indian cinema heritage foundation

Kamukara Purushothaman

  • Born: 04/12/1930 (Thiruvattar)
  • Died: 25/05/1995
  • Primary Cinema: Malayalam
  • First film: Ponkathir (1953)

Kamukara Purushothaman was born in Thiruvattar in the Kanyakumari district. He studied music under the tutelage of Thiruvattar Krishna Pillai. Subsequently, he learnt under reputed musicians of the times like Kandala Kambar, Arumugham Pillai, Eraniel Sivarama Pillai and Arunachalam Annavi.

Kamukara had his arangettam (first public appearance) at the age of 13 at the Adi Kesava Temple, Tiruvattar. By 15, he was performing for the Travancore Broadcasting Station as a Carnatic vocalist. In 1950, when All India Radio was set up, he started performing there. Later, when AIR began to diversify its musical programmes by introducing light music, he found himself drifting towards different genres of light music. 

Kamukara entered the film industry as a singer in the year 1953, when he was23 years old. His first film was Ponkathir and he had sung four lines Asankathimiram. The lyrics were by Thirunainarkurichy Madhavan Nair and music by Brother Lakshmanan. His film career spanned over 20 years, over which he sang for 68 Malayalam films. Kamukara had sung over 1,500 songs for about 125 films in various languages including Tamil, Telugu and Kannada. He also voiced about 4,000 songs in the genre of light music in various AIR stations in the country.  He was the leading male singer in Malayalam films during the 50s and 60s till K.J. Yesudas appeared on the scene.

He sang tunes under leading music composers such as B.A.Chidambaranath, Brother Lakshmanan, V Dakshinamoorthy, K.Raghavan, M.S.Baburaj, L.P.R. Varma, M.B.Sreenivasan, Shyam, Darsan Raman, Jerry Amaldev, Mohan Sithara, Raveendran and A.T.Ummer. Atmavidyalayame in the film Harischandra (1955) and Ekanthathayude in the film Bhargavi Nilayam (1964) are widely considered to be among the all-time great songs of Malayalam film music.

Later in his career, Kamukara Purushothaman, along with K. P. Udayabhanu and other senior singers formed a music troupe by name Old is Gold and performed stage programs all over India and abroad. He had led more than 5000 stage performances both in India and abroad. 

Kamukara was a school teacher by profession and retired as the Principal of Thiruvattar Govt. School. He died suddenly on 26 May 1995 after suffering from a massive heart attack while on a journey to Thiruvananthapuram. He was aged 64 at the time of his death. He is survived by his wife, children and grandchildren.