It is perhaps the only award in the country instituted in memory of a music lover. The Mullassery Raju Music Award is also special because it recognises the efforts of a music director who is not given as much credit as he deserves for a good song.
The fifth Mullassery Raju Award was announced on Thursday. And it could not have gone to a more deserving composer than Johnson. “I am delighted to be honoured like this,” says Johnson.
M.T. Vasudevan Nair, who is the chairman of the Mullassery Raju Suhruth Sangham that gives the award, says the decision to institute an award for music was taken because that was the best way to honour the memories about Raju. “Music was the sole passion in his life,” he adds. “He was a good friend of mine, but we never discussed literature; we talked mainly about music and films.”
It was Raju’s love of music that made him a dear friend of all those related to music. “I met him for the first time at Yesudas’ bungalow in Chennai, way back in 1985,” recalls playback singer G. Venugopal. “He was sitting on a wheelchair. I was told that his name was Raju. Yesudas, his close friend, had brought him to Chennai for a brain surgery. Some time after that, when I came to Kozhikode for a show, Raju called me up at my hotel room and I went to meet him at his residence. After that I have made it a point to go there whenever I visit Kozhikode.”
Venugopal has also attended, and sung, at all the four award functions. Director Jayaraj has never missed the function, either.
“I will never forget the evening director and script-writer Ranjith took me along to meet Raju,” says Jayaraj. “When I went there, a ghazal programme was going on; I could sense music everywhere in that house. I could also feel the extraordinary warmth of the man. I was surprised he could take life so lightly, despite being bed-ridden for about two decades. We became very good friends. Ranjith had told me that he was planning to make a film on Raju (‘Devasuram’). I believe that is the best work by Ranjith till date. Raju used to joke that Ranjith had not managed to show even half of what he did in his life.”
M.T. was impressed by the way Raju reacted to the setbacks in his life. “I was even more impressed by the way how his wife, Lakshmi, devoted her life to him; he would not have survived but for her.”
P.K. Ajith Kumar