Mappilapattu singer Ramla Beegum no more

Mappilapattu singer Ramla Beegum. Photo: Manorama

Mappilapattu singer and Kathaprasangam artist Ramla Beegum passed away at her residence in Paroppadi in Kozhikode on Wednesday. She was 83.

Well-known for her distinctive style of narrating stories steeped in Muslim and Hindu culture through her songs and Kathaprasangam performances, Ramla has performed on various national and international stages.

Many of her Mappilapattu songs and lyrical stories like 'Husnul Jamal Badrul Muneer' are still popular among art lovers. 'Aalam Udayon…, ‘Iruloka Jayamaniyum…’, were some of her popular renditions.

She was the recipient of various honours, including the Kerala Sangeetha Nataka Academi Award and Folklore Akademi Award, among others.

Born to Hussain Yousuf Yamana of Alappuzha and Mariyam Beevi from Feroke Petta in Kozhikode in 1946, Ramla grew up in Alappuzha. She was the couple's 10th child.

She began her career performing Hindi songs as lead singer in the Azad Music Troupe in Alappuzha. At 18, she married the late K A Salam (popularly known as Salam mash).

The conservative society that looked down upon female artists, raised hurdles to scuttle her career. She even faced a murder attempt once. She would later remember how her husband, a tabla player and music director, stood by her and supported her during these tough times.

Though she lived in Alappuzha, she moved to Kozhikode when her career picked up pace. 

As a Kathaprasangam exponent, Ramla narrated stories based on Kesavadev's 'Odayil Ninnu', the Sanskrit classic 'Shaakuntalam' by Kalidasa and Kumaran Asan's 'Nalini', among others.

Her songs were so popular that music labels like HMV and Colombia recorded her songs on gramophone records.

A committee led by MLA Dr M K Muneer bought her an apartment at Paroppadi, said music director K V Abootty.

"She had her unique style of singing. I wanted her to sig one of my songs. She also liked the idea. But it will now remain an unfulfilled dream," Abootty said.

She is survived by her daughter Rasiya. Her burial will be held at the Kannadikkal Juma Masjid at 11 am on Thursday.

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