Vani Jairam

Vani Jairam
Vani Jairam 2014 FF (cropped).jpg
Vani Jairam in 2014

(1945-11-30) 30 November 1945 (age 76)[1]
Vellore, Tamil Nadu, India
Alma mater Queen Mary's College
Occupation Playback singer
(m. 1969; died 2018)

Vani Jairam (born as Kalaivani on 30 November 1945), also credited as Vani Jayaram, is an respected and well known Indian singer. She is best known as a playback singer in South Indian cinema. Vani's career started in 1971 and has spanned over five decades. She has done playback for over thousand Indian movies recording over 20,000 songs. In addition, she has recorded thousands of devotionals and private albums and also participated in numerous solo concerts in India and abroad.[2]

Renowned for her vocal range and easy adaptability to any difficult composition, Vani has often been the choice for several composers across India through the 1970s until the late 1990s.She has sung in several Indian languages, such as Kannada, Tamil, Hindi, Telugu, Malayalam, Marathi, Odia,[3] Gujarati, Haryanvi, Assameese, and Bengali languages.[4]

Vani won the National Film Awards for Best Female Playback Singer three times and also has won State Government awards from the states of Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Gujarat.[4] In 2012, she was honored with the Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award – South for her achievements in South Indian film music.[5] In July 2017 she was honored with the Best Female Singer at the NAFA 2017 event at New York City.[6]

Early life and career

Vani was born as Kalaivani in Vellore in Tamil Nadu, in a Tamil family of classically trained musicians as a fifth daughter in a family of six daughters and three sons. Her mother Padmavathi, trained under Ranga Ramunaja Iyengar, enrolled her into his classes where he taught her a few Muthuswami Dikshitar kritis. Later she was given a formal Carnatic training under the guidance of Kadalur Srinivas Iyengar, T. R. Balasubramanian and R. S. Mani. Vani was glued to the Radio Ceylon channel and was attracted towards Hindi film songs to the extent that she used to memorize and reproduce the entire orchestration of the songs that used to repeatedly play on the Radio.[7] At the age of 8, she gave her first public performance at the All India Radio, Madras.Vani Jairam was a student of Queen Mary's College in Madras University.[8][9] Post her studies, Vani was employed with the State Bank of India, Madras and later in 1967, she was transferred to the Hyderabad branch.[10]

After her marriage with Jairam in 1969, She moved to Mumbai to set up her family. Upon her request, she was transferred to the Mumbai branch of her bank. Knowing her singing skills, Jairam persuaded Vani to get trained in the Hindustani classical music and she enrolled under Ustad Abdul Rehman Khan of the Patiala gharana. Her rigorous training under him made her quit from her bank job and take up music as her profession. She learnt the nuances of various vocal forms such as Thumri, Ghazal and Bhajan under Khan's tutelage and gave her first public concert in 1969.[11] In the same year, she was introduced to the composer Vasant Desai who was recording a Marathi album with singer Kumar Gandharva. Upon listening to her voice, Desai chose her to sing the song "Runanubandhacha" for the same album along with Kumar Gandharva. The album released to much popularity among the Marathi audience and the duet song was well received. She sang with veteran vocalist of agra charan Pt. Dinkar Kaikini in movie "Meera". The music was given by none other than Pt. Ravi Shankar.[7]


Telugu cinema

Vani's contribution towards Telugu cinema and devotional songs has been extensive and widespread. She recorded her first Telugu song for the film Abhimanavanthulu (1973). The song "Eppativalekaadura Naa Swami" composed by S. P. Kodandapani was a classical dance based song. Her songs for the film Pooja (1975) brought her to the forefront in Telugu cinema. The songs "Poojalu Cheya" and "Ennenno Janmala Bandham" became household hits and cemented her position. It was for the K. Viswanath's musical film Sankarabharanam (1979), Vani increased her popularity by singing five songs and winning her second National Film award for all the songs collectively. She was also awarded with Andhra Pradesh government's Nandi Award for Best Female Playback Singer for the same songs. She went on to collaborate with director Viswanath and music director K. V. Mahadevan for many films like Seetamalakshmi (1978), Sruthilayalu (1987), Sankarabharanam and Swati Kiranam. Later in 1990, the same team produced the film Swati Kiranam which was again musically noted and all the songs sung by Vani were received well. She received her third National Film Award for the film.

