His background music enriched many a film

Isaac Thomas Kottukapally gave superb music to acclaimed films

KOZHIKODE Isaac Thomas Kottukapally, who died in Chennai at the age of 72, was one of the finest composers of background music in Indian cinema. One national and four State awards he won underline that fact, but he lived his life away from the limelight, letting his music speak.

Kottukapally was not the among the most prolific of composers, but he came up with some splendid music in a career spanning over three decades. He worked almost exclusively in art-house cinema and many of his films went on to win national and international claim.

Those films include Dweepa, Hasina and Gulabi Talkies (Kannada), Aadum Koothu (Tamil), Kamli (Telugu), Bhavam, Margam, Oridam, Kathavasheshan and Kutty Srank and Aadaminte Makan (Malayalam), which fetched him the national award in 2011. He was often the first choice for some of India’s acclaimed directors, such as Girish Kasaravalli, Shaji N. Karun and T.V. Chandran.

FTII product

They preferred to work with Kottukapally because few composers understood cinema as well as he did. That is not surprising, though. For, he had learnt direction from the Film and Television Institute of India, Pune.

“I don’t think you could find anybody else like Kottukapally in Indian cinema,” Pradeep Nair, director of Oridam, told The Hindu. “Since he studied direction and scriptwriting from India’s premier film institute, he knew precisely what the director needed.”

You would have expected a graduate of the Pune institute to make films, rather than concentrating just on music. He had shot several ad films, though.

“I remember watching one of the ads he shot for a jewellery shop in Kottayam, from where he hailed from, and it was so very well made,” recalled Pradeep. “That used to be screened at cinemas (those were pre-television days) and it was extremely popular. For some of those ads, he had worked with A.R. Rahman, who was just starting out at that time.”

Kottukapally had plans to direct feature films, too. “He had finished writing scripts for three or four films,” said Pradeep. “I had read them and they had the potential to become good films. He really wanted to direct a film.”

That was not to be. His music, however, enriched many a film.

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