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Mahadevan was in the same league as bigtime Tamil composers M S Viswanathan and
T K Ramamurthy and later composers like
A R Rahman acknowledge Mahadevan as one of their idols


Musicals specialist is dead

K V Mahadevan, music director of such Telugu hits as Shankarabharanam and Siri Siri Muvva, dies at 83

K V Mahadevan, who made the scores for huge musical hits like Shankarabharam and Siri Siri Muvva, died in Madras on Thursday, June 21.

Krishnangoyal Venkatachalam 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 Sirivennala.

Mahadevan's father was a harikatha vidwan attached to the Travancore court. The great nadaswaram maestro Rajarathnam Pillai also influenced the young Mahadevan.

Vasantha 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.

Shankarabharanam, 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 (Mysore Vasudevacharya).

Siri Siri Muvva, another of Mahadevan's hits, was remade in Hindi, and became a big 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.

Around the time he made the music for Swati Kiranam, Mahadevan's health deteriorated, and he had stopped composing.

Bhuvaneswari M

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