Popular music director and lyricist, Alleppey Ranganath (73) is no more. He was undergoing treatment at the Kottayam Medical College after contracting COVID-19.
He composed music for over a thousand songs in both Malayalam and Tamil. Last week, he was honoured with the ‘Harivarasanam Award’ for his contributions to enriching Lord Ayyappa songs. Classical dancer and teacher, B Rajasri is his wife.
While Ranganath was renowned for his light music, he composed several mesmerising songs for films and plays.
Ranganath was born on March 9, 1949 into a family of musicians at Mullakkal in Alappuzha. He was the eldest son of Vezhapra Kunjukunju Bhagavatar and Ganabhooshanam MG Devammalu.
Ranganath learned his first lessons in music from his father. As his father believed that an artist must master all forms, Ranganath learned classical music and Bharatanatyam as well.
In 1968, he moved to his uncle’s house at Ponkunnam to learn for the Malayalam Vidwan title. It was there that he first entered the world of drama.
His two songs in the play ‘Kanaljalam’ for People’s Arts Club, Kanjirappally, were well received.
When Alappuzha Redstar Theatres was launched under the stewardship of Vayalar Vinayachandran at the behest of CPI, Ranganath became a proper drama person. He wrote songs and the script, composed music and even directed Darsanam that got him noticed.
After Kottayam National Theatres reproduced the play two years later, it became a super hit and Ranganath’s career was launched.
He wrote 42 plays for various troupes notably Sahadarmini, Kudumbakshetram, Amritasagaram, Ponnushasinte Varavum Kathu, and Ayalathe Amma.
Later he developed an interest in background score and shifted to Chennai, where he was introduced to films.
His first film was Jesus that released in 1973. He went on to compose for at least 25 movies.
It was his light music that made him more popular, with reportedly over 250 of those sung by Yesudas.
Ranganath’s Ayyappa songs extended his popularity beyond Malayalam. His Ayyappa songs became a hit in Tamil, Telugu and Kannada as well.