Apart from K. V. Mahadevan, Vani recorded many Telugu songs for Rajan–Nagendra, Satyam, Chakravarthy, M. S. Viswanathan and Ilaiyaraaja. She recorded most of the dubbed songs from Tamil composed by Ilaiyaraaja.

Year Film Song Composer(s) Co-singer(s)
1975 Pooja "Anthata Nee Roopam" Rajan–Nagendra S. P. Balasubrahmanyam
"Ennenno Janmala"
"Ningi Nela Okatayeene"
"Poojalu Cheya Poolu"
1978 Maro Charitra "Vidhi Cheyu Vinthalanni" M. S. Viswanathan
Vayasu Pilichindi "Nuvvadigindi Enaadaina" Ilaiyaraaja
1979 Guppedu Manasu "Kanne Valapu Kannela Pilupu" M. S. Viswanathan S. P. Balasubrahmanyam
"Nenaa Paadanaa Paata"
1980 Circus Ramudu "Suridu Sukkithukundi" K. V. Mahadevan
Sankarabharanam "Broche Varevaru Ra" K. V. Mahadevan S. P. Balasubrahmanyam
"Dorakunaa Ituvanti Seva"
"Manasa Sancharare"
"Paluke Bangaaramaayena"
"Ye Teeruga Nanu"
1981 Seethakoka Chiluka "Minneti Sooridu Vachenamma" Ilaiyaraaja S. P. Balasubrahmanyam
"Saagara Sangamame"
"Alalu Kalalu"(Duet) Ilaiyaraaja
"Alalu Kalalu"(Solo)
1984 Mangammagari Manavadu "Sri Suryanarayana" K. V. Mahadevan P. Bhanumathi
Srimadvirat Veerabrahmendra Swami Charitra "Srungara Rasaraja" Susarla Dakshinamurthi
Sri Santhoshimatha Varatha Mahathyamu "Santhoshimathanu Sevinchandi" K. V. Mahadevan K. J. Yesudas
"Nataname Naa Dhanamu"
1987 Sankeertana "Devi Durga Devi" Ilaiyaraaja S. P. Balasubrahmanyam
Sruthilayalu Aalokaye Shree Bala" K. V. Mahadevan
"Inni Raasula Yuniki" S. P. Balasubrahmanyam
"Shri Gananatham" Purnachandar
1988 Swarnakamalam "Andela Ravamidhi" Ilaiyaraaja S. P. Balasubrahmanyam
Gharshana "Rojalo Lethavannele" Ilaiyaraaja
"Oka Brundavanam"
"Kurisenu Virijallule" S. P. Balasubrahmanyam
1992 Swati Kiranam "Theli Manchu Karigindi" K. V. Mahadevan
"Pranati Pranati"
"Jaliga Jabilamma" K. S. Chithra
"Shruti Neevu"
"Konda Konallo Loyallo"
"Om Guru"
"Shivani Bhavani Sarvani"
"Vaishnavi Bhargavi"

Hindi cinema

Vani's good professional association with Vasant Desai resulted in her breakthrough with the film Guddi (1971) directed by Hrishikesh Mukherjee. Desai offered Vani to record three songs in the film amongst which the song "Bole Re Papihara", featuring Jaya Bachchan in the lead role, became a talk-of-the-town song and gave her instant recognition. Composed in Miyan Ki Malhar raag, the song showcased her classical prowess and subsequently fetching her many laurels and awards including the Tansen Samman (for best classical-based song in a Hindi film), the Lions International Best Promising Singer award, the All India Cinegoers Association award, and the All India Film-goers Association award for the Best Playback Singer in 1971. Her other song Humko Mann Ki Shakti Dena became a school prayer since the release of the song in 1971 and continues to be even now. She toured entire Maharashtra state accompanying her mentor, Desai, and taught many Marathi songs for school children.

