A music wizard who never got his due in cinema: Remembering Alleppey Ranganath

Alleppey Ranganath

Despite being such fine talent, Alleppey Ranganath never got his due in Malayalam cinema. And it always hurt him. He was a name to reckon with in the world of theatre and has composed, directed, and written various songs for the stage. But it wasn’t until he started composing light music for Tharangini studio that the film industry started noticing him. Though he went to Chennai to try his luck in cinema, his attempts turned out to be futile.

His debut in film music started with Jesus, produced by PA Thomas, who invited the musician along with MA Vishwanath and KJ Yesudas. That association resulted in the song, ‘Oshana Oshana’ which was penned by Augustine Vanchimala. It was P. Jayachandran who suggested HMV Company record Ranganath's first stage song. Jayachandran himself sang those songs. So it seemed fair that Ranganath would call Jayachandran to sing for his first film song too.

When the movie Jesus ran for 101 days, Thomas had promised Ranganath that he will be called to compose music for his next film too. But somehow Thomas was not able to fulfill that promise.

Eventually, he left Chennai, leaving his film dreams behind, and shifted to Kerala and theatre. During this tenure, he got close to Yesudas and joined Tharangini studio. It was his Tharangini songs that resulted in the musician composing the background score for Priyadarshan’s Poochakkoru Mookuthi. He also composed music for Pappan Priyapetta Pappan.

It was after listening to Tharangini’s children's songs that Balachandra Menon called him to compose music for his film Arante Mulla Kochu Mulla. Some of the songs like ‘Kaatil Kodunkatil’ and ‘Shaleena soundaryame’ became superhits. He followed that up with films like Principle Oluvil, Madakkayathra, Mamalakkalkapurathu, Captain, Achan Balan Makan Bheeman. Though he has composed music for over 25 films, several of them didn’t get a release.

Though he directed films like Ambadi Thannilorunni and Dhanurvedham, they hardly made an impact. It was AR Rahman who played the keyboard for Ambadi Thannilorunni’s re-recording. He directed a 17-episode series on Thyagaraja Swamikal for DD and a telefilm called Ariyathe. 

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