Meet Mary Shyla, the singer who disappeared 45 years ago

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Mary Shyla and a still from the movie song
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The Christian devotional song ‘Neeyente Prarthana Kettu, Neeyente Maanasam Kandu’ is a soulful melody that still reverberates in many churches across Kerala. However, not many know that it is actually from the movie Kattu Vithachavan that was released around four and half decades ago. Music lovers have forgotten the owner of the beautiful voice that has rendered this song.

Mary Shyla, for whom ‘Neeyente Prarthana Kettu’ was her first and last song in Malayalam cinema, has been living away from the limelight for the last 45 years. Mary Shyla was just 20 years old when she recorded the iconic song at the Bharani Studio in Madras. Music composer Peter Ruben, lyricist Poovachal Khader, singer JM Raju and another composer RK Shekar were impressed by Shyla’s singing prowess and had appreciated her.

Now, Mary Shyla (Shyla Satheesh) is 65 years old. Even though the Malayalam music industry has been looking for her for so many years, she remained elusive.

Shyla was the lead singer in a troupe called the Christian Arts. She has sung countless songs with legendary singer JM Raju of the Radio Ceylon, during the golden age of the Christian Arts. She disappeared into oblivion after she got married to her colleague Satheesh. She soon ended all ties with Christian Arts. Neither did she perform in another stage show since then. Though many tried to contact Shyla learning that she was settled at Thirupur in Madras, they couldn’t locate the singer. It was only recently that she could be traced, through Facebook. Mary is leading a happy life with husband Satheesh and three daughters at Lingarajapuram in Bengaluru.

Shyla’s daughter Sanjana had recently posted a comment below a YouTube video, about her mother’s song. This comment was actually the thread that led to the singer and now social media is abuzz with the song.

Shyla and Satheesh have three daughters – Sukanya, Sanjana and Sharanya. The singer had dedicated her life for her family after the wedding. However, she never lost her love for singing. She used to occasionally sing in the church choir. The Christian communities in Benguluru seldom realised that the singer, who was singing with a little nervousness, had in fact rendered one of the most iconic Malayalam devotional songs.

Shyla didn’t bother to reveal it to anyone either. She believed that no one would remember the female singer who had disappeared after singing just one song in a movie. Shyla cannot recall the lines of the superhit song that she had sung 45 years ago. Interestingly, the lines ‘Vazhthunnu Daivame Nin Mahtwam, Vazhthunnu Rakshaka Ninte Naamam’ are the only words that Shyla remember from the song. 

She isn’t interested in singing for a movie anymore. 

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