R. K. Shekhar

R. K. Shekhar

Photo of R. K. Shekhar
Background information
Birth name Rajagopala Kulashekhara
Born (1933-06-21)21 June 1933
Origin Tiruvallur, British India (presently Tamil Nadu)
Died 30 September 1976(1976-09-30) (aged 43)
Genres Film score, classical
Occupation(s) Film composer, music director, Arranger, Music conductor
Instruments Harmonium
Years active 1964 1976

Rajagopala Kulashekhara [Tamil: ராஜகோபால குலசேகரா] (21 June 1933 – 30 September 1976) was an Indian music composer who worked mainly for Malayalam movies. He composed music for 52 films (23 in Malayalam with 127 songs), and was the music conductor for more than 100 films. He is best known as the father of music composer A. R. Rahman.

His debut song as a music director was "Chotta Muthal Chudala Vare" ("from cradle to grave") which was a big hit in Kerala. This was composed for the film Pazhassi Raja (1964).

Early life

He was born to Rajagopala Bhagavathar, a harikatha exponent, in a family in Tiruvallur,Tamilnadu. His entry into film music was opened through his extra ordinary performances on harmonium for Theatre Plays. He started his career in film industry as an assistant to music director M. B. Sreenivasan. Later on he conducted, arranged music for famous Malayalam Music directors , M.K. Arjunan and V. Dakshinamoorthy. He was so much fascinated by the tunes created by these legends, that he would work very hard single-handedly to create the BGM of the songs they tuned to match its purity and standard thus making the song evergreen on par.Their association lasted till his death.


His career as an independent music composer started with the 1964 film Pazhassi Raja of which the philosophical song Chotta muthal chudala vare became a big hit. After his next work in Aisha, he turned back to arranging and conducting for other composers.

After a gap of 7 years, he returned to music composing through the film Anaathashilpangal in 1971. He composed music for Taxi Car by P. Venu in 1972. Then he went on to compose music for about 20 films. Due to the failure of these films in the box office, his songs went unnoticed and he lacked to get more opportunities for composing. His close friend in the industry was composer M. K. Arjunan. Starting from Arjunan master's first film, Shekhar assisted him in all his films till his death. Continuous hard work made Shekhars health condition worst. In all these days, Arjunan master was the care taker of him and his family.

He composed tunes for his last film, Chottanikkara Amma when he was on bed for treatment and he died leaving the project incomplete. Later on M.K.Arjunan completed the project by arranging and recording the songs that Shekhar composed.

Personal life

R. K. Shekhar was married to Kasthuri (Known as Kareema Begum after conversion to Islam). Their marriage took place in the most prominent shrine in India, the Tirumala Venkateswara Temple located in Tirupathi, Andhra Pradesh in Southern India. Shekhar & Kasthuri had four children, A. R. Reihana, A. R. Rahman, Fathima Rafiq and Ishrathqadhre.[1] Shekhar died at the age of 43.



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