Venugopal: An original, refreshing voice that gave Malayalam timeless melodies

G. Venugopal  

There is to G. Venugopal’s voice a rare quality that gladdens the ear and soothes the mind. That refreshingly original voice turned 60 on Thursday.

He may not be among the most prolific of our playback singers, but he has to his credit some of the sweetest melodies in Malayalam cinema of the last four decades. He had arrived at the tinsel town at a time when it was very difficult to get an opportunity for a new singer.

First hit

It certainly wasn’t easy for him, for all his talent and training, but all he needed was one big hit. He got that in 1986, with Onnu Muthal Poojyam Vare, Raghunath Paleri's directorial debut produced by Navodaya.

Raree rareeram raaro, the sweet lullaby, tuned by Mohan Sithara, another debutant, became an instant hit. That was two years after his playback career kicked off with the Priyadarshan comedy, Odaruthammava Aalariyam.

The 1980s and 90s saw Venugopal establishing himself as one of the leading singers in Malayalam cinema, with a series of chart-toppers, such as Chandana mani vaathil... (Marikkunnila Njan), Thane poovitta moham... (Sasneham), Onnaam raagam paadi... (Thoovanathumpikal) and Pallitherundo... (Mazhavilkavadi).

Unique style

His unique voice and style as well as the ability to bring out the true emotion of a song did not go unnoticed. It is doubtful if he has sung as many songs as he should have in films, but he more than made up for that by doing something that no other playback singer ever attempted: he took an initiative to give music to several great poems in Malayalam and brought out albums.

He got lesser known composers like Jaison J. Nair and Suresh Manimala to tune well-known poems of O.N.V. Kurup, Sugathakumari, Satchidanandan, N.N. Kakkad, Balachandran Chullikkad and others. The result was pure magic.

To listen to poems such as Saphalamee Yathra, Meera Paadunnu, Krishna Neeyenne Ariyilla and Sandarshanam in Venugopal’s voice is an out-of-the-world experience. His contribution in taking poetry to the average listener cannot be overstated.

“Yes, that is something I am proud of, looking back at my career,” Venugopal told The Hindu. “I am working on another album of poems, which will be out soon.”

That surely is worth looking forward to.

Venugopal's Top Ten

Chandana manivaathil... (Marikkunnila Njan)

Thane poovitta moham... (Sasneham)

Poothaalam valam kayyil... (Kalikkalam)

Kaanaanazhakulla... (Oozham)

Unarumee gaanam... (Moonnam Pakkam)

Onnaam raagam paadi... (Thoovanathumbikal)

Manjin vilolalamaam... (Utharam)

Thaamara noolinaal... (Mullavalliyum Thenmavum)

Kanaka munthirikal... (Punaradhivasam)

Raree rareeram... (Onnu Muthal Poojayam Vare)

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Printable version | Mar 6, 2021 11:50:06 AM |

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