She went on to sing a few songs each for music directors of Hindi cinema, which remain popular, including the Chitragupta song, a classical Naushad compositions More Saajan Souten Ghar from Pakeezah (1972) and Dulhan Badi Jadugarni, a duet with Asha Bhosle in Aaina (1977)), Madan Mohan composition Pyar Kabhi Kam Na Karna Sanam, a duet with Kishore Kumar in the film Ek Mutthi Aasmaan (1973)), R. D. Burman song Zindagi Mein Aap Aaye, a duet with Mukesh in Chhalia (1973), Shyamji Ghanshyamji composition Teri Jheel Si Gehri from film Dhuan Ki Lakeer, a duet with Nitin Mukesh, and the solo song Aa Balam composed by Kalyanji Anandji in the film Dharm Aur Qanoon.

She sang several songs composed by O.P. Nayyar from the film Khoon Ka Badla Khoon (1978) including duets with Mohammed Rafi and also with Uttara Kelkar and Pushpa Pagdhare).She sang the duet song Maine Tumhe Paa Liya with Rafi composed by Laxmikant Pyarelal in Jurm Aur Sazaa, and a duet with Manna Dey in Parinay (1974) composed by Jaidev and the solo song Pee Kahan in Solva Sawan (1979) by Jaidev.

The song "Mere To Giridhar Gopal" in Meera (1979), composed by Pandit Ravi Shankar, won her first Filmfare Award for Best Female Playback Singer.[12] She recorded as many as 12 bhajans for the film Meera which became highly popular.

Tamil cinema

While Vani's popularity continued to soar in Bollywood cinema, she started getting offers from the South Indian industry. In 1973, she recorded her first Tamil song for the film Thayum Seiyum under the music direction of S. M. Subbaiah Naidu. However, the film remains unreleased till date and the song remained in the cans. Her first released song was a duet romantic song with T. M. Soundararajan for the film Veettukku Vandha Marumagal (1973). The song "Or Idam Unnidam" was composed by the duo Shankar–Ganesh, with whom, Vani went on to record maximum songs in Tamil cinema. Immediately after this, she was employed by one of the most successful director-composer duos, K. Balachander and M. S. Viswanathan, for their successful film Sollathaan Ninaikkiren for a solo song "Malarpol Sirippathu Pathinaaru". Thus began her long association with the top rated music directors in Tamil cinema. Her biggest break came through the song "Malligai En Mannan Mayangum" from the film Dheerga Sumangali (1974), again composed by M. S. Viswanathan. The song received laurels and accolades for both its composition and vocal rendition. It was in the same year, she recorded a duet song with S. P. Balasubrahmanyam for music director Vijaya Bhaskar for the film Engamma Sapatham. It was later reported that Vani's voice featured in all the films which had Vijaya Bhaskar as the composer in both Tamil and Kannada film industries.

The year 1975 turned out to be the first most eventful year for Vani since she won her first National Film Award for Best Female Playback Singer for the songs she rendered in the film Apoorva Raagangal. The songs "Ezhu Swarangalukkul" and "Kelviyin Nayagane" made her popularity soar to heights and she became known as the singer who would always get selected to sing difficult compositions. She was flooded with singing offers from all the top rated music composers including M. S. Viswanathan, Kunnakkudi Vaidyanathan, Sankar Ganesh, V. Kumar, K. V. Mahadevan, G. K. Venkatesh and Vijaya Bhaskar. In 1977, she first recorded her voice for Ilaiyaraaja's composition in the film Bhuvana Oru Kelvi Kuri. She won her first Tamil Nadu State Film Award for Best Female Playback for the song "Naane Naana" composed by Ilaiyaraaja for the film Azhage Unnai Aarathikkiren (1979). With Ilaiyaraaja, Vani went on to record many popular songs in the 1980s for the films such as Mullum Malarum (1978), Rosappo Ravikaikaari (1979), Anbulla Rajinikanth (1984), Nooravathu Naal (1984), Vaidehi Kathirunthal (1984), Oru Kaidhiyin Diary (1985) and Punnagai Mannan (1986). In 1994, composer A. R. Rahman recorded her voice for the film Vandicholai Chinraasu for a duet song with S. P. Balasubrahmanyam. Later in 2014, she recorded a portion of the Thiruppugazh composed by Rahman, for the period film Kaaviyathalaivan and followed it with the song "Narayana" in the film Ramanujan.

