Pulapaka Susheela (born November 13, 1935) is an Indian playback singer associated with the South Indian cinema for over six decades. She has been recognized by both the Guinness Book of World Records and the Asia Book of Records for singing most number of songs in Indian languages. She is also the recipient of five National Film Award for Best Female Playback Singer and numerous state awards. Susheela is widely acclaimed as a singer who defined feminism in South Indian cinema and is well known for her mellifluous vocal performances for over 40,000 film songs across South Indian languages.
The song "Paal Polave" from Tamil film Uyarndha Manidhan brought her the first ever award at the 16th National Film Awards, by winning her the National Film Award for Best Female Playback Singer, also making it the first Tamil film to win a National Award under that category. She is fondly called "Gana Kokila" and "Gana Saraswathi". She is also considered as one of the rich voiced singers whose pronunciation of the syllables to be more clear and precise in any of the languages she sang. In a career spanning more than six decades, she has recorded nearly 40,000 songs in various Indian languages including Telugu, Tamil, Kannada, Malayalam, Hindi, Bengali, Oriya, Sanskrit, Tulu and Badaga. She has also sung for Sinhalese films. Her mother tongue is Telugu. She can also speak Tamil, fluent Hindi, and a little Kannada.
Susheela was born in Andhra Pradesh, India, as the daughter of Pulapaka Mukunda Rao, a leading advocate in Vizianagaram, Vizianagaram District, Andhra Pradesh State. She is married to Dr. Mohan Rao; they have a son named Jayakrishna and two granddaughters named Jayashree and Shubashree. Her daughter-in-law, Sandhya Jayakrishna, is a singer who debuted with A. R. Rahman in Iruvar
After completion of schooling, Susheela joined in Maharaja's Music College under the tutelage of Dwaram Venkataswamy Naidu who was the Principal, Vizianagaram, and completed Diploma in Music from Andhra University in First Class at a very early age.
P. Susheela went on to become one of the most successful playback singers of south India from 1950 to 1990.