V Mahadevan, who made the scores for huge musical hits like
Shankarabharam and Siri Siri Muvva, died in
Madras on Thursday, June 21.
Bhagavathar Mahadevan was born in Nagarcoil in 1917. He composed
music from 1962 to 1993 for over 150 films. He was a favourite of
Telugu directors like K Vishwanath, and made music for some
Tamil and Kannada films as well.
Mahadevan worked for a while with HMV, and
later turned to music composing. He was
considered the best in the business for musicals, which is why directors making films with a
big component of Karnatak classical music hired him. In
the course of a four-decade long career, he also made some forgettable
music for NTR films like Adavi Ramudu. But the credit cards
invariably showed his name in many music-centred films like
Muthyala Muggu, Saptapadi, Shrutilayalu and
Mahadevan's father was a harikatha vidwan attached to the Travancore
court. The great nadaswaram maestro Rajarathnam Pillai also
influenced the young Mahadevan.
Maligai, a Sivaji
Ganesan-starrer, had Mahadevan's music and turned out to be one of
his biggest Tamil hits. This was a big hit in Telugu too, where
it starred A Nageswar Rao and was called Prem Nagar. In
Kannada, Guru Shishyaru , a film made by the comedian Dwarakish,
featured his music.
starring the IAS officer Somayajulu, gave Mahadevan perhaps the
biggest hit of his career. He got S P Balasubramanyam to
sing its many raga-based numbers, a decision that upset the
classical singer Balamuralikrishna. The film was maudlin, and
ritualistically made fun of Western music in its enthusiasm to
extol the greatness of Karnatak music, but its album sales
broke records not only in Andhra Pradesh but also in neighbouring
Karnataka. Mahadevan got Balasubramanyam to sing difficult
ragas like Devagandhari and Charukeshi in the number Ragam tanam
pallavi. He also recorded traditional compositions like
Samajavaragamana (Thyagaraja) and Brochevarevarura
Siri Siri Muvva,
another of Mahadevan's hits, was remade in Hindi, and became a
grosser there too. A love story woven around a dafli player
(played by Rishi Kapoor in Hindi) and a dancer (Jayaprada in both
versions), it was less "classical" than
Shankarabharam, but its songs became equally popular.
Mahadevan was in the
same league as bigtime Tamil composers M S Viswanathan and T
K Ramamurthy, and their entire generation was eclipsed in
the '80s by Ilaiyaraja, who brought in a more sophisticated approach
to the orchestra accompanying songs. Later composers like A R
Rahman acknowledge Mahadevan as one of their idols.
the time he made the music for Swati Kiranam, Mahadevan's
health deteriorated, and he had stopped