Hariharan (singer)

Hariharan (born 3 April 1955) is an Indian playback, bhajan and ghazal singer from Trivandrum, whose songs have been featured mainly in Tamil and Hindi. Also he sang notable songs in Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada, Marathi and Bhojpuri films. He is an established Ghazal singer and one of the pioneers of Indian fusion music. In 2004, he was honoured with the Padma Shri by the Government of India[1] and is a two-time National Award winner.

Hariharan 2007 - still 27184.jpg
Hariharan in February 2014
Hariharan Anantha Subramani

(1955-04-03) 3 April 1955 (age 66)
OccupationPlayback singer
Years active1977–present
Musical career
InstrumentsVocals, Harmonium
LabelsColonial Cousins, Lesle Lewis, Gulshan Kumar

Hariharan, associating with Lesle Lewis, formed Colonial Cousins, a two-member band. They have cut many private music albums and also scored music for few feature films in Tamil cinema and Bollywood cinema.

On May 28, 2020, Hariharan and Late Gulshan Kumar's Hanuman Chalisa recorded under the label of T-Series crossed 1-billion views mark on YouTube,[2] making it the first devotional song in the world to do so.[3]


Hariharan did his schooling at Don Bosco High School, Matunga[4] and was graduated from SIES College of Arts, Science & Commerce, Mumbai.[5] Thereafter he pursued his studies at the St. Xavier's College, Mumbai.[6]


Film careerEdit

Hariharan at a concert
Hariharan performing at A R Rahman's concert, Sydney (2010)

At the start of his career, Hariharan did the concert circuit and also performed on TV. He sang for a number of TV serials (e.g., Junoon). In 1977, he won the top prize in the "All India Sur Singaar Competition" and was promptly signed on by the late music director Jaidev to sing for his new Hindi film Gaman (1978). His debut song "Ajeeb Sa neha Mujh Par Guzar gaya yaaron" in that movie became such a hit that it won him an Uttar Pradesh State Film Award, as well as a National Award nomination.[7]

Hariharan entered the world of Tamil films in 1992 introduced by debutant music director A.R. Rahman with the patriotic song "Thamizha Thamizha" in Maniratnam's film Roja.[8] He was judged best male playback singer in the 1995 Tamil Nadu State Government Film Awards for his soulful rendition of the song "Uyire Uyire" also by music director A.R Rahman in Maniratnam's Bombay (Hariharan sang the song with K.S. Chithra). Hariharan has been one of the most trusted singers of Rahman and has sung many songs for him in long list of movies that includes Muthu, Minsara Kanavu, Jeans, Indian, Mudhalvan, Taal, Rangeela, Indira, Iruvar, Anbe Aaruyire, Kangalal Kaithu Sei, Dasavathaaram, Sivaji, Alaipayuthey, Kannathil Muthamittal, Guru, Enthiran , No Means No etc. In 1998, Hariharan won the national award for the best playback singer for the soulful rendition of the song "Mere Dushman Mere Bhai" from the Hindi movie Border, composed by Anu Malik. Hariharan got another National Award for the Marathi song "Jiv Rangla" from Jogwa, set to tune by Ajay Atul in the year 2009.[9]

He has sung more than 500 Tamil songs and nearly 200 Hindi songs. He has also sung hundreds of songs in Malayalam, Telugu, Kannada, Marathi, Bengali and Odia languages.

Hariharan has acted in a Tamil film with Khushbu, Power of Women (2005), and played cameo roles in the Tamil film Boys and the Malayalam film Millennium Stars.[citation needed]


Hariharan is one of the foremost Indian ghazal singers and composers with more than thirty albums to his credit.[10] In his early career, he cut several successful ghazal albums, writing most of the scores himself. One of Hariharan's first ghazal albums was Aabshar-e-Ghazal with Asha Bhosle, which went gold in sales.[10]

Another outstanding ghazal album was Gulfam, which not only hit double platinum in sales but also fetched Hariharan the Diva Award for the Best Album of the Year in 1995.[10]