Vani recorded thousands of Tamil songs both in solo and duet formats. Many of her duet songs have been recorded along with T. M. Soundararajan, P. B. Srinivas, K. J. Yesudas, S. P. Balasubrahmanyam and Jayachandran. Songs like "Ezhu Swarangalukkul", "Keliviyin Nayagane", "Ennulil Engo", "Yaaradhu Sollamal", "Megamae Megamae", "Kavidhai Kelungal", "Nadhamenum Kovililae", "Aana Kana" and "Sugamana Raagangale" are considered amongst the best compositions to be recorded in Vani's voice.

Malayalam cinema

Vani Jayaram made her Malayalam debut in 1973 by recording the solo song "Sourayudhathil Vidarnnoru" composed by Salil Chowdhary for the film Swapnam.[13] The song became hugely popular giving a good credibility to Vani and gave her career a breakthrough. She went on to record over 600 songs in Malayalam cinema. Vani collaborated with all the popular Malayalam composers such as M. K. Arjunan, G. Devarajan, M. S. Viswanathan, R. K. Shekhar, V. Dakshinamoorthy, M. S. Baburaj, Shyam, A. T. Ummer, M. B. Sreenivasan, K. Raghavan, Jerry Amaldev, Kannur Rajan, Johnson, Raveendran and Ilaiyaraaja. Her rendition for the song "Aashada Maasam", composed by R. K. Shekhar for the film Yudhabhoomi (1976) met with wide appreciation and further increased her popularity. In 1981, she sang "Kanana Poikayil Kalabham" along with K. J. Yesudas in the composition of M. K. Arjunan for the film Ariyapedatha Rahasyam directed by P. Venu. After a long hiatus, Vani returned to Malayalam cinema in 2014 by recording a duet song for the film 1983,[14] and followed it up with a duet song in Action Hero Biju (2016).

Some of Vani's Malayalam songs including "Etho janma kalpanayil", "Poo kondu poo moodi" (Palangal), "Manjil chekkerum" (Raktham), "Onnanam Kunninmel" (Airhostess), "nanam nin kannil" (kelkatha sabdham),"Manju pozhiyunnu" (Uthradarathri) "Thiruvonapularikal" (Thiruvonam), "Dhoomthana" (Thomasleeha), "Seemantha Rekhayil" (Aasheervaadam), "Naadan Paatile", "manjani kombil", "Nimishangal", "Thedi Thedi", "Moodal Manjumai Yamini", "Ee Raagadeepam", "Mandhaarapoo", "Taarake", "Hrudayathin Madhura", "Neelambarathile", "Navaneetha Chandrike", "Oru Raaga Nimishatil", "Thechi Pootha", "Yamini Nin Choodayil" amongst others are widely popular and considered among the best hits.[15] Most of Vani's duets in Malayalam are recorded with K. J. Yesudas and P. Jayachandran.

