Radhika Thilak, known as the singer with a golden voice, succumbed to cancer on September 20 in a hospital in Kochi, at the age of 45. Radhika, who started her career as an artist at All India Radio, went on to sing for a number of Malayalam films, including Ottayaal Pattaalam, Kanmadam, Guru and Nandanam.
Radhika’s light music was extremely popular in Kerala, especially at a time when Doordarshan was the only available channel in many homes. Families would perch in front of the TV on Sunday evenings to watch her sing the melodious “Malayala Pazhamathan”, and more. Her voice had an incredible range – as evident in songs like “Manassil Midhuna Mazha” from Nandanam, and “Thengumee Kaattu Neeyalle” from Guru. She also performed on several stage shows. Unlike singers of the current generation, during performances she never let her facial expressions or body movements outperform the emotions in her voice.
Well-known Malayalam journalist Ravi Menon writes in Mathrubhumi that Radhika was a singer who never chased ambition. “Some songs she had sung specifically for the movie weren’t included in the final version. That hurt her. But she never made a fuss about it”, he writes.
As a tribute to her memory, we have compiled some of her best-loved songs:
Maya Manjalil – Ottayal Pattalam (1992) : Arguably Radhika’s most popular song. A beautiful melody with modern beats rendered by Venugopal and Radhika to the music of Sharreth.
Deva Sangeetham – Guru (1997) : Radhika lend her voice to a beautiful song in the classic Malayalam film, which had music scored by the maestro, Ilaiyaraaja. The pathos in the song was perfectly captured by the voices of KJ Yesudas and Radhika.
Mansil Midhuna Mazha – Nandanam (2002) : This fast-paced carnatic-based song showed Radhika’s mastery of the high notes.
Kaithapoo Manamenthe – Sneham (1998) : This traditional ‘Thiruvathirakali’ song was composed by Perumbavoor G Raveendranath.
Kanana Kuyile – Mr. Brahmachari (2003) : Another memorable melody by Radhika, this time with M.G Sreekumar, to music composed by Mohan Sithara.