Renowned classical and playback singer Kalyani Menon passed away after a brief illness on Monday at a city hospital. She was 80.
She is known for her classical renditions in Tamil films including in ‘Alaipayudhe’ singing the song named after the film’s title, ‘Maale Manivanna’ in the film ‘Shivaji the Boss’, ‘Omanathingal’ in ‘Muthu’ and ‘Omane Penne’ in Vinnaithaandi Varuvaya.
She had sung in many Malayalam and Tamil films, the first one being V. Dakshinamoorthy’s ‘Thacholi Marumagan Chandu’, ‘Nee varuvai ena’ in the Tamil film ‘Sujatha’. She was associated with celebrated music directors including Ilayaraja, M.S. Viswanathan, Baburaj, G. Devarajan, and Vidyasagar. Her famous association with A.R.Rahman has created the iconic anthem for the Asianet Channel ‘Shyama Sundara Kera Kedara Bhoomi’ which she sang alongside Sujatha.
The only daughter of Balakrishna Menon and Karakkat Rajamma of Ernakulam, she began learning music from a very young age from Cherthala Sivaraman Nair, a disciple of Tiger Varadhachariar. She then went on to learn music from film director and musician V. Dakshinamoorthy, S. Ramanathan, and Pudhucodu Krishnamurthi.
According to Rajan, a close associate of the family for over 50 years, she moved to Chennai in 1975 along with husband K. K. Menon, a Naval Commander, who passed away in 1978, and her two sons – filmmaker Rajiv Menon and Karunakara Menon, who is an IRS officer. She graduated from Maharajas College.
She has to her credit, several devotional recordings including ‘Sri Guruvayurappan Suprabatham’ made in 1982, ‘Narayaneeyam’, ‘Mukundamala’, ‘Mookambika Stotram’ and, other devotional hymns.
In recent times, her song ‘Jala Shaiyayil’, for which she collaborated with the Carnatic musician Sreevalsan Menon in the Malayalam art-house film “Laptop” has won much acclaim. She also collaborated in the video ‘Aliveni’, a contemporary representation of the celebrated Swathi Thirunal Padam with Mahesh Raghavan and artist Jairam Ramachandran.
In 2010, she received the Kalaimamani Award from the government of Tamil Nadu when her son Rajiv Menon too was presented with his Kalaimamani. She is also the recipient of the Kerala Sangeetha Nataka Academy Award for her contribution to devotional music.
The last rites will be held on Tuesday afternoon, as per the sources.