THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Eminent Malayalam poet P Bhaskaran, who left a deep impression in Kerala's cultural realm as writer, lyricist and director for over five decades, died at his residence here on Sunday, family sources said.
He was 83 and had been keeping unwell for quite some time.
He is survived by his wife and four children. Bhaskaran, who dominated Malayalam cinema along with Vayalar Ramavarma as top-notch lyricist for long, had penned hundreds of songs known for their romantic charm and soft lyrical touch.
He was instrumental in freeing Malayalam film music from the influence of the Hindi and Tamil playback styles in the 1950s, by writing simple and lucid lines set to original music by veteran directors. Still, many of his widely appreciated scores are hailed for their 'ghazal touch'.
Bhaskaran's vintage numbers, most of them composed by K Raghavan and MS Baburaj, form part of the Malayalis' nostalgia.
His songs in the 1960s launched careers of top singers including KJ Jesudas and Jayachandran, and made S Janaki one of the most favourite female voices in Malayalam.
He is also a trail-blazer of modern Malayalam film and the 1959 classic 'Neelakkuyil', which he co-directed with Ramu Karyat, is regarded in Kerala as the first successful attempt to hold a mirror to social realities.
Hailing from Kodungallur in Thrissur district in Kerala, Bhaskaran's early writings were inspired by the freedom struggle and the leftist agitations to create an egalitarian society.
A card-holding communist,one of his early popular poems was 'Vayalar Garjikkunnu', penned as a literary tribute to the revolutionaries of the Punnapra-Vayalar uprising.
Later, he distanced himself from the communist party and idelolgy and his subsequent poems are known for their humanism and romanticism.
Bhaskaran has also had a stint with All India Radio as staff artist at Kozhikode in the 1950s, where he came in close contact with many of his associates including K Raghavan and Baburaj. In his radio days,he scripted a large number of audio plays and acted in many of them.
He, however, gave up the job and moved to Chennai as editor of 'Jaya Keralam,' a periodical that opened its pages to the new writing in the 1960s.
The big film hits, known for the Bhaskaran lyrics of this period, include 'Laila Majnu,' 'Bhargavi Nilayam,' 'Rarichan Enna Pauran' and 'Nayarupidicha Pulivalu.'
He was equally conversant in turning out humour songs, many of them set in beats of 'Mappila Pattu', the musical tradition fostered by Malabar Muslims.
Since the mid-1960s he mostly spared his creative talent for cinema as lyricist, script writer and director. He also acted in some of his films.
Bhaskaran had served as Chairman of the Kerala Film Development Corporation and was founder-chairman of Asianet, Malayalam's first cable television venture.