. Mahalakshmi lent her voice to the 1998 film “Dil Se..” In the same year, she worked alongside Udit Narayan in the film “Pyaar Mein Kabhi Kabhi” and voiced two tracks titled Tumne Na Humse and Dil Se Mere. In 1998, she rendered her voice to the film Ahista, along with Pankaj Udhas. In 2000, she rendered her voice for the album Sparsh. In 2002, she lent her voice to several films like Rishtey, Saathiya, and Yeh Kya Ho Raha Hai? In the same year, she voiced the songs in an album titled Dance Masti Again. In 2005, she worked with singers like Sonu Nigam, Shaan, Sunidhi Chauhan, and Sowmya Raoh in films such as Bunty Aur Babli, Waqt: The Race Against Time, Dus, and Neal ‘n’ Nikki. In 2006, she not only sang the Hindi version of Dhoom 2’s song Dil Laga Na but also dubbed the song into Tamil and Telugu. In 2006, she lent her voice to Fanaa’s tracks Des Rangila and Chanda Chamke. In the same year, she sang alongside Shaan and Shankar Mahadevan in Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna’s track Rock N’ Roll Soniye. In the 2007 film Jhoom Barabar Jhoom, Mahalakshmi gave her voice for two tracks Bol Na Halke Halke and Jhoom Barabar Jhoom. She worked with Shaan in the 2010 film Khichdi: The Movie. Mahalakshmi Iyer sang in the 2011 film Patiala House with Hard Kaur and Jassi Sidhu in the songs Laung da Lashkara and Rola Pe Gaya. She lent her voice to Khud Ko Tere, a track from the 2012 film 1920: Evil Returns. In 2014, she lent her voice to a “2 States” soundtrack titled Isayin Alai and won an award for it. In 2019, she worked as a playback singer in the film Gone Kesh and lent her voice to the song Beimani Se. In the same year, she dubbed Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi’s songs in Tamil and Telugu.
In 2008, she worked as a vocalist in the British Drama film Slumdog Millionaire. She lent her voice to the A. R. Rahman-composed track Jai Ho, which won a Grammy award.
Mahalakshmi Iyer lent her voice to Zubeen Garg-composed 1996 albums Zubeenor Gaan and Rong. In 1998, she worked as a playback singer on the albums Meghor Boron and Xabda. The albums were composed by Zubeen Garg. In the 2001 film Nayak, she lent her voice to three songs Lahe Lahe, Kinu Xuria, and Mon Gahanot. She lent her voice to Xamayor Lagote, a track from the 2012 film Ekhon Nedekha Nodir Xhipare. In 2016, she sang Xaliki Puwar for the film Gaane Ki Aane. She lent her voice to the 2017 album Nijaanor Gaan’s track Dure Dure Tumi.
She worked with Hariharan and lent her voice to the 1998 film Poonthottam’s track Meethaatha Oru Veenai. In 1999, she sang several songs composed by A. R. Rahman for the films Jodi, Mudhalvan, and Alaipayuthey. In 2002, she worked with singers like Hariharan, Shankar Mahadevan, and Srinivas in films like Pammal K. Sambandam, King, and Raja. She worked with K. K. in several 2003 films like Dum, Jay Jay, and Success. In 2013, she sang Mayanga, a dubbed Tamil version of Dhoom 3’s song Malang.
Mahalakshmi Iyer lent her voice to Nelluri Nerajana, composed by A. R. Rahman, for the 1999 film Oke Okkadu, a Telugu version of the Tamil film Mudhalvan. In 2000, she worked as a playback singer in several films like Priyuralu Pilichindi, Sakutumba Saparivaara Sametam, and Ammo! Okato Tareekhu. In 2007, she dubbed Ta Ra Ram Pum and Hey Shonaa Hey Shonaa, the songs of the Bollywood film Ta Ra Rum Pum, in Telugu. She lent her voice to Abbacha, composed by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy, for the 2009 film Konchem Ishtam Konchem Kashtam.