Title song "Marathe Marikurumbe" in the Film "Puli Murugan" rendered by Vani Jairam was short listed in 70 Songs which were considered eligible for Nomination to Oscar Award 2018, under the Category of "Original Song".[citation needed]

Kannada cinema

Music director Vijaya Bhaskar who worked with Vani in Tamil films introduced her to Kannada cinema in 1973 for the film Kesarina Kamala. She recorded two songs in the film which was immediately followed by her breakthrough song "Bhaavavemba Hoovu Arali" from the film Upasane (1974). This song cemented her position in Kannada films which lasted for three decades. After Vijaya Bhaskar gave her a career break, she was employed immediately by top running composers such as G. K. Venkatesh, M. Ranga Rao, Rajan–Nagendra, Satyam, Upendra Kumar, T. G. Lingappa, L. Vaidyanathan and Hamsalekha. The combination of Puttanna Kanagal (director) - Vijaya Bhaskar - Vani Jayaram produced many popular songs backed with strong female-centric themes. She modulated her voice and accent for the song "Happiest Moment" from the film Bili Hendthi (1975).

With her contemporary singer S. Janaki, Vani recorded few female duets notably "Madhumasa Chandrama" (Vijaya Vani 1976) and "Teredide Mane O Baa Athithi" (Hosa Belaku 1982). With legendary actor-singer Dr. Rajkumar, she recorded many popular songs in 1980s. Most of her duet songs in Kannada have been with Rajkumar, P. B. Srinivas, S. P. Balasubrahmanyam, P. Jayachandran and K. J. Yesudas. Some of her most memorable songs include "Ee Shatamanada Madari Hennu", "Besuge Besuge", "Belli Modave Elli Oduve", "Jeevana Sanjeevana", "Deva Mandiradalli", "Haadu Haleyadaadarenu", "Kannada Naadina Karavali", "Priyathama Karuneya Thoreya", "Sada Kannali Pranayada", "Endendu Ninnanu Marethu", "Hodeya Doora O Jothegara".

Other languages

Besides Hindi and South Indian languages, Vani Jairam has made recordings in Gujarati, Marathi, Marwari, Haryanvi, Bengali, Oriya, English, Bhojpuri, Rajasthani, Badaga, Urdu, Sanskrit, Punjabi and Tulu 19 languages totally. She has been awarded many prestigious awards, among them are Best Female Playback Singer for states of Gujarat (1975), Tamil Nadu (1980) and Orissa (1984).One of her most famous Marathi songs, "Runanubandhachya", is a duet with the classical Hindustani singer Kumar Gandharva. This song was composed by Vani's mentor Vasant Desai for a Marathi drama called Dev Deenaghari Dhaavlaa. The lyrics were written by Bal Kolhatkar.[citation needed].

Vani Jairam has recorded "Holi Songs" and "Thumri Dadra & Bhajans" with Pandit Briju Maharaj. She has also recorded "Gita Govindam" composed by Prafullakar with Odissi Guru Kelucharan Mohopatra playing the Pakhawaj. Vani Jairam has also released "Murugan Songs" with songs written by her with music composed by her.


The P. Suseela Trust honoured Vani Jairam at a function in Hyderabad, with a citation and a purse of one lakh. The event was widely covered on television. On 28 May 2014, Vani was felicitated in Bhubaneshwar for her contribution to Odia cinema. Preceding it was the PBS Puraskar Award in Hyderabad, instituted in memory of the inimitable P.B. Srinivas. On 30 July 2014, Yuva Kala Vahini, an organisation in Hyderabad, presented her the 'Pride of Indian Music' Award.[16]