The other major ghazal albums by him are Hazir (1992), Jashn (1996), Halka Nasha (1996), Paigham (1997), Kaash (2000), and Lahore Ke Rang Hari Ke Sang (2005).[10] His live concert recordings, Hariharan in Concert (1990), Saptarishi (1996) and Swar Utsav (2001) were run away successes. His latest ghazal album is Lafzz... (2008). Hariharan worked with tabla maestro Zakir Hussain on his album Hazir.[10]

The album Lahore Ke Rang Hari Ke Sang won rave reviews and critical acclaim inside and outside India. A.R. Rahman was an avid listener of his ghazals way before roping him in to sing his first song in Tamil film music, "Thamizha Thamizha", for the film Roja.

Colonial CousinsEdit

Hariharan (left) and Leslie Lewis at the launch of "Once More"

The year 1996 was a career milestone; he formed the band Colonial Cousins with Mumbai-based composer and singer Lesle Lewis.[11] Their first album, Colonial Cousins was a fusion album and was the first Indian act to be featured on MTV Unplugged.[12] It won a string of awards including the MTV Indian Viewers' Choice award and Billboard Award for the Best Asian Music Group.[10][12]

By this single album, Hariharan established himself as one of the pioneers of Indian fusion music. The next albums by this band were The Way We Do It (1998) and Aatma (2001) but were fairly noticed. Colonial Cousins released their fourth studio album "Once More" on 29 October 2012 under the label Universal. The 2009 Tamil film Modhi Vilayadu had score and soundtrack composed by Colonial Cousins.[13] They also scored the 2010 Tamil film Chikku Bukku.

Recent yearsEdit

In 2004, he was awarded the Padma Shri and Yesudas Award for his outstanding performance in music.[14][15]

Hariharan collaborated with Pakistan based band Strings for a track called "Bolo Bolo".[16] He released an album called Destiny with Punjabi/bhangra artist Daler Mehndi.[17]

He coined the terminology "Urdu Blues" with his fairly successful album Kaash which featured musicians like Anandan Sivamani the percussion maestro, Ustad Rashid Mustafa on tabla, Ustad Liyaqat Ali Khan on sitar and Ustad Sultan Khan on sarangi.[citation needed]

He also performed the Swagatham song in the 2010 Commonwealth Games opening ceremony held in New Delhi on 3 October.[18]

Hariharan at a concert in Thiruvananthapuram

During 2010–2011, he appeared in a music show in Jaya TV named Hariyudan Naan which was aired every Thursday, Friday and Saturday.[19]

Hariharan collaborated with Sarangan Sriranganathan for "Sruthi" at the Sydney Hill Centre and the Melbourne Robert Blackwood Hall Australia in 2011[20] He unofficially released ghazal singer Adithya Srinivasan's first international single 'Gham e Duniya' at the Gateway Hotel, Bangalore.[21] In an interview in 2012, he said that he was no longer receiving offers to sing for Bollywood as music composers wanted to experiment with singers from the younger generation.[22]

He was selected as judge for Asianet Star Singer Season 6 programme, a very popular music contest television show for upcoming singers in Malayalam. Hariharan was a part of the 'Royal Stag Barrel Select MTV Unplugged', aired in December 2015.[23]

Major awardsEdit

Civilian Awards
National Film Awards
Kerala State Film Awards
Swaralaya-Kairali-Yesudas Award
  • 2004 – For his outstanding contribution to Indian film music[15]
Tamil Nadu State Film Awards
Nandi Awards
Asianet Film Awards
Kalakar Awards-
  • 8th Kalakar Awards 2000 – for Best Male Playback Singer
Filmfare Awards South-
Vijay Awards-


Reality show as Judge
Year Title channel language
2019–present Surya super singer Surya TV Malayalam
2017 Super Star junior 5 Amrita TV Malayalam
2014 Saregamapa Zee Bangla Bengali
2011 Super Star 2 Amrita TV Malayalam
Hariyudan Naan Jaya TV Tamil


Albums by Colonial Cousins

Featured albumsEdit