Vani Jairam

Vani Jairam
Birth name Kalaivani
Born (1945-11-30) 30 November 1945[1]
Vellore, Tamil Nadu, India
Occupation(s) Playback singer
Instruments Vocals
Years active 1971 – current
Website Official website

Vani Jairam (born as Kalaivani on 30 November 1945), also credited as Vani Jayaram, is an Indian singer. She is best known as a playback singer in South Indian cinema. Vani's career started in 1971 and has spanned over four decades. She has done playback for over thousand Indian movies recording over 10,000 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 1970's until late 1990's. Apart from Hindi, she has sung in several Indian languages, such as Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada, Marathi, Odia, Gujarati and Bengali languages.[3]

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.[3] In 2012, she was honored with the Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award – South for her achievements in South Indian film music.[4]

Early life and career

Vani Jairam was born as Kalaivani in Vellore in Tamil Nadu, in a 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 Cuddalore 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.[5] At the age of 8, she gave her first public performance at the All India Radio, Madras. Post her studies, Vani was employed with the State Bank of India, Madras and later in 1967, she was transferred to the Hyderabad branch.[6]

Post her marriage in the late 1960's, Vani moved to Mumbai with her husband Jayaram to set up her family. Upon request, she was transferred to the Mumbai branch of her bank. Knowing her singing skills, Jayaram persuaded Vani to get trained in the Hindustani classical music and she got 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 was introduced to the composer Vasant Desai in 1969 who was recording a Marathi album with singer Kumar Gandharv. Upon listening to her voice, Desai roped in her to sing the song "Runanubandhacha" for the same album along with Kumar Gandharv. The album released to much popularity among the Marathi audience and the duet song was well received.[5]


In 1971, Jairam featured in the Hindi feature film Guddi. She recorded three songs for Guddi, and "Bole Re Papi Hara," a song based on the Hindustani raga "Miyan ki Malhar,". She was awarded 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.

She went on to sing a few songs each for music directors of Hindi cinema, including Chitragupta, Naushad (a classical song in Pakeezah (1972) and a duet with Asha Bhosle in Aaina (1977)), Madan Mohan (a duet with Kishore Kumar in the film Ek Mutthi Aasmaan), O.P. Nayyar (several songs from the film Khoon Ka Badla Khoon including duets with Mohammed Rafi and also with Uttara Kelkar and Pushpa Pagdhare), R. D. Burman (a duet with Mukesh in Chhalia), Kalyanji Anandji, Laxmikant Pyarelal, and Jaidev (a duet with Manna Dey in Parinay and a solo in Solwa Saawan). Her songs in Meera (1979), composed by Pandit Ravi Shankar, won her the Filmfare Award.[7] Around 1974, she shifted her base to Madras and soon became a sought-after singer in Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam cinema. In 1981, she sang Kanana Poikayil Kalabham along with K. J. Yesudas in the composition of M. K. Arjunan for the film Ariyapedatha Rahasiyam (1981) directed by P. Venu.She worked with almost all the leading music directors of south namely M. S. Viswanathan, M. B. Sreenivasan, K. V. Mahadevan, M. K. Arjunan, Jerry Amaldev Ilayaraaja and the noted Bengali music directorSalil Chowdhary. With the future Academy award winner, A. R. Rahman, she recorded a duet with S. P. Balasubramanyam in the song "Sugam sugam athu" for the film Vandicholai Chinnarasu in 1994.

Songs like Ezhu Swarangalukkul, Keliviyin Nayangane, Ennulil Engo, Yaaradhu sollamal, Megamae Megamae, Kavidhai Kelungal Nadhamenum "Aana kana" and "Sugamana ragangale" Priyathama Karuneya Thoreya, Sada kannali pranayada, Hodeya doora O jothegara and other songs are her musical tracks that were regarded as difficult.

Besides Hindi and Tamil, Vani Jairam has made recordings in Gujarati, Marathi, Marwari, Haryanvi, Bengali and Tulu, Malayalam, Kannada, Telugu and Oriya. 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. .

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.

Her more recently released songs include "Thiruppugazh" in the film soundtrack for Kaaviya Thalaivan, and "Narayana" in the film Ramanujan.


The P. Suseela Trust honoured Vani Jairam at a grand 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 films. Preceding it was the PBS Puraskar Award in Hyderabad, instituted in memory of the inimitable P.B. Srinivos. On 30 July 2014, Yuva Kala Vahini, an organisation in Hyderabad, presented her the 'Pride of Indian Music' Award.[8] ETV Kannada channel felicitated Vani jairam by giving the title Evergreen voice for her outstanding contribution to the Kannada film industry. Actor V. Ravi Chandran, actress Jayanthi, film maker Bhagawan, Vani's husband Jairam and others were present.She spoke to the audience in pure Kannada and sang some of her own Kannada film songs. Vani remembered Dr.Rajkumar on the stage and said that she is missing her favourite star.

National Film Awards

Filmfare Award

State Awards

Other Awards

Other titles


  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 2016-11-23.
  3. 1 2 "Sweet music for the ears". Chennai, India: The Hindu. 5 December 2004.
  4. "South Filmfare Awards 2012 winners' list:". Bollywood Life. 23 July 2013. Retrieved 2016-11-23.
  5. 1 2 "The song that rained many songs". The Hindu. 12 November 2015. Retrieved 2016-11-23.
  6. "When Mrs.Vani Jayaram met me". The Hindu. 12 June 2006. Retrieved 2016-11-23.
  7. Nostalgia unlimited: Vani Jairam's songs in Malayalam continue to enchant a new generation of music lovers, The Hindu, 2 December 2005.
  8. MALATHI RANGARAJAN. "Voice and versatility". The Hindu. Chennai, India. Retrieved 18 August 2014.
  10. "Vani Jairam – accolades as a way of life". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 7 January 2005.
  11. "Award for Vani Jairam". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 17 November 2006.
  12. "With another award in her kitty, Vani Jairam sings on – The Times of India". The Times of India.
  13. Malathi Rangarajan (31 July 2014). "Voice and versatility". The Hindu. Retrieved 8 October 2016.
  14. "The Hindu". 13 November 2004. Retrieved 18 January 2009.
  15. "The Hindu". Chennai, India. 28 May 2007. Retrieved 18 January 2009.
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