Vellinakshatram fades away: KP Udayabhanu dies
Thiruvananthapuram: Noted playback singer and composer K P Udayabhanu, whose velvety voice had magically evoked the anxieties of the of the post-Independence era, died here on Sunday. He was 78.
Udayabhanu, who has been suffering from Parkinson’s, was being cared for at his son’s home here for the last six months.
He had also sustained serious internal injuries after a near-fatal fall from the dais during a stage programme. He was in a state of coma during the last three months, responding only to his songs that were played out to him. In the last few days he was so weak that he could not even drink water.
His son Rajiv Udayabhanu was present at the moment of his death. Udayabhanu was a lodestar who flashed for a fleeting moment across the music firmament. He shone for a relatively short period from 1958 to 1968.
His first song was a solo, ‘Enthinithra Panchasara’, for the P Bhaskaran film ‘Nayaru Pidicha Pulivalu’. He also sang a duet, ‘Velutha Penne’, with P Leela for the film under the baton on K Raghavan. In fact, the success of his first solo song marked a new chapter in the history of Malayalam playback singing dominated by other-state singers like T K Govinda Rao. He sang his last film song in 1968.
In between he sang 59 songs, almost all which are considered classics. The greatest of them included the best in Malayalam like ‘Kaanana Chayayil’ (with P Leela in ‘Ramanan’), ‘Anuraga Nadakathin’ (for the film ‘Ninamaninja Kalppadukal’) and Thaamarathumbee Vaavaa ( with Leela in Puthiya Aakasham Puthiya Bhoomi ).
He then turned music composer. Stalwarts like O N V Kurup and K J Yesudas have testified to the brilliance of his craft. But he had composed for just two films: ‘Samasya’ and ‘Mayilpeeli’. Udayabhanu began his career as announced in the Kozhikode unit of All India Radio. It was his stint in AIR, during which he befriended talents like K Raghavan and P Bhasakaran, that led him to films.
Next: The voice Malayalam had never heard enough
The voice Malayalam had never heard enough
Thiruvananthapuram: The words of the legendary Baburaj had turned out to be heart-achingly true. In 1960, Baburaj had wanted K.P. Udayabhanu’s voice for six of the 12 songs in the film Umma.
He even made Udayabhanu practice hard and perfect the nuances of the songs. But Kunchacko, the producer and director of the film, had other ideas. He rejected Udayabhanu, without even hearing him, and forced Baburaj to record the songs with A.M. Raja.
Yesudas was excited after singing under Udayabhanu’s baton for a song in Mayilpeeli. —DC
A frustrated Baburaj then squeezed Udayabhanu’s hand and said: “Malayalam will never get to hear enough of you.” Though tragic, those words turned out to be prophetic. Singers who came after him sang hundreds of songs but Udayabhanu had crooned just 59. He lasted only ten years.
“He was only a brilliant singer. He did not know the tricks required to push him through the world of playback singing,” Jnanapeeth laureate O.N.V. Kurup said. Even Baburaj, who had publicly stated that Udayabhanu was his favourite singer, could not make him sing his best numbers.
Udayabhanu got his first solo Enthinithra Panchasara for the P Bhaskaran film Nayaru Pidicha Pulivalu only because K. Raghavan stood up to the producer who was against employing an untested voice. Udayabhanu was not just a brilliant singer but a hugely talented composer, too. “It was just that no one took note,” O N V said.
He composed for only two films: Samasya and Mayilpeeli, the last of which was not released. The poet remembers how excited Yesudas was after singing under Udayabhanu’s baton for a song in Mayilpeeli. “I have never heard such innovative violin interludes,” O N V said.
It was not as if Udayabhanu was a detached soul who had transcended earthly pangs. “Once I took the initiative to bring Udayabhanu back to playback singing. But a big composer of the time rejected the idea outright. I was helpless and for the first time I saw tears in his eyes,” O N V said.