Malayalam ghazal maestro Umbayee passes away, he was 68
Veteran ghazal singer Umbayee passed away in Kerala’s Aluva on Wednesday, at the age of 68. The singer had lung cancer, and passed away at a private hospital in Aluva. He is survived by his wife and three children.
Giving his condolences, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan in a statement said, “Umbayee, who was a part of the field of music for over 4 decades, played a crucial role in making ghazals popular amongst the public. Umbayee’s departure is a big loss to the world of ghazals.”
Born PA Ibrahim, Umbayee was a popular singer, and a disciple of Ustad Munawar Ali Khan. He was christened Umbayee by director John Abraham.
He was born in Mattancherry near Kochi in 1952 to Abu and Fatima. Growing up, Ibrahim always wanted to be a Tabla artist; however, he did not find support from his family for a career in Music.
In an interview to K Pradeep for The Hindu in September 2012, Umbayee had said, “My father was vehemently against my love for music. He wanted me to study and I was not interested. This conflict often turned bitter. I used to play the tabla, listened to music and played for programmes on the sly. From then on it has been a long struggle. But I did not let go of my passion. Every setback turned me steely.”
He struggled to become a musician, and was sent by his father to Mumbai to become an electrician. But while he was there, he found a teacher and studied music intermittently for seven years.
Umbayee did several odd jobs before his ghazal career picked up. He made Kerala’s first ghazal troupe, and the journey to becoming a popular singer was not easy. His first album was Pranamam – he has brought out at least a dozen ghazal albums since, and has composed the soundtrack for a movie called Novel with singer M Jayachandran.
Some of his popular songs include Paduka Saigal padoo, Akale mounam pol, Orikkal nee paranju.
Umbayee set ghazal tunes to the lyrics of ONV Kurup, Yusufali Kechery, K Satchidanandan, etc.