Mahalakshmi Iyer worked as a playback singer in several 2012 Bengali films like Khokababu, Bikram Singha, Idiot, and Khoka 420. In 2018, she lent her voice to Mon E Kemon, a track from the film Wrong Route. Later, she sang Raja Rani Raji’s Ja Hobe Dekha with Shaan.
Mahalakshmi Iyer lent her voice to Mala Sang Na, a 2011 film Sharyat’s track. In 2015, she worked as a playback singer in several Marathi films like Kaay Raav Tumhi, Timepass 2, Welcome Zindagi, and 3:56 Killari. In 2018, she lent her voice to Halwa Halwa, a track from the film Jaga Vegli Antyatra. In November 2022, she worked as a playback singer in the film Bebhan. Mahalakshmi Iyer has sung songs in many other Indian languages.
In 2021, she lent her voice to a Gujarati film 21mu tiffin and won an award at the Rajasthan Film Festival for it.
In 2018, she received Odisha State Award for singing songs in the Odia film Mimamsa.
Awards, Honours, Achievements
- For her album Brindavan, Mahalakshmi Iyer received a silver medal from the Global Music Awards in December 2022.
- In November 2022, Mahalakshmi Iyer received an award at the Rajasthan Film Festival for best playback singer for Raah Jue Shangar Adhuro, a track from the Gujarati film 21mu Tiffin.
- In March 2022, Mahalakshmi Iyer received Top Music Award for 21mu Tiffin’s song Raah Jue Shangar Adhuro in the Best Playback Singer Female category.
- She received the Gujarat Iconic Film Award for the film 21mu Tiffin in 2021.
- In November 2021, she received an Honourary Doctorate from the Nelson Mandela Noble Peace Award committee. The degree is accredited by Harvard University and is affiliated with Cambridge University.
- In 2018, she won the Odisha State Award in the Best Playback Singer Female category for her song Dheu Kere Kule from the film Mimamsa.
- Mahalakshmi Iyer won the Jury Prize at Mirchi Music Award in 2015 for the film 2 States.
- In 2014, Mahalakshmi Iyer won the Maharashtra State Award in the Best Playback Singer Female category for her song Datale Dhuke from the film Timepass.
- Mahalakshmi Iyer received the Alpha Award in the Best Playback Singer category for her song in the film Adhar.
- She received the Grammy Award as a Vocalist on the recording of the song Jai Ho from Slumdog Millionaire in 2010.
- In 2009, Mahalakshmi Iyer won the World Soundtrack Award for her track Jai Ho from the film Slumdog Millionaire.
- Singer: Lata Mangeshkar, Michael Jackson
- Band: The Beatles
- Sport: Cricket
- Cricketer: Sachin Tendulkar
- Song: Mera Kuch Samaan from Ijaazat, Kuch Dil Ne Kaha from Anupama
- Her name is also spelt as Mahalaxmi.
- Mahalakshmi Iyer is a polyglot and can fluently speak Hindi, English, Tamil, and Bengali.
- In an interview, Mahalakshmi Iyer said that during her early career days, she was not paid well and had only Rs 5,000 in her Canara bank account. She said,
I had an account with Canara Bank with around ₹5,000. We used to get paid very little back then for the jingles. I turned over all banking responsibility to my father. Whenever I needed money, I would just ask him as there were no credit cards back then.”
- While talking about her bucket list, Mahalakshmi Iyer said that she wants to do bungee jumping and para-diving. She further said that she wants to read books and wishes to have a room full of books; however, due to a tight schedule, she is unable to fulfil her desires.
- In an interview, Mahalakshmi Iyer said that she did not adopt her father’s name as her surname as she did not want people to recognize her because of her elder sister Kavita Krishnamurthy and draw comparisons. Talking about it, she said,
My dad’s name is Krishnamurthy. I did not use that as my surname. Somehow Iyer stuck with me. And, I did not want the ‘Oh, are you Kavita Krishnamurthy’s sister?’ comparison.”
- Mahalakshmi Iyer delivered a speech at TEDx in 2014.