M. K. Arjunan

M. K. Arjunan (Malayalam: എം.കെ. അർജുനൻ; 1 March 1936 – 6 April 2020) was an Indian film and theatre composer, known for his works in Malayalam cinema and the theatre of Kerala.[1] He was fondly referred to as Arjunan Master.

M. K. Arjunan
എം. കെ. അർജുനൻ
Arjunan master.jpg
Background information
Born(1936-03-01)1 March 1936
Chirattapalam, Cochin
Died6 April 2020(2020-04-06) (aged 84)
Kochi, Kerala, India
GenresFilm music, theatre music
Occupation(s)Theatre composer, film composer, music director
Years active1950-2019
Associated actsVayalar Rama Varma
K. J. Yesudas

Early LifeEdit

Arjunan was born at Chirattapalam in Fort Kochi (now part of India) as the youngest of 14 children born to Kochukunju and Paru, among whom only four survived childhood. Losing his father at a young age, the burden of looking after a big family fell on his mother (Parvathi). Unable to provide for all her children she sent Arjunan and his brother, Prabhakaran, to Jeevakarunyananda Ashram at Palani. It was here that Arjunan got his first lessons in music. Every evening, after school, Arjunan would join the other children in singing bhajans. Noticing something different in the young boy, the head of the ashram decided to give him music lessons. For the next few years Arjunan began learning music under Kumarayya Pillai.[2] He later learnt music under K.N Vijayarajan Master.[3]


During his youth, composing music was another turn in Arjunan's life. After attempts in small-time amateur plays, music composing grew into a serious hobby. Arjunan was soon sought after by almost every amateur troupe. He then graduated to the professional stage and was soon associated with top names like Changanassery Geedha, People's Theatre, Kalidasa Kalakendram, Desabhimani Theatres, Alleppey Theatres and KPAC. Arjunan Master went on to compose around 800 songs for 300 plays. This association grew into an intimate bond, which he maintained until his death.[4]

The next step was cinema. At a time when stalwarts like K. Raghavan, G. Devarajan and M. S. Baburaj ruled the roost, Arjunan managed to break into the scene and establish an identity of his own. "Karuthapurnami' was his debut movie as a composer which was released in 1968. His association with the leading lyricist Sreekumaran Thampi in almost 50 films was one of the most prolific composer-lyricist partnerships in Malayalam film industry.[5]

During a career spanning 50 years in film field, Arjunan Master has scored music for more than 500 songs in over 218 Malayalam films.[6]

He is also credited with giving A. R. Rahman his first musical break by giving him a chance to play keyboards in a film. He died on 6 April, 2020, at Kochi, Kerala.[7][8]

His last film was Vellaram Kunnile Vellimeenukal. This film song was written by Rajeev Alunkal.[9] His last music composition was on 2019 December for Sreek Music's three love songs written by Lyricist Sreekanth M Girinath (ശ്രീകാന്ത് എം. ഗിരിനാഥ്) [10] He died at his home at 3:30 AM IST on 6 April 2020, aged 84, and was cremated with full state honours at Palluruthy crematorium on the same day. Due to COVID-19, his funeral was conducted under strict protocols. He is survived by his wife Bharathi and five children - three daughters and two sons.



  1. ^ "'You need to be lucky in the world of films': M. K. Arjunan". The Hindu.
  2. ^ "The Original Master of Melody". The Hindu.
  3. ^ "Half a century, not out". The Hindu. 6 February 2006. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 16 January 2020.
  4. ^ "Kerala State Awards: The master composer is rewarded after 50 years". The New Indian Express.
  5. ^ "Sweet end to a long wait". Deccan Chronicle.
  6. ^ "A long musical journey". The Hindu. 28 April 2006. Retrieved 17 January 2010.
  7. ^ "Film fraternity hails Rahman, Pookutty for win". The Indian Express. India. 23 February 2009. Retrieved 29 June 2013.
  8. ^ "Exclusive Interview with M K Arjunan master about A R Rahman". Malayala Manorama.
  9. ^ "അവസാന അർജുന സംഗീതം രാജീവ് ആലുങ്കലിന്റെ വരികൾക്ക്". ManoramaOnline (in Malayalam). Retrieved 6 April 2020.
  10. ^ "അർജുനൻ മാഷിന്റെ അവസാന ഈണങ്ങൾ നെഞ്ചോടു ചേർത്ത് ശ്രീകാന്ത്". mathrubhumi (in Malayalam). Retrieved 8 April 2020.

External linksEdit