Balamuralikrishna (1930-2016): An Ode to a maestro

The rich voice that Kerala holds close

Balamuralikrishna brought the sweetness and emotions of the Swathi Thirunal composition beautifully.   | Photo Credit: V. Raju

In 1980, Telugu film Sankarabharanam brought classical music close to the common man. Seven years later, a Malayalam film also did precisely that.

The film was Swathi Thirunal, directed by Lenin Rajendran. M. Balamuralikrishna’s voice played a major part in making that film’s songs popular though they were not, well, film songs.

Those songs were classical compositions, but Balamuralikrishna’s voice and style ensured that one did not need to be trained in music to enjoy them.

Swati krithi

Just listen to him singing Jamuna kinare pyare… once more. That alone would tell us what a genius he was.

He brought the sweetness and emotions of the Swathi Thirunal composition beautifully.

He was as good in other songs in the film, such as Pannagendra shayana…, Mokshamu… and Entharo… He also won the State Award for the best playback singer for Swathi Thirunal.

The film’s director said Balamuralikrishna was his only choice to render those songs. “I felt nobody else could bring to life the voice of Shadkala Govinda Marar or the beauty of the Thayagaraja compositions so well,” Lenin told The Hindu on Tuesday.

Music composer

Mr. Rajendran wanted him to compose the background music for one of his films.

“I was impressed by the work he did for some Kannada films directed by G.V. Iyer,” he said.

Classical singer and composer Sreevalsan Menon said he was amazed by Balamuralikrishna’s classical compositions.

“As a singer too he was unique, he cultivated a style of his own,” he said.

“He employed melody brilliantly in his music. He may not have pleased traditionalists with some of the experiments, but he was able to take classical music to the untrained.”

CM condoles death

Balamuralikrishna was an unparalleled personality in the world of contemporary Carnatic music, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijjayan said.

In his condolence message, Mr. Vijayan said he was a ‘Sangeetha Kulapathi’ whose life was enriched with his sweetness of rendition, with attempts at innovation.

In his condolences, Cultural Affairs Minister A.K. Balan said Balamuralikrishna was not just a vocalist but also adept at handling musical instruments such as violin and mridangam.

Also a poet

He was also a poet and music director of repute.

In his message, KPCC president V.M. Sudheeran said Balamuralikrishna was a musician who made available the beauty of carnatic music to common listener.

This loss to the world of music could never be compensated, he said.

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Printable version | May 3, 2021 6:23:48 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Thiruvananthapuram/the-rich-voice-that-kerala-holds-close/article16683640.ece1

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