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Malayalam Film and Television Chamber of Commerce

Malayalam Film and Television Chamber of Commerce

Madhu Balakrishnan

Madhu Balakrishnan was born on 24th June 1974 to Balakrishnan and Leelavathi at North Paravur in Ernakulam District. He is married to Divya elder sister of Indian cricketer S. Sreesanth. Madhu was inspired by his mother Leelavathi, who had studied both music and dance, to take up music. Madhu was fortunate to get basic training in music since childhood from versatile classical musicians.

He is married to Viditha (Divya), the elder sister of cricketer and actor Sreesanth, and they have two sons, Madhav (b. 2002) and Mahaadev (b. 2009). They live in Tripunithura, Ernakulam.

After passing out his Pre-Degree he opted to pursue higher studies in classical music and joined the Academy of Indian Music and Art, Adayar, Chennai, with a scholarship from Ford Foundation. The Academy of Indian Music and Arts (AIMA) founded in 1984 by legendary musician Padmabhushan Dr. T.V. Gopalakrishnan, stands tall as a state-of-the-art music academy to attain in-depth knowledge and mastery in multiple genres of Indian music. AIMA has proven to be a haven for music aspirants and practitioners irrespective of economic or social bias. AIMA is committed to bringing back the doctrine of music into modern lives.
During his tutelage at the Academy of Indian Music and Art, Madhu used to sing light music.

He made his debut years back with his renditions in the yet-to-be released Malayalam film `Sisiram.’ His first song, “Paathiraa pooveh”, went into oblivion as the film “Sisiram” was not released. The music was scored by Benny Ignatius.

Earlier, he had sung tracks for Yesudas under the baton of the late Malayalam music director Raveedran for the film `Ayal Katha Ezhuthukayanu.’

An Unexpected Debut

Madhu’s foray into playback singing began with an unexpected offer in 1995 from a Tamil composer, Shah, who was scouting around for a new voice. Madhu was then undergoing a four-year training course at the Academy of Indian Music and Arts in Chennai. It was the academy’s founder-director, T. V. Gopalakrishnan, who put in a plug for his pupil when approached by Shah for recommendations on a new voice. The debut song that Madhu recorded for Shah was a duet with K. S. Chitra titled Ullathai thirandhu, the longest and one of the important songs, from the film Ulavuthurai.

Upon graduation from the Academy, Madhu recorded some devotional numbers in Malayalam and then landed offers to sing for Malayalam films around 1999.

Madhu got a break in the Malayalam music industry in 2002. He bagged the Kerala State Award for his song Amme…Amme… in the film `Valkannadi.’ The music for this pacy and melodious track was scored by M. Jayachandran.

Since then, Madhu has received many opportunities to sing in Malayalam for films. He was selected as the best playback singer award instituted by the Kerala Film Critics Association in 2004 for his song Chembakame… in the film `Kakkakarumban.’ Chatharmizhi…, a duet with Chitra in `Perumazhakalam,’ Swapanthin…. in `Vacation,’ Krishna Bolo… in `Gaurisankaram,’ Kuttanadan… in `Kazhcha,’ Vande Matharam…in `Nattu Raajavu’ and Kanakassabhathalam… in `Udayapuram Sulthan’ are some of his notable hits.

A winner of Kerala and Tamilnadu State awards for Best Playback Singer as well as Tamilnadu’s prestigious “Kalaimamani” title, Madhu Balakrishnan is today widely acclaimed as one of South India’s leading playback singers. Acknowledging his foothold in the Malayalam film music industry, the Swaralaya-Eenam cultural organisation conferred on him the “Best Young Singer of the Decade” award in 2010.

Now 20 years have been passed into his career as a playback singer, Madhu has more than 400 film songs in Malayalam, Tamil, Kannada and Telugu under his belt. The devout Hindu has also recorded countless devotional songs and appeared in several devotional music videos.

Madhu performs regularly at the Swaralaya Dance and Music Festival held in Palakkad and the Chembai Sangeethootsavam in Guruvayur. He also appears on Malayalam and Tamil television as a performer or judge of talent competitions.

