Malayalam music legend K Raghavan passes away at 99

RaghavanK Raghavan brought originality and local flavour to Malayalam cinema music.

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 here today. He was 99.

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.

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