S. Balakrishnan – Malayalam music composer best known for his association with the director duo Siddique-Lal

S. Balakrishnan (1948 – 2019) was a music composer of Malayalam cinema, who predominantly worked in the late 1980s till mid-1990s. Several nostalgic melodies released during this period, belongs to him. He gave music to some of the best blockbuster hits of director duo Siddique-Lal during their peak years, right from their debut film, Ramji Rao Speaking (1989), which also marked his new beginning as an independent composer. He recorded many memorable songs with Yesudas, Chithra, M. G. Sreekumar, Unni Menon, Minmini etc.

S. Balakrishnan’s musical career began as an assistant music director to Guna Singh and to Rajan–Nagendra

S. Balakrishnan was born on 8 November 1948 in Chittlancherry, Palakkad district, Kerala. After completing graduation in Economic History from Coimbatore, he moved to Chennai pursuing a career in films. He began his musical journey in 1975 by assisting music directors like Guna Singh and Rajan–Nagendra. He excelled in playing several western music instruments, and has been a part of orchestra team of several music directors including Ilayaraja, during his early years in Chennai.

He got his first independent project under the recommendation of director Fasil

After working under different music composers for 15 years, he got his first break through Ramji Rao Speaking (1989) which also marked the debut of director duo Siddique-Lal, and the actors – Sai Kumar & Rekha, who belonged to the ensemble cast. Director Fasil recommended Balakrishnan’s name to young directors. Balakrishnan had worked under M. B. Sreenivasan for Fasil’s film, Manivathoorile Aayiram Sivarathrikal. He was a flautist, who instantly gave the tune ‘Kaneer Kaayaliletho’ when the film situation was given to him. Both the film and its music were super hits, and the trio worked together throughout 1990s for many hit projects.

A string of super hit films with Siddique-Lal

After their debut project, Balakrishnan collaborated with Siddique-Lal for movies such as In Harihar Nagar (1990), Godfather (1991), Vietnam Colony (1992) etc which ran houseful in theatres for many months. Songs were instant chartbusters. From peppy numbers to romantic tunes, S. Balakrishnan created some of the best tunes of the era, for the director duo. All these hit films came in a row. Most of their films had less tracks, but memorable ones.

His career deteriorated in mid-1990s

Though he started his career with a string of hits, most of his songs after mid-1990s went unnoticed. Except the songs of Mazhavilkoodaram & Ishtamaanu Nooruvattam, all the tunes he composed in the second half of 1990s went unnoticed. Though he was immensely talented, he failed to get some good projects. Varuthantoppam Olichu from Aakashathile Paravakal (20010 sung by Kalabhavan Mani was his last hit song. The movie was also commercially successful.

After that he composed only two film albums – Mayakazhcha (2008) and Mohabbath (2011), and slowly faded from limelight. He passed away on 17 January 2019, aged 70. Despite composing several memorable songs, his name is not so familiar to Malayalis. His career never scaled the heights of fame, which he truly deserved.

S. Balakrishnan – Some interesting and less-known facts

Manjil Maayum Saayamkalam from Mazhavil Koodaram

Manjil Maayum Saayamkalam Song from Mazhavil Koodaram. He recorded several hit duets of M. G. Sreekumar & Chithra

1. He received Best Student Award in the western classical music test conducted by Trinity College London in 1975.

2. He worked under leading music composers including Ilayaraja during his initial years.

3. Despite giving music to several memorable songs of 1990s, he never received any major award or recognition, and he always preferred to stay away from limelight.

4. He worked with Siddique-Lal duo for their 4 movies in a row, right from beginning. All the movies were blockbusters. 5th and the last collaboration of Siddique-Lal as directors, Kabooliwala (1993) is the only movie which trio didn’t work together.

5. He composed music for MGR Nagaril and Madhura Nagarilo, Tamil and Telugu remakes of In Harihar Nagar respectively.

6. For his last work as a composer, Hariharan made a guest appearance for the song, Atharu Peyyana. He also rendered his voice.

7. The hero’s name of his debut movie, Ramji Rao Speaking was also ‘Balakrishnan’. Balakrishnan and Gopalakrishnan are two pivot characters of the film. 

8. He gave the most memorable Malayalam track of Minmini’s career – Paathiravayi Neram.

9. His two major hit songs – Paathiravayi Neram & Ekantha Chandrike are dedicated to restless moon at night. Situation also remains the same, heroes/heroine trying to impress & woo the other one.

Music composer S. Balakrishnan – Super Hit Malayalam Songs

Paathiravayi Neram from Vietnam Colony – One of the top romantic tracks of Minmini’s career

  1. Paathiravayi Neram from Vietnam Colony
  2. Pavanarachezhuthunnu from Vietnam Colony
  3. Lallalam Chollunna from Vietnam Colony
  4. Ooruvalam Varum Varum from Vietnam Colony
  5. Ekantha Chandrike from In Harihar Nagar
  6. Unnam Marannu from In Harihar Nagar
  7. Avanavan Kurukkunna from Ramji Rao Speaking
  8. Kanneerkkaayaliletho from Ramji Rao Speaking
  9. Oraayiram Kinaakkalal from Ramji Rao Speaking
  10. Kalikkalam Ithu Kalikkalam from Ramji Rao Speaking
  11. Manthrikochamma Varunnundee from Godfather
  12. Neer Palunkukal from Godfather
  13. Pookkalam Vannu Pookkalam from Godfather
  14. Aavanipadamaakave Nilavu Peytha Raavu from Grihaprevesam
  15. Pachakkarikkaya Thattil from Kilukkampetti
  16. Koodu Vittu Kooderunnu from Mr. & Mrs.
  17. Athipazhathinnilaneer Churathum from Nakshathrakoodaram
  18. Chingara Kombathe from Mazhavil Koodaram
  19. Manjil Maayum Saayamkalam from Mazhavil Koodaram
  20. Ponnum Poovum Vaari Choodam from Ishtamanu Nooruvattam
  21. Manja Kani Konna from Ishtamanu Nooruvattam
  22. Varuthantoppam Olichu from Aakashathile Paravakal
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A freelance writer and blogger by profession since October 2011, interested in writing over a wide range of topics. Hope you enjoy my writings. I belong to one of the beautiful places of the world, Kerala, nicknamed as 'God's own country'.

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