Runa Laila (born 17 November 1952) is a Bangladeshi playback singer and composer. She is one of the best-known singers in South Asia. She started her career in Pakistan film industry in late 1960s. Her style of singing is inspired by Pakistani playback singer Ahmed Rushdi and she also made a pair with him after replacing another singer Mala. Her playback singing in films – The Rain (1976), Jadur Banshi (1977), Accident (1989), Ontore Ontore (1994), Devdas (2013) and Priya Tumi Shukhi Hou (2014) - earned her seven Bangladesh National Film Awards for Best Female Playback Singer. She won the Best Music Composer award for the film Ekti Cinemar Golpo (2018).
Laila was born in Sylhet to Syed Mohammed Imdad Ali, a civil servant posted in Karachi, and Amina Laila. She started taking dance lessons of Kathak and Bharatanatyam genre. In those days, Ahmed Rushdi was leading film music as he introduced hip-hop, rock n roll, disco and other modern genres in South Asian music and has since then been adopted in Bangladesh, India and lately Nepal as a pioneering influence in their respective pop cultures. Following Rushdi's success, Christian bands specialising in jazz started performing at various night clubs and hotel lobbies in Karachi, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Dhaka and Lahore. She became a fan of singer Ahmed Rushdi whom she considered her guru (teacher), and tried to emulate not only his singing style but also the way he used to perform on the stage. She then learned classical music with her elder sister Dina Laila (d. 1976). While she was a student of Saint Lawrence Convent, she won an inter-school singing competition in Karachi in the then West Pakistan. She, along with her sister, were trained by Ustad Abdul Kader Peyarang and Ustad Habibuddin Ahmed. Her cousin, Anjumara Begum, had already been a known singer. When Laila was 12, she performed as a playback singer for a male child actor in the Urdu language film Jugnu. The song was titled Gudia Si Munni Meri.
In 1966, Laila made her breakthrough in the Pakistani film industry with the song Unki Nazron Sey Mohabbat Ka Jo Paigham Mila for the Urdu film Hum Dono. She used to perform on PTV. In PTV, she had a show called Bazm E Laila. She started appearing on the Zia Mohyuddin Show (1972–74) and later sang songs for films in the 1970s such as the film Umrao Jaan Ada (1972).
Laila moved to Bangladesh along with her family in 1974. Her first Bengali song was O Amar Jibon Shathi for the film Jibon Shathi (1976), composed by Satya Saha. Shortly after had her first concert in India in 1974 in Mumbai. She started in Bollywood with director Jaidev, whom she met in Delhi, got her the chance to play at the inauguration of Doordarshan. She first worked with the music composer Kalyanji-Anandji for the title song of a film called Ek Se Badhkar Ek (1976). She gained popularity in India with the songs O Mera Babu Chail Chabila and Dama Dam Mast Qalandar. In 1974, she recorded Shaadher Lau in Kolkata. Laila's name has been written on the Guinness World Records for recording 30 songs within 3 days. In 1982, she won Golden Disk Award as her album Superuna composed by Bappi Lahiri was sold over 1 lakh copies on the first day of its release.
In October 2009, she released Kala Sha Kala, a collection of Punjabi wedding songs, in India. In 2012, Laila served as a judge on the show Sur Kshetra, an Indian television contest show for amateur singers. She described her relationship with fellow judge Asha Bhosle as that of sisters. In 2014, she collaborated with Sabina Yasmin on a song for a television play "Dalchhut Projapoti", the first time they worked on a song together.Runa has sung in seventeen languages including her native Bengali, Hindi, Urdu, Punjabi, Sindhi, Gujarati, Pashto, Baluchi, Arabic, Persian, Malay, Nepalese, Japanese, Italian, Spanish, French and English.