Madhu’s fame has spread well beyond Indian shores: he has performed frequently in the Gulf region as well as in Singapore, Malaysia, Europe and Australia. He performed in Italy in 2004 with the symphonic orchestra of Illairaja, who also utilised Madhu in his celebrated Thiruvasagam classical crossover album.

Subsequently, Madhu began gaining attention when he sang for films such as “Umayapuram Sultan”. He was soon spotted and signed on by musical heavyweights such as the late Raveendran Master and M. G. Radhakrishnan.

Madhu skyrocketed to fame in 2002 with the Malayalam song “Amme” from the film “Vaalkannadi”. His powerful and poignant rendition of the song composed by M. Jayachandran bagged him a Kerala State Film Award for Best Playback Singer and gave him a firm footing in the Malayalam film music industry.

Some of Madhu’s popular numbers in Malayalam since then include “Raveerayai pooveh” from “Rock and Roll”, which won him Asianet award, and “Ramayanam katha” from “Pathaam nilayile theevandi”, which won him one of several Kerala Film Critics’ awards over the years. In 2015, Madhu set a record, singing the longest Malayalam film song at 13 mines 13 secs. The song, “Chitrathile kootukari”, is from the film “Sooryabhadra”.

Meanwhile, Madhu re-entered the Tamil film music industry in 2000. This was when he caught the attention of maestro Illaiyaraja, thanks to a brief good word put in by a well-wisher who had recognised and utilised his talents, the late Malayalam musical stalwart Swaamy V. Dhakshinamoorthy. Illaiyaraja signed on Madhu to sing Edhilum ingu iruppaan and Vande mataram for the Tamil film Bharathi.

But Madhu’s break in Tamil films came in 2003 with the Vidhyasagar hit melody Kanaa kandeinadee thozhi from the film “Parthiban kanavu”. Further recognition came two years later, when Vidhyasagar tapped him again, this time as the voice of Superstar Rajnikanth in Konja neram konja neram. The duet with Asha Bhosle from the movie Chandramukhi became a chart-buster.

Soon, Madhu was signed on to sing for Tamil films such as “Pithamagan”, “Mozhi”, “Abhiyum naanum”, and “Naan mahaan alla”. Capping his achievements in Tamil film music, Madhu won a Tamilnadu State Film Award for Best Playback Singer in 2006 and the Tamilnadu “Kalaimamani” title for artistic achievement in 2007. One of his most recent honours for his Tamil film songs was a Radio Mirchi award in 2010 for his soulful rendition of Illaiyaraja’s “Picchai pathiram” from “Naan kadavul”.

Classical Base

Madhu’s strength lies in his classical foundation. Although his late father and his mother were not professional musicians, both had good musical sense – mother Leelavathy had studied both music and dance. With strong encouragement from musically inclined parents, Madhu started classical training in his childhood years under Sreedevi and Chandramana Narayanan Namboothiri. He also took part in light music competitions while at school.

After completing his pre-degree course, Madhu abandoned the academic route to focus on his music education. He received a Ford Foundation scholarship to undertake a four-year course in classical music and entered at the Academy of Indian Music and Arts in Chennai. At the Academy, he came under the tutelage of a slew of heavyweights such as founder-director T. V. Gopalakrishnan as well as Manikrishna Swami and Vedavalli.

Today, Madhu is frequently sought out by composers to sing classically oriented numbers in films. Songs such as “Himalayam” from “Scene No 001” (Malayalam), “Dukhathin” and “Hridaya Mrudanga” from “Nadabrahmam” (Malayalam), “Thendral ennum thear” from “Paasa killigal” (Tamil) and the theme song of the Tamil film “Thavamaai thavam irundhu” are just a handful of songs that showcase his training – songs where he has skilfully rendered challenging ragas, scaled effortlessly through multiple octaves, and breathlessly sustained notes for an incredible number of bars.

Versatile Singer

Madhu’s classical heft has not detracted from his ability to croon soft melodies for romantic heroes such as Prithviraj and Ajithkumar. His Tamil songs such as “Ding dong koyil mani” (“Ji”) , “Solli tharavaa” (“Majaa”), “Attrai thingal” (“Sivapathikaram”), and Malayalam songs such as “Palaazhi thumbi” (“Varrgam”), “Manjin veyil” (“Paapi Appacha”), “Enguninnu vanna” (“Calcutta News”), and “Chentharmizhi” (“Perumazhakaalam”) well highlight his ability to modulate his deep baritones to suit the mood.

