Updated: Jul 4, 2021
Consonance and dissonance
M. K. Arjunan ( Arjunan Master)
One of the legends in the Malayalam filmdom, he has composed more than 500 songs for movies and more than 800 songs for dramas. Most of his compositions turned into hit songs.
I first met Arjunan Master in 1998 while recording my song 'Priya Ragam' in the studio run by his son Ani Arjun. A soft-spoken gentleman, he laughs loud and heartily, even for small jokes and quirky incidents. Without a doubt, he is the most humble senior musician I have ever met in my life. Despite knowing the faults in my work, without interfering, he encouraged me and just provided suggestions to help me improve.
Those days, he had the habit of placing chewing tobacco beneath his lower lip. He would occasionally move out to spit into the flowerpots kept at either side of the studio door. Once, while standing at the entrance, I saw a young musician doing the same. The next time when Arjunan Master came out to spit, I told him that youngsters admire him and so they are imitating him. After his hearty loud laugh, he went inside, and I accompanied him. There were only three people inside, and in all seriousness, addressing them, he said, "I have a bad habit, and I am stopping it. Those who imitate me have to do the same".
He has often narrated many incidents about his bitter experiences in the industry. Once, he mentioned that the director of a movie doubted his talent and suspected whether he's having the compositions done by somebody else. To validate it, he was provided with a room to compose the songs. After describing the required song situation, the director left, locking the room from outside. He didn't have food or even water, and yet, when the director turned up, he was ready with the compositions. Those songs later became big hits.
He composed the song 'Chembaka Thaikal ' in ghazal form without knowing what ghazal is. He had never heard a ghazal before when he made it, and yet his composition is so beautiful that it's one of my favourite songs.
I thought of him, prepared this text late at night yesterday, and woke up to hear that he passed away this morning.