Kaithapram Viswanathan: The sage of music whose tunes transcended times

Kaithapram Viswanathan had the uncanny knack of charming the listeners with his music.

A musician who had imbibed the purity of music into his own life, Kaithapram Viswanathan, despite his immense knowledge of music, never let that wisdom taint his film music compositions. He kept his film music simple and beautiful, with melodies that lingered with their innocence. That’s why Kaithapram Viswanathan’s melodies are still treasured by film music lovers and that’s perhaps what makes him unique in the world of music. His melodies, which are rich in quality than quantity, will sure stand the test of time. Viswanathan has never gone knocking the doors for opportunities. Whenever he has produced music, it has remained etched in the hearts of music lovers. They touch our hearts with the tenderness of a rose petal.

Did Malayalam cinema really explore this talented musician? Was he really given his due? That’s perhaps a thought that’s foremost in the minds of every music lover today. There was something very soothing about his melodies, relaxing our senses, which invariably brightened our days and nights. Whenever he composed melodies, his music used to reach the zenith of perfection. That’s why his compositions always found a place in musicals.

Viswanathan was a constant source of encouragement and support to his brother Kaithapram Damodaran Namboothiri’s musical journey. He started his career in film music as an assistant to Kaithapram Damodaran Namboothiri. It was his friendship with filmmaker Jayaraj that eventually resulted in his film music debut. Jayaraj’s film Kannaki, loosely based on Antony and Cleopatra was his first film album.

Kannaki songs were composed in a tiny room near the Dhanvantari temple. Accompanied by his brother and Jayaraj, Viswanathan surprisingly didn’t display the jitters of a debutant music composer. Why should he anyway? He was surrounded by people who were dear to him. With a prayer to Dhanvantari, he started his compositions. As Jayaraj quietly narrated the situation, Viswanathan quickly fell into the groove. By the time the temple bells chimed for the evening 'Deeparadhana' (a ritual with lamp), he was ready with the entire album. His quickness and scientific knowledge of music had given him the reputation of an assured and popular music composer.

The recording was at Kochi’s Lal media. Since there was a song left to compose, everyone had assembled at the studio first thing in the morning. It was Viswanathan who suggested writing a song and composing it. Once Jayaraj okayed it, the lyrics were written in a jiffy by Kaithapram Damodaran Namboothiri. “Ini oru Janmamundengil Namukkasarayoo Theerathu Kaanam….” Jayaraj loved the opening lines. After finishing his lyrics, Kaithapram Damodaran Namboothiri told his brother to compose it at leisure and took others for a cup of tea.

Viswanathan hummed the first tune that came into his mind. Kallara Gopan who was there to sing the track loved it. That was enough encouragement for Viswanathan to finish the composition. When Jayaraj and co returned, Viswanathan began singing resulting in a warm bear hug from Jayaraj. He was ecstatic.

Viswanathan’s partnership with Yesudas and Kaithapram Damodaran Namboothiri reaped huge dividends. Absolute gems came out of this association. It is said that Yesudas was choked with emotion after he sang Ennu Verum Nee. He clasped Viswanathan’s hands and looked at the young musician without saying a word. Before leaving the veteran singer spoke highly of the song to the composer Kaithapram Damodaran Namboothiri— “What an exquisite melody,” he told him.

But unfortunately in the movie, they used only KS Chitra’s version and Yesudas didn’t bother to hide his displeasure. Viswanathan smilingly hugged him in reply. But Yesudas couldn’t sulk for long as Viswanathan gave him a beautiful melody in Jayaraj’s next film—Thilakkam (‘Enikkoru Pennundu”).

Viswanathan had the uncanny knack of charming the listeners with his music. Some of his melodies like “Kaiyethu Doore,” “Neeyoru Puzhayay”, “Ezham Bahrin” remain unforgettable. Even while composing a peppy whacky song like “Saare Saare sambhare”, Kaithapram never compromised on his melody.

Viswanathan despite his repertoire of beautiful melodies was never really a sought-after musician. But he never protested. He waited for the right films to unleash his range of pure music. Musicians are always blessed in a way; they live eternally through their music. So will Kaithapram Viswanathan and his beautiful melodies. 

The comments posted here/below/in the given space are not on behalf of Onmanorama. The person posting the comment will be in sole ownership of its responsibility. According to the central government's IT rules, obscene or offensive statement made against a person, religion, community or nation is a punishable offense, and legal action would be taken against people who indulge in such activities.