A captivating performer

A captivating performer

Like a few of his peers and seniors, Yesudas made his debut, which was not too well noticed, as early as the ‘60s. Each of the film industries in...

Like a few of his peers and seniors, Yesudas made his debut, which was not too well noticed, as early as the ‘60s. Each of the film industries in south India had its own leading crooners and hit pairs belting out immortal duets one after the other and it was a closed group kind of situation for strugglers and newcomers.

Indeed, fortune favours the brave and luck supports hard work which was also the case with our Kerala-origin singer. A combination of factors, mainly the one which worked in his favour was the solid support he got from the Malayalee lobby in Madras led by the Tamil matinee idol MGR and his music director team, like MS Viswanathan and KV Mahadevan.

If his career has spanned five decades, then records would obviously tumble one after the other if one takes a closer look at the overcrowded shelves in which they are arranged. The most immediate thing that strikes a fan is the number of songs – 20,000+ that he has sung in many Indian and foreign languages including Arabic.

Notwithstanding the fact that he had a very visible presence in both Malayalam and Tamil film industries from the mid-70s, which placed him in the same zone as that of the other well-known singer SP Balasubrahmanyam, the barrage of affection and support his numbers received in Telugu movie world too is noteworthy.

Yesudas was noticed in the K Balachander movie ‘Anthuleni Katha’ (1976) in which the song he sang for Rajinikanth ‘Devude Ichadu Veedhi Okati’…gained traction. From here on, the local fans heard him sing for many more Balachander ventures, chiefly the ones he sang for Chiranjeevi in ‘Rudraveena’ (Lalita Priya Kamalam). The extent to which he was heartily accepted by the Telugu listeners is evident if one notices that he has received six Nandi Awards from the then Andhra Pradesh government and also the National Award for the ANR starrer ‘Meghasandesam’.

Maintaining a special invitee status throughout the past two decades, his voice has been lip-synched by many top heroes in Telugu with NTR at one end and Mohan Babu at the other. As latest as 2007, he sang a semi-classical number for ‘Chiyaan’ Vikram in the humongous hit ‘Aparachitudu’. The number of songs may be small in number but continue to be a raging hit as they are regularly played out on radio channels including the new FM ones. Of course, the social media and the digital ones have exclusive sections on his songs, classifying them as they wish and enjoying his booming, smooth voice.

If this is how he breached the southern barriers, Hindi was also a relatively easy entry where his numbers from the Rajshri classic ‘Chitchor’ to many more in the late ‘70s are still evergreen. His voice was picked up for not just top heroes like Amitabh Bachchan, the biggest brand of that time but also Amjad Khan-starrer ‘Dada’, which many old timers would recall had a very melodious hummable song: “Dil Ke Tukde Tukde Karke” sung onscreen by the then lovey-dovey duo Vinod Mehra and Bindiya Goswami.

Neutral watchers of Hindi film trends however would give our man the advantage of having been a convenient stop-gap arrangement for the Bombay music directors as his entry into Hindi films was facilitated, coinciding with the ban imposed on Kishore Kumar by the then Congress establishment (whispered to be Sanjay Gandhi) as the maverick singer refused to publicise the welfare programmes of Indira Gandhi’s government during the Emergency days.

It may or may not have been the entire reason for Yesudas sailing into the film world across the Vindhyas and establishing a foothold there. Yet, his topnotch quality of getting into the rhythm and nativity of each and every film industry and adapting quickly to deliver notable performances made him a favourite for many, many years.

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