Anuradha Paudwal is one of the most talented playback singers in the history of Hindi films and perhaps one of the most controversial artistes. Her career started with the film Abhimaan starring Amitabh and Jaya Bachchan, the music director was S. D. Burman, though Lata Mangeshkar claims that Anuradha was given a break by her brother Hridhaynath Mangeshkar for a Marathi film. But it was Burmandada's film that got her the recognition of a singer.
Anuradha Paudwal was a student of Xavier's college who participated in the college's cultural programmes, but she did not have a background of film music. She married Arun Paudwal who was the music arranger of S. D. Burman.
In 1976 Anuradha got her big break for the film Kailcharan starring Shatrugan Sinha and Reena Roy. This Subhash Ghai film had music by Rajesh Roshan. Her first solo number was for the film Aap Beeti starring Hema Malini and ShashiKapoor and music by Laxmikant-Pyarelal, Anuradha Paudwal got some good numbers from the duo who were churning out hits one after the other. She also sang intermittently for other music directors such as Rajesh Roshan (Des Pardes), Jaidev (Dooriyan, Laila Majnu), Kalyanji-Anandji (Kalaakar, Vidhataa) and Usha Khanna (Souten, Sajan Bina Suhagan). Meanwhile her husband Arun Paudwal in the pair of Anil-Arun gave many hit numbers in Marathi films for which Anuradha sang some resplendent numbers in Marathi like Disatein Mazlaa (Ashtavinayak), Raja Lalkaari, Kaalya Maatita Maatitaa, etc.
Anuradha Paudwal became a singer to reckon with when she rendered some exceptional numbers for the film Hero, music by Laxmikant-Pyarelal. Her song for Mere Mann Bajaa Mirang Utsav won her the first Filmfare award in 1985.
She also came into focus when she challenged Lata Mangeshkar's claim to having recorded the maximum number of songs in a single day. She also accused the Mangeshkar sisters for indulging in monopoly. This outspoken nature at times landed her in trouble as the music directors of the industry feared to face the wrath of Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhonsle and they often avoided Anuradha Paudwal. Many a times Anuradha's songs were dubbed by Lata such as Main Teri Dushman (Nagina) and many such songs.
Since her career was not making any headway, she joined hands with Gulshan Kumar who was about to bring a revolution in the music industry. Her success streak began from the film Lal Dupatta Malmal Ka, Tezaab, Ashiqui, Meera Ka Mohan, Dil Hai Ke Manta Nahin , Ram Lakhan, etc. Her success in a way set a trend for the singers, such as Kavita Krishnamurthy, Alka Yagnik and Sadhana Sargam, who started getting better songs to sing and through T-series Anuradha Paudwal brought the playback singers into focus. Her new found status also got her involved in some controversies like dubbing songs of her contemporaries' (the infamous dubbing of Alka Yagnik's songs of the films Dil and more recently Itihaas), also her much rumoured affair with Gulshan Kumar. Her dominance in the T-series had fueled the rumours.
Despite the controversies, Paudwal continued to conquer new horizons and winning accolades (Anuradha has won three Filmfare awards in a row for Aashiqui, Dil Hai Ki Manta Nahin and Beta). She was on the verge of being the next Lata Mangeshkar. Even the legendary composer O P Nayyar commented, "Lata is finished, Anuradha has replaced her." During this period, everything seemed to be working for the singer who left her contemporaries far behind. Kavita Krishnamurthy has always stated that, "Among my counterparts (Alka Yagnik, Kavita Krishnamurthy, Sadhana Sargam, etc.) Anuradha is the best singer." At her peak Anuradha Paudwal announced that she would exclusively sing for T-series only. This stand benefited Alka Yagnik who just zoomed to the top with her newfound association with Nadeem-Shravan and Anu Malik, who had stopped composing for Gulshan Kumar due to some differences. As she stopped singing songs for films and concentrated more on devotional and cover-version albums, she harmed her immensely successful career. For almost five years, Anuradha Paudwal did not sing for many films and for any other music company.
It is only recently that she started rendering songs for companies outside T-series. After the brutal murder of Gulshan Kumar, her hold over T-series diminished. Anuradha Paudwal has started singing outside T-series and met with lukewarm response. So far she has given a few hits like 'Kismat Se Tum'(Pukar), 'Akeli Hai Yeh Mis Khiladi' (Mr & Mrs Khiladi), 'Zara Aankhon Se Kajal' (Hum Aapke Dil Mein Rehtein Hai), 'Chaha Hai Tujhko' (Mann) and 'Jogiya' (Deewane). But only time will tell if this talented crooner can regain her past glory. Yes she was on the verge of becoming next Lata ....