Udit Narayan Jha (उदित नारायण झा), popularly known as Udit Narayan is a playback singer in commercial Nepali, Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, and Kannada language cinema. Narayan has sung more than 15,000 songs in more than 20 different languages.
Udit Narayan was born in Bhardah, in Saptari district in the Terai plains of Nepal in 1955 . He received training from Pandit Dinkar Kaffini. He began his career by singing in Nepali, Maithili and Bhojpuri . He was initially denied a job at Radio Nepal . He sang folk songs for Radio Nepal throughout the early 1970s. In 1978, he moved to Mumbai on a music scholarship. In Mumbai, he was trained in Indian classical music for six years at the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan.
He got his first break in 1980, when noted music director (composer) Rajesh Roshan asked him to do a song for the Hindi film Unees Bees, in which he got opportunity to sing with his inspiration, Mohammed Rafi. However, the actual success story of his career began in 1988 with the successful Bollywood movie Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak, earning him a Filmfare Award. The film also brought actor Aamir Khan, actress Juhi Chawla and playback singer Alka Yagnik to stardom. After the success of Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak, he became one of the leading playback singers in the Indian film industry, lending his voice mostly in Aamir Khan movies like Dil, and Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikander. At the same time, he became a well-known celebrity in Nepal and sang in many popular Nepalese movies. He even acted in some Nepalese movies like Kusume Rumal and Pirati, but did not achieve that much success.
He has worked with musicians like Rahul Dev Burman, Jagjit Singh, Anu Malik, Jatin Lalit, Laxmikant-Pyarelal, Kalyanji-Anandji, Bappi Lahiri, Vishal Bhardwaj, A. R. Rahman, Nadeem-Shravan, Rajesh Roshan, Shankar Mahadevan, Himesh Reshammiya, Pritam Chakraborty, Vishal-Shekhar etc., and leading directors like Yash Chopra, Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Karan Johar, etc. These include Darr, Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, Dil To Pagal Hai, Mohabbatein, Devdas, Kal Ho Naa Ho, Swades, Veer Zaara, etc. Throughout the 1990s, he was one of the most successful singers in India. In 1995, his song "Mehndi Lagake Rakhna" from the movie Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge won him his second Filmfare Award after 7 years. The following year, he was nominated for three songs out of five and won his third National award for the song "Pardesi Pardesi" from Raja Hindustani.
Udit Narayan is considered one of the most prominent singers of his generation along with Kumar Sanu and Sonu Nigam. He has worked with musicians like Rahul Dev Burman, Jagjit Singh, Anu Malik, Jatin Lalit, Laxmikant-Pyarelal, Kalyanji-Anandji, Bappi Lahiri, Vishal Bhardwaj, and A. R. Rahman. Narayan has collaborated with a variety of singers, including Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhosle, Anup Jalota, and Pankaj Udhas.
His repertoire includes songs in Hindi, Marathi, Bengali, Gujarati, Oriya, Telugu, Tamil, English and Malayalam. At the same time, his discernible Nepalese accent and distinct pronunciation have been criticized by music critics who find it difficult to decipher words in his songs.
He has worked in Nepalese films as well, in particular for composer Shambhujeet Baskota. During his early singing career, he performed songs composed by Shiva Shankar, Natikaji and Gopal Yonzan. In 2004, he released his first private Nepalese album Upahaar, in which he also sang duets with his wife Deepa Jha. At the Hits FM Awards 2004 he won awards in two major categories for the album, Record of the Year and Album of the Year. Some of Narayan's other private albums are Bhajan Sangam, Bhajan Vatika, I love You, Dil Deewana, Yeh Dosti, Love is Life, Jhumka de Jhumka, Sona No Ghadulo, Dhuli Ganga, and Ma Tarini.
Narayan has performed in many stage shows in India and abroad and is the recipient of a large number of awards. These include Screen Videocon Award, MTV Best Video Award and Pride of India Gold Award.