Sun, 20 Oct 2013 13:00:00 GMT | By PTI

Malayalam music legend K Raghavan no more

Renowned music director K Raghavan, who brought originality and local flavour to Malayalam cinema music, in a career spanning over five decades, died in a hospital on Saturday. He was 99.


Malayalam music legend K Raghavan no more (© Getty Images)

Raghavan was unwell for some time and was admitted to the co-operative Hospital in his hometown Thalassery in north Kerala few days back, family sources said.

Known as Raghavan Master among colleagues and fans, he did not copy Hindi and Tamil tunes.

A self-taught, self-made man, he drew on the great fund of ballads of north Kerala, folk music and 'Mappila songs' and also the beat of performing traditions like 'theyyam' and 'kolkkali' of the Malabar region.

Raghavan shot to fame with the 1950s hit 'Neelakkuyil', a realistic movie directed jointly by Ramu Karyat and P Bhaskaran, which won the President's silver medal. Raghavan sang one of the most popular songs in that film, set in the tune of Mappila songs.

Since then he rendered music for over 400 songs, for milestone movies like 'Nirmalyam','Utharayanam', 'Nagaramenandi', 'Unniyarcha', 'Ramanan' and 'Kallichellamma.'

Film historian N Balagopal said, "Raghavan Master stands out because almost all songs he composed are memorable on account of their charm and appeal for all class of listeners, connoisseurs or lay music lovers."

An AIR staff artiste for a long time, Raghavan also made significant contributions to light music and theatre. His partnership with lyricist and director P Bhaskaran generated scores of hits which helped many movies in 1960s and 70s become blockbusters.

Raghavan himself had acknowledged in his memoirs that Bhaskaran, a colleague in AIR, had been a great influence on him and was instrumental in utilising his talent for cinema.

Born in a family of modest means, he displayed his musical talent as a boy by joining a local bhajan troupe. He later took lessons in Carnatic music from a local teacher.

A talented football player, Raghavan dropped out from school due to financial constraints and left for Bombay on being selected by a private company. But he returned here for further musical studies and did songs for local drama troupes.

After joining AIR, Raghavan worked in its Madras (Chennai) and Delhi stations for a while. His transfer to Kozhikode was a turning point in his career as it was there he came into contact with filmmakers, who invited him to do music.

He was a recipient of several honours, including Padma Shree and Kerala Government's highest film honour J C Daniel award.

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