M. S. Baburaj

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M. S. Baburaj
Birth nameMohammad Sabir Baburaj
Also known asBaburaj, Babukka
Born(1929-03-03)3 March 1929
Calicut, Malabar District, British India
(present day Kozhikode, Kerala, India)
Died7 October 1978(1978-10-07) (aged 49)
Genres Film score, Mappila songs
  • Composer
  • Singer
  • Instrumentalist
Instrument(s)Harmonium pump organ
Years active1957–1978

Mohammad Sabir Baburaj (3 March 1929 – 7 October 1978) was an Indian music composer. He is often credited for the renaissance of Malayalam film music. [1] Baburaj has rendered music to many evergreen Malayalam film songs. [2]


Early years

Baburaj was born on 3rd March 1929 [3] in Kozhikode, then known as Calicut. His early childhood was spent in destitution and poverty. His father, Jan Muhammed Khan, who was a Hindustani musician from Bengal who frequently held concerts in Kerala, deserted his Malayali mother when he was very young, and returned to his native Kolkata. Baburaj thus became fatherless, often singing songs in trains to make a living. But as luck would have it, a policeman, Kunjumuhammed (he was called Kunjumuhammed ika), an enthusiast of music from his native town of Kozhikode, noticing the boy's vocal talents, decided to virtually adopt him. [4] [5]

Music career

One of his greatest achievements was the introduction of Hindustani strains into Malayalam popular music. He successfully composed melodies based on Hindustani Ragas and blended Malayalam lyrics into them. Most of the lyrics were written by eminent Malayalam poets like P. Bhaskaran and Vayalar. [6]

Baburaj learned basic lessons of Hindustani music from his father from a very young age, but he could not learn it for long due to his father's demise.[ clarification needed ] In search of pure music, young Baburaj visited West Bengal, Mumbai and Sri Lanka. He learned to play the Harmonium during this period.

He came back to Kerala to a precarious existence. He sang on the streets of Kozhikode to earn his livelihood. Police constable Kunju Muhammed, [7] who was a fan of Baburaj's father, adopted him[ clarification needed ] and brought him up.

Later he started composing music for the Malayalam dramas in the Malabar region and thus slowly entered the field of music direction. In 1957, he composed music for the Malayalam film Minnaminungu, by Ramu Kariat, thus entering the Malayalam film industry. Then he worked with director P. Venu and composed classic songs like "Anuragaganam Pole", "Ezhuthiyatharanu Sujatha", and "Kalichirimaaratha Penne" for the film Udhyogastha (1967).

Baburaj was also an accomplished singer and harmonium player.

Baburaj died an early death, on 7 October 1978 at the age of 49. His death occurred in a general hospital in Madras, after suffering from a massive hemorrhagic stroke. He was survived by his wife and children.


The Baburaj – P. BhaskaranYesudas combination produced many of the most memorable Malayalam tunes of the 1960s and 1970s. Most of his classic duets were sung by P Leela, K. J. Yesudas and S. Janaki, each recording solo Baburaj compositions as well. Many of Baburaj's songs remain very popular in Kerala, with songs like "Oru Pushpam Maatram" frequently rendered on stage at various events. [8] [9] [10]

The Manorama Music company chanced upon an old audio cassette of Baburaj rendering some of his own compositions in a platform of friends' circle. The cassette named 'Baburaj Padunnu' was re-mixed and became an instant hit. [11] The tracks gave Kerala a rejuvenated taste of Baburaj's music with his unique style of soulful singing. [12] Though a successful composer, Baburaj was never a careerist, but kept his focus on his art. Today, various clubs and musical organisations conduct stage programs in honour of Baburaj ('Babukka' to his friends and acquaintances [13] ), and give the proceeds to his family. During his time, money was not easy to come by for artists, [14] and Baburaj never managed to earn much, dying in poverty. "Thrikkakkare theerthakkare" sung by P. Susheela in the 1978 film Yagaswam, directed by Hariharan, was his last recorded song. [15]

In 1983, Baburaj posthumously received the Kerala Sangeetha Nataka Akademi Award in Light Music category. [16]

Notable songs


The list of Malayalam films for which songs were composed by Baburaj

See also

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