National Film Awards

Filmfare Award

State awards

Other awards

  • 1972 – Mian Tansen Award Best Film Playback Singer of 'Classical Song' in Films for "Bol Re Papi Hara" given by Sur Singar Samsad, Mumbai.
  • 1979 – Her songs in the Pandit Ravi Shankar scored film Meera brought her the Film World (1979) Cine Herald (1979) for "Mere To Giridhar Gopal".
  • 1991 – Kalaimamani Award from Tamil Nadu State for her contribution to Tamil film music.
  • 1992 – The youngest artist to be awarded the "Sangeet Peet Samman"
  • 2004 – M.K. Thyagarajar Bhagavathar – Life Time Achievement Award from Tamil Nadu Government[17]
  • 2005 – Kamukara Award for her outstanding contribution to film music in general and in all the four South Indian languages in particular.[18]* 2006 – Mudhra Award of Excellence from Mudhra Academy, Chennai.[19]
  • 2012 – Subramanya Bharathi award for her contribution to music.[20]
  • 2014 - Life Time Achievement Award of Radio Mirchi given at Hyderabad on 16 August 2014
  • 2014 - Asiavision Awards - Best Playback Singer Award for the song 'Olanjali Kuruvi' from the Film "1983'
  • 2014 - Kannadasan Award by Kannadasan Kazagam, Coimbatore[21]
  • 2015 - Life Time Achievement Award from Raindropss on Women Achievers Award Ceremony Chennai.
  • 2016 - Red fm Music awards 2016 for Best Duet with Yesudas
  • 2017 - Vanitha Film Awards -Best singer
  • 2017 - Ghantasala National Award[22]
  • 2017 - North American Film Awards - New York- 22 July 2017 - Best Female Playback Singer - Malayalam
  • 2018 - M.S. Subbulakshmi Award given by Sankara Nethralya - Chennai - 27 January 2018
  • 2018 - Pravasi Express Awards Singapore, Life Time Achievement Award - 14 July 2018.

Other titles

  • 2004: Kamukara Award[23]
  • 2007: South Indian Meera[24]


  1. ^ Sampath, Janani (29 November 2012). "Serenading a dream". The New Indian Express. Retrieved 29 April 2014.
  2. ^ "Lending 'Vani' to patriotism". The Hindu. 12 June 2006. Retrieved 23 November 2016.
  3. ^ "Vani Jairam Odia Songs".
  4. ^ a b "Sweet music for the ears". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 5 December 2004. Archived from the original on 10 December 2004.
  5. ^ "South Filmfare Awards 2012 winners' list". Bollywood Life. 23 July 2013. Retrieved 23 November 2016.
  6. ^ Best Female Singer Award by NAFA in 2017
  7. ^ a b "The song that rained many songs". The Hindu. 12 November 2015. Retrieved 23 November 2016.
  8. ^ B Sivakumar (5 January 2015). "Queen Mary's College, the home of musicians, on song". The Times of India. Retrieved 26 April 2018.
  9. ^ Asha Krishnakumar (April 2003). "The end of a women's college?". Frontline. 20 (8).
  10. ^ "When Mrs.Vani Jayaram met me". The Hindu. 12 June 2006. Retrieved 23 November 2016.
  11. ^ "I do not abuse my voice: Vani Jairam". The Times of India. 13 January 2017.
  12. ^ Nostalgia unlimited: Vani Jairam's songs in Malayalam continue to enchant a new generation of music lovers, The Hindu, 2 December 2005.
  13. ^ Swapnam: 1973 The Hindu (2 February 2014)
  14. ^ In conversation with Vani Jairam The Hindu (5 November 2017)
  15. ^ 50 Vani Jayaram Hits (19 May 2011)
  16. ^ MALATHI RANGARAJAN. "Voice and versatility". The Hindu. Chennai, India. Retrieved 18 August 2014.
  17. ^
  18. ^ "Vani Jairam – accolades as a way of life". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 7 January 2005. Archived from the original on 9 February 2005.
  19. ^ "Award for Vani Jairam". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 17 November 2006. Archived from the original on 28 November 2006.
  20. ^ "With another award in her kitty, Vani Jairam sings on". The Times of India. Archived from the original on 11 April 2013.
  21. ^ Malathi Rangarajan (31 July 2014). "Voice and versatility". The Hindu. Retrieved 8 October 2016.
  22. ^ "Vani Jairam gets Ghantasala national award". The Hindu. Andhra Pradesh, India. 25 April 2017.
  23. ^ "The Hindu". 13 November 2004. Archived from the original on 26 January 2013. Retrieved 18 January 2009.CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  24. ^ "Title unknown". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 28 May 2007. Archived from the original on 3 November 2012. Retrieved 18 January 2009.

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