Born in 1972 as Sujata, she is popular as Alisha Chinai (shortened to Alisha). She is also known as the "Indian Madonna" (she was first known as Babydoll but an image change later resulted in the "Madonna" moniker). A little known fact is that Sujata changed her name to that of her cousin's daughter Alisha (also Chinai) after she was born.
Chinai was discovered by veteran music director and composer Bappi Lahiri. They had many disco hits together in many films in the 1980s including Dance Dance, Commando, Guru, Love Love Love etc. When she started her career with him, she was doing playback singing for many actresses, such as Smita Patil, Mandakini, Sridevi, Juhi Chawla, Madhuri Dixit and Divya Bharati etc. In 1985, Alisha sang with Remo Fernandes in the album Old Goan Gold. The songs she sang in this album became very popular.
In the 90s, she took on working in different films, collaborating with other music directors, such as Anu Malik and Nadeem-Shravan.
Alisha (center) as a judge in Indian Idol-3 alongside Javed Akhtar & Udit NarayanThroughout these years, she had numerous Bollywood hit songs, including Tere Ishq Mein Nachenge (Raja Hindustani), Roundhe (Pyar Tune Kya Kiya), Sona Sona Roop Hai (Bollywood/Hollywood), and the controversial Mujhe Log Bole (Khud-daar).
Simultaneously with playback singing, she has recorded many songs as a pop singer, with album releases. Chinai was noted for her 1996 hit single and album, titled "Made in India", which contains another well-known song, "Lover Girl". However, her follow-up albums were less successful.
Alisha's comeback to film music was with the song "Oh My Darling" in the Yash Raj Film Mujhse Dosti Karoge. She then teamed up several times with Anu Malik after stating she would never work with him again in 1995, alleging that Anu Malik attempted to molest her.
In 2005, she had one of her highest career points came with the song Kajra Re (Bunty Aur Babli). The song was a hit and Alisha won her first Filmfare Best Female Playback Award.
Alisha received the 51st Filmfare Best Female Playback Award for the song "Kajra Re" from the film Bunty Aur Babli in the year 2005.
Alisha received the International Billboard Award around the time "Made in India" came out, and also won the Freddie Mercury Award for Artistic Excellence.
Internationally, Alisha received attention when her song "Seulement Vous" won first place at the International Song Festival "Asia 2004". It was the first victory for India in the Song Contest.