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Malayalam Film and Television Chamber of Commerce

Malayalam Film and Television Chamber of Commerce

R.K. Damodaran

R.K. Damodaran was born to Manjapra Kothanath Chirayil Kalathil Ramankutty Nair and Palakkad Pallatheri Kappadathu Puthanveettil Kalyani Kutti Amma on 1 August 1953 in Kochi. He is deeply influenced by the fertile cultural landscape of his birth place. R.K. Damodaran is married to Rajalakshmy from North Paravoor, who was his classmate at Maharaja’s college, on 7 June 1985. They have a daughter named Anagha. They are currently residing at Kochi, Kerala.

Damodaran, hailing from Manjapra in Palakkad district, studied BA Malayalam at Maharaja’s College, Kochi and Sanskrit language at Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Kochi. 

In 1977, when R K Damodaran was a second year BA student at Maharaja’s College, he got a  letter from his friend, actor Cochin Haneefa, calling him to Madras to write a song for a movie. For a young man whose world until then was confined to Kochi, Kodambakkam was an alien world, a place beyond his wildest dreams. Despite odds, he set out for the city. 

Damodaran had known Haneefa since childhood. He knew Damodaran writes poetry. So, when an opportunity came, Haneefa wrote to Damodaran immediately.
Damodaran was a bag of nerves, but he managed to write the song Ravi Varma Chitrathin Rathibhavame…. for the movie Raju Rahim, starring Prem Nazir. The producers liked it and Damodaran couldn’t believe his fortune.

The song, rendered by Yesudas, went on to be a super hit, featuring in the bests of Yesudas, even today. And, that day also marked the start of a rare bond between R.K. Damodaran and Yesudas. Damodaran still remembers being scared and nervous to meet Yesudas for the first time. Yesudas’s first words were, “good job, keep it up” and they sealed the bond of a lifetime. 

Songs in cinema should add layers to the story. Damodaran always worked with this thought in mind. Poetry came naturally to him and that’s one reason why he could easily pen songs like Ravi Varma Chitrathin Rathibhavame…. Ironically, it was songs with simpler lines and situations that posed him a challenge, said the poet, reminiscing about the days he spent to write the hit number Thanithankakkina Pongal… the song in Siddique-Lal’s movie Friends. 

Damodaran remembers, it was a song that features some slapstick comical sequences. It was a challenge. He spent days and time was running out. In his desperation, he told Siddique to hire someone else to write the song. Siddique wouldn’t budge and wanted Damodaran to do it. The lines just flashed on his mind on the fourth day. But then, humour isn’t something he hasn’t done before. Damodaran remembers Cochin Haneefa guffawing after reading the lines, Brucelee Kunjallayo…that he wrote for the movie Raju Rahim. 

The home, Ulpreksha, had a distinctive, captivating aura — of poetry, of music.  The living room was full of awards and shields. In the showcase were black and white photos of Yesudas, P. Leela and Ilaiyaraaja with a young lad, on whose face shone reverence for the legends. The reverence was still there on Damodaran’s face as and when he speaks of Devarajan, M.K Arjunan, Vayalar, his mentors and colleagues in the music industry.

Over the years, Damodaran has penned 118 film songs, including gems like Chandrakiranathil, Hemanthageetham, Manjil Chekkerum in the 80s to the Maranno Poomakale and Omane Unni from the 2000s. A pioneer of Malayalam devotional music genre, he and composer T.S. Radhakrishnan, with whom he shares a special chemistry, have brought out hundreds of songs in the devotional and light music genre.

Apart from penning around 1,000 political songs and 130 songs for plays, Damodaran has written songs for children, sports meets, youth festivals, national integration themes, folk songs and also two Sanskrit songs.  He says, music can be found everywhere. As long as you can find beauty in everything you see, you are a poet. 

Film music and poetry, for him, are different. According to him, in films, we need diluted poetry. The lyrics vary according to the story, the character’s personality and of course, the director’s demands. He too has penned songs that he personally doesn’t like much,  but had done so  only because the director demanded it. Not all poets can conform to cinematic standards. That’s why the likes of Balachandran Chullikkad, Sugathakumari and G. Sankara Kurup bade goodbye to film songs and concentrated on writing poetry with great literary value.

Ram Rahim, the movie that featured Ravi Varma Chithrathin Rathibhavame…, might not be available now, but the song still stays fresh in everyone’s heart. Not everyone can create a masterpiece in his first attempt. R.K. Damodaran could, that’s what makes him a genius.

In his 44 years’ long journey in the Malayalam film industry, he has penned over 118 songs, having worked with legends like M K Arjunan, Ilayaraja and Johnson. But, Damodaran says he doesn’t bother much about numbers. One hundred and eighteen songs in four decades may not be something big, but for him, it was a conscious decision to keep it that way. He didn’t want his talent to be totally consumed by the film industry.

R.K. Damodaran has also worked as a journalist. 

In his career, Damodaran has penned over a whopping 1,000 light music songs and his tracks even featured in Akashavani’s bests of light music. Over the years, he could contribute 2,000 political songs and an equally large collection of songs he wrote for the theatre. He is happy to have enriched the parallel branch of music in that way. The talented lyricist has also written many jingles, including the famous Pennayal Ponnu Venam. He has also written many devotional albums, most of which were sung by Yesudas.


Following are some of the awards and achievements of R. K. Damodaran:

  • Harivarasanam Award – 2001
  • Kunjunni Master Award for poetry – 2008
  • Vaadya Mithra Award with Suvarna Mudra – 2006
  • Kesava Poduval Smaraka Puraskaram – 2018
  • Pavakulathamma Award -2018[10]
  • P.Gokulapalan Sankam Kala Group Award -2017
  • Thirumantham Kunnu Neerajanam Award- 2014
  • Parasseri Meen Kulathi Bhagavathi Temple’s Bhadrapriya Award – 2014
  • Paloor Sree Subrahmanya Swami Temple Award – 2014
  • Akhila Bharathiya Ayappa Samithi Award – 2014
  • Pattambi Sree Thali Mahadeva Puraskaram- 2013
  • Kerala Sangeetha Nataka Academy Kalasree Award – 2013
  • Oottoor Unni Namboothirippadu Smaraka Puraskaram- 2011
  • Kashypa Veda Research Foundation Award – 2010
  • Mayilppeeli Award from Guruvayoor – 2010
  • Thathvamasi Award – 2010
  • Pambadi Pambumkavu Sree Nagaraja Puraskaram – 2009
  • Jaycey Foundation Award – 2005
  • Kerala Film Audience Council Award – 2004 & 2005
  • Sangam Kala Group Award – 2003
  • MTV Award and Smrithi Award – 2002
  • Drisya Award – 2000, 2002, 2004 & 2007
  • Malayalam Tele Viewers Association Award – 2000
  • Ayyappa Ganasree Award – 1994
  • IPTA Award for the Best National Integration Song – 1992
  • Nana Miniscreen Award – 1991
  • Chottanikkara Narayana Marar Memorial Nava Naaraayam award -2018
An exemplary poet, whose mastery over Malayalam helped R.K. Damodaran weave a magnificent tapestry. He frequently says that he never faced a challenge writing rich lines, rather it was simpler songs that gave him a tough time. 

The Malayalam Film and TV Chamber of Commerce is proud to have this versatile genius as a Peer Director.