Veteran playback singer Vani Jairam who has sung in over a dozen languages in a career spanning over five decades passed away on Saturday at her residence in Chennai. She was 78.
Known for her vocal range and ability to adapt to any difficult composition, Jairam began her singing career in Bollywood and her first break came in the Hindi film ‘Guddi’ (1971) directed by Hrishikesh Mukherjee. The song ‘Bole Re Papihara’, featuring Jaya Bachchan in the lead role catapulted the singer into fame. Jairam who lived alone was found dead with bruises on her forehead, according to police.
According to Malarkodi, the singer’s househelp had arrived for work, as usual, this morning but when she did not receive any response she alerted the singer’s sister Uma. After Uma and Malarkodi entered the house using a set of duplicate keys they found the singer unconscious in her bedroom with bruises on her forehead. Police arrived and found her dead.
The deceased’s body has been sent to Kilpauk Government Hospital.
Triplicane DC Shekhar Deshmukh said an investigation is underway.
The singer was honoured with Padma Bhushan, India’s third-highest civilian award ahead of Republic Day this year.
Born as Kalaivani in Tamil Nadu’s Vellore, to a Tamil family of classically trained musicians, Jairam’s career started in 1971.
She lent her voice for the playback for over a thousand Indian films and recorded over several thousand songs. The late singer also recorded thousands of devotionals and private records, as well as performed in solo concerts in India and overseas.
She 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.
She has sung in Kannada, Tamil, Hindi, Telugu, Malayalam, Marathi, Odia, Gujarati, Haryanvi, Assamese, Tulu, and Bengali, among others.
She has worked with a slew of renowned composers like KV Mahadevan, Chakravarthy, Sathyam, Ilayaraja, and MS Vishwanathan.