A grand musical odyssey

Devdaas Nambalat's breakthrough came after musician and music coordinator K D Vincent, after listening to his new album, approached him and offered him the chance.
Devdaas Nambalat
Devdaas NambalatPhoto | Express

KOCHI: It’s often presumed that one needs to be in their 20s and bubbling with the enthusiasm of youth to break into the film industry. Breaking this stereotype is Devdaas Nambalat, who, at 54, made his mark by lending voice to a song, Kaiviralil Abhayam, in the Malayalam version of the pan-India hit movie Yuva.

His breakthrough came after musician and music coordinator K D Vincent, after listening to his new album (which is yet to be released), approached him and offered him the chance. “The opportunity came by way of a friend — Rajesh, a mridangam artist, who invited me to sing for his music album being recorded in Stephan Devassy’s studio in Kochi. After listening to the song, Vincent sir approached me and gave me the offer,” he elaborates.

Hailing from a family of singers, Devdaas’ passion for music was kindled from a very early age. “During my childhood, I used to sing at various social gatherings. Though I had learned music lessons from a few teachers, I was never formally trained in the art,” says Devdaas, fondly called Shibi by his peers.

By the time he was 18, Devdaas was already a familiar face at local stage shows and festivals and even dubbed for a serial on Doordarshan. Later, during his college days, he joined the Cochin Bandore orchestra. “The band was formed by famous playback singer Thoppil Anto, who, after watching one of my performances, invited me to join his orchestra,” he recalls.

Devdaas was also part of the Sound of Music orchestra, which was headed by famous playback singer Manjula Gururaj, during his time in Bengaluru.

However, it was his stint with composer G Devarajan and music director M B Sreenivasan, the stalwarts of the Malayalam music industry, that moulded Devdaas into the soulful singer he is. “Working with these legends helped me hone my skills. I consider it an immense blessing to have shared the platform with them,” he says.

His parents too played no small part in cultivating and nurturing his talent. Devdaas says an interest in music runs deep in his family. “My mother has a natural gift for music and some of my close relatives are singers. My parents provided a solid foundation for me to pursue my passion. Their encouragement made me feel empowered to take risks and push myself to new heights,” he says.

In the past many years, Devdaas and his eight-member band Taraana rendered evergreen songs on various stages, enthralling the audience with evergreen melodies like ‘Oru Pushpam Mathramen’, ‘Swarga Gayike’, etc.

He says, “I feel it is my duty to introduce these songs to the new generation.” Currently, he is focusing on doing stage shows under the banner ‘Sangeetha Sallapam with Devdaas’. “Before every performance, I always make sure to understand the poet’s intentions and the meaning behind the composition which helps me to sing with authenticity and passion."

Devdaas’ advice to budding singers is to never lose hope. “With persistence and determination, one can always achieve success.”

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