Eminent music director K Raghavan, who infused Malayalam cinema music with a local flavour through his popular numbers, died in a Thalassery hospital today.
Raghavan (99) was keeping unwell for some time and was admitted to the Co-operative hospital here a few days back, family sources said.
Known as Raghavan Master among colleagues and fans, he shot to fame through the 1950s hit Neelakkuyil, an early realistic movie directed jointly by Ramu Karyat and P Bhaskaran. Raghavan himself sang one of the most popular songs in that film.
Raghavan had been working in the industry for more than five decades. Since then he had rendered music for over 400 films, which included milestone Malayalam movies like Nirmalyam, Utharayanam, Nagaramendi, Unniyarcha, Ramanan and Kallichellamma.
Raghavan's partnership with lyricist P Bhaskaran resulted in a large number of hits which helped many movies in the 1960s and 70s become big hits.
Raghavan himself had acknowledged in his memoirs that Bhaskaran, a colleague in AIR, had been a great influence on him and was instrumental in utilising his talent for cinema.
Born in a family of modest means, he displayed his musical talent as a boy by joining a local bhajan troupe. He later took lessons in Carnatic music from a local teacher. A talented football player, Raghavan dropped out from school due to financial constraints and left for Bombay on being selected by a private company. But he returned here for further musical studies and did songs for local drama troupes. After joining AIR, Raghavan worked in its Madras (Chennai) and Delhi stations for a while. His transfer to Kozhikode was a turning point in his career as it was there he came into contact with filmmakers, who invited him to do music.
A staff artist of All India Radio for long, he had also made significant contributions to Malayalam light music and drama. He was the recipient of several honours, including Padma Shree and Kerala Government's highest film honour JC Daniel award.