1 ‘Saathiya Tune Kya Kiya’ – Love (1991)
Chithra first emerged on the radar of Hindi film audiences in this remake of the Telugu film Prema (1989). Starring Salman Khan and Revathi, the film is mostly remembered today for the hit duet between Chithra and SP Balasubramaniam. The romantic number was written by Majrooh Sultanpuri and composed by Anand-Milind.
2 ‘Yeh Haseen Vadiya’ – Roja (1992)
For the Hindi version of Mani Ratnam’s Roja, newcomer AR Rahman brought together a host of voices on the hit soundtrack. Once again, Chithra and SP Balasubramaniam sang a romantic duet, written this time by PK Mishra, picturised on the lead pair, Arvind Swamy and Madhoo, in the scenic valleys of Kashmir. Rahman won the National award for Best Music Director, his first major National award.
3 ‘Kehna Hi Kya’ – Bombay (1995)
Arguably Chithra’s most famous Hindi song, ‘Kehna Hi Kya’ from the Hindi version of Bombay (1995) was listed in The Guardian's list of 1,000 Albums to Hear Before You Die, which praised the vocal arrangements. Chithra also sang the Tamil version of the song, ‘Kannalanae’, with Rahman. The Hindi lyrics were written by Mehboob and picturised on Manisha Koirala in the Mani Ratnam film.
4 ‘Ek Bagiya Mein (Ooh! la la la...)’ – Sapnay (1997)
AR Rahman, SP Balasubramaniam and KS Chithra were all singled out at the 1996 National awards for their outstanding work on Rajiv Menon’s musical film. Chithra, who won the Best Female Playback Singer for the Tamil version, ‘Manna Madurai (Ooh La La La)’, sang the number again in Hindi; the lyrics were written Javed Akhtar. ‘Ek Bagiya Mein’ was picturised on Kajol, Prabhu Deva and Nassar.
5 ‘Payalein Chunmun’ – Virasat (1997)
The next year, Chithra won the National award for Best Female Playback Singer again, but this time it was for a song sung in Hindi. Composed by Anu Malik, ‘Payalein Chunmun’ was one of the hits from Virasat’s soundtrack. However, Malik was heavily influenced by the original music composed by Ilaiyaraaja for Thevar Magan, the Tamil film on which Virasat was based.
6 ‘Jahan Piya Wahan Mein’ – Pardes (1997)
Her solo in Subhash Ghai’s Pardes emphasized the Indianness of Mahima Chaudhary’s character Ganga while she waits for her fiancé (Apoorva Agnihotri) to arrive from the USA. The hit number, which also featured Shah Rukh Khan as the third vertex of the love triangle, was composed by Nadeem-Shravan while the lyrics were written by Anand Bakshi.
7 ‘Tum Bin’ – Tum Bin (2001)
Anubhav Sinha’s Tum Bin starring Priyanshu Chatterjee, Sandali Sinha, Himanshu Malik and Raqesh Vashisth was a surprise hit at the start of the new millennium. This heartfelt yet sorrowful tune by Chithra was also successful as one of the dozen songs from the hit soundtrack composed by Nikhil-Vinay, Ravi Pawar and TS Jarnail. The title track was written by Pushpa Patel.
8 ‘Raat Ka Nasha’ – Asoka (2001)
Santosh Sivan’s historical drama on Mauryan emperor Asoka was a critical and financial disappointment for the filmmakers. However, the songs composed by Anu Malik were praised for their harmonies and picturisation. In ‘Raat Ka Nasha’, written by Gulzar, Chithra sings for Kareena Kapoor’s Kaurwaki who is pining away for Asoka (Shah Rukh Khan).
9 'Mere Dil Ka Tumse Hai Kehna' – Armaan (2003)
In Honey Irani’s hospital drama, Anil Kapoor finds himself in a complicated love triangle with Gracy Singh and Preity Zinta. Chithra’s solo, picturised on Zinta, was written by Irani’s ex-husband Javed Akhtar. All the songs of Armaan were composed by Shankar, Ehsaan and Loy.
10 ‘Koi Mil Gaya’ – Koi... Mil Gaya (2003)
Chithra returned as Preity Zinta’s voice for the title song in Rakesh Roshan’s Koi... Mil Gaya, the first in his sci-fi franchise series. The charming romantic duet was written by Dev Kohli and composed by Rajesh Roshan. Chithra sang ‘Koi Mil Gaya’ with Udit Narayan; the song was filmed in Canada and picturised on Zinta and Hrithik Roshan.
11 ‘Bani Bani Prem Diwani Bani’ – Main Prem Ki Diwani Hoon (2003)
Anu Malik used Chithra in seven out of the 11 songs in Main Prem Ki Diwani Hoon’s soundtrack. Chithra’s solo ‘Bani Bani Prem Diwani Bani’, written by Dev Kohli, was picturised as a stage number with Kareena Kapoor. Abhishek Bachchan and Hrithik Roshan were also part of the Rajshri film as Kapoor’s suitors, both named Prem.
12 ‘Raat Hamari Toh’ – Parineeta (2005)
In the latest adaptation of Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay’s novel, director Pradeep Sarkar cast Vidya Balan (in her first lead role) as Lolita. Chithra’s vocals bring great wistfulness to the song ‘Raat Hamari Toh’ in which Lolita prepares to say goodbye to Shekhar (Saif Ali Khan), the man she loves. Swanand Kirkire, who also wrote the lyrics, accompanied her in a portion of the song. The music was composed by Shantanu Moitra.