In 2010, the usually staid Madhu put on an unexpectedly lively stage presence and proved his versatility by singing a wide range of songs, from classically oriented numbers and love tunes to jazzy numbers and even a rollicking dappanguttu song in the inaugural Sun TV talent competition “Sangeetha Maha Yutham”. His outstanding performances in the three-month long contest helped his team of amateur singers beat five other teams, each helmed by a playback singer, and won the hearts of Tamil audiences around the globe.

Madhu has received rave reviews and critical acclaim for his renditions in Tamil and Telugu films. The duet rendered with Sadhana Sargam in `Majaa’ has become a rage in Tamil Nadu, says Madhu. The film, directed by Shafi, is a remake of the Malayalam hit `Thommanum Makkalum.’ Konjam Neram…, a duet with Asha Bhonsle in the Tamil film `Chandramukhi’ has also become a hit. Azhagiya Darisanam… in `Aanai,’ Adakondai Seval… in `Adaikkalam,’ Vaitha Kann… in `Bose,’ Piraiye Piraiye…in `Pithamagan’ and Aavaaram Poove… in `Thavamai Thavamirundhu’ are what Madhu considers his hit songs in Tamil.

The singer has carved a niche for himself in the Telugu film industry with his renditions in the K. Vishwanath-directed Telugu film `Swarabhishekam.’ Ramaa Vinodhi Vallabha…composed by Vidhyasagar has topped the charts owing to what critics describe as the “stunning swara patterns and essential tonal modulations of Madhu Balakrishnan and Sriram Parthasarathy…” In Kannada too, Madhu’s songs in `Sumagali’ were a hit.

Madhu says that he does not have any problem with the diction while rendering songs in Kannada, Tamil and Telugu films. He was able to learn the correct accent from his Kannada, Tamil and Telugu friends at the music institute.

Madhu also enjoys listening to Western music and Hindustani music, including ghazals.

In August, 2012 Madhu did a cameo appearance by acting a sing’s role in the Malayalam film Neeranjanam which released on 30th May, 2013.

In March 2015 Madhu recorded his first Hindi film song, singing O re Priya for the film Who Kaun Thi, starring brother-in-law and cricketer Sree Santh.

Awards and Accolades (A partial list)

  • 2017 – Honorary Doctorate from The International Tamil University, USA.
  • 2015 – JC Foundation Award for Best Male Playback Singer (Film: Mizhithuraku)
  • 2011 – International Malayalam Film Award for Best Singer
  • 2011 – JC Foundation Award for Best Male Playback Singer (Yakshiyum Nyanum)
  • 2010 – Swaralaya-Eenam Award for Best Young Singer (Male)
  • 2010 – Mirchi Music Award for Best Male Singer for “Pichai Pathiram” from the movie “Naan Kadavul”
  • 2009 – Kerala Film Critics Award for “Pathaam Nilayile” from the film “Theevandi”
  • 2007 – Ujala Asianet Film Award for Best Male Playback Singer for “Raveerayai Poove” from the film “Rock N Roll”
  • 2007 – South Filmfare Award for Best Male Playback Singer for “Raveerayai Poove” from the film “Rock N Roll”
  • 2007 – Kalaimamani award for excellence in music, conferred by the Tamil Nadu  State Government
  • 2006 – Tamil Nadu State Film Award for Best Male Playback Singer
  • 2004 – Kerala Film Critics Award
  • 2004 – LPR Award
  • 2004 – Virtuoso Award by for Best Melody Singer – Tamil Films
  • 2003 – Kerala Film Critics Award
  • 2002 – Kerala State Film Award for Best Singer for “Amme” from the film “Vaalkannadi”
  • 2002 – Mahatma Gandhi Educational Foundation Award
  • 2002 – Solar Award
  • 2002 – Junior Chamber Award
  • 2001 – Drisya Award for Best Male Playback Singer (TV)
  • 2000 – Soma Award for Best Male Playback Singer
The Malayalam Film and TV Chamber of Commerce is truly privileged to have the young, versatile singing sensation, Madhu Balakrishnan as an Advisory Board Member.