- Birth Date: 03 Apr 1955
- Birth Place: Mumbai
Born in Bombay on April 3rd, 1955, Hariharan has bachelors degrees in science and law. The son of renowned Carnatic vocalists, the late Ananthasubramani ("H. A. S. Mani") from Trivandrum and Shrimati Alamelu, Hariharan naturally inherited his parents' musical talents.Hariharan's mother was his first guruji. From her he picked up Carnatic music skills. Hariharan's parents were musically open-minded and the young Hariharan was encouraged to listen to Hindustani music. Later, in his teens, inspired by the songs of Mehdi Hassan, Hariharan developed a passion for ghazals and started training in Hindustani music from Ustad Ghulam Mustafa Khan. He used to put in nine hours of singing practice everyday. Hariharan's affinity for ghazals lies in the fact that ghazals offer, in his words, "immense scope for innovation". The committed Hariharan also put heart and soul into learning Urdu when he decided to become a ghazal singer. He has perfected his Urdu diction to such standards that even his audiences in Lucknow, the heartland of the language, have been wowed over.
It was in 1977 that he bagged the top prize in the All-India Sur Singaar competition and was promptly signed on by the late music director Jaidev to sing for the Hindi film ‘Gaman’. His ghazal ‘Ajeeb saane he mujh par qarar’ in that movie became such a hit that it won Hariharan an Uttar Pradesh state award, after which his career as a vocalist spiraled upward.
In his early years Hariharan did the concert circuit and also performed on TV. He sang for a number of TV serials, e.g., "Junoon". In addition, he cut several successful ghazal albums. He wrote the scores himself for most of these ghazal albums. One of Hariharan's first ghazal albums was "Abshaar-e-Ghazal" with Asha Bhosle, which scored Gold in sales. 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 1994. Meanwhile, Hariharan sang in a number of Hindi movies such as "Sahibaan", "Lamhe", "Raam Nagari", "Dard Ke Rishte", Zamana" and "Sindoor".
The Bombay-based Hariharan made his debut in the Tamil singing world in 1993 with the patriotic hit song "Thamizha thamizha" in "Roja" under the baton of A R Rehman. Two years later, Hariharan was adjudged "Best Male Playback Singer" in the Tamilnadu State Government Film Awards for 1995. It was teasing manner in which he sang "Konjanaal poru thalaivaa" (Aasai) that won Hariharan this honour. Subsequently, Tamil singing assignments began pouring in for Hariharan, and today there is no doubt that he is the most sought-after singer in South India.
The year 1996 was a milestone in Hariharan's career, when the release of the Indian-English fusion album "Colonial Cousins" skyrocketed him to unprecedented fame. A collaborative effort with Bombay-based composer/singer Leslie Lewis, "Colonial Cousins" became the first Indian act to be featured on MTV Unplugged and also won the pair a string of national and international awards, including the MTV Indian Viewers' Choice award and US Billboards award. In this album, Hariharan has proven his boundless virtuosity. He has also co-written the musical scores for some of the pieces. One very powerful song in the album is "Let me see the love", in which Hariharan scales through Hamsathwani raga in three octaves, hitting the lowest and highest notes with equal facility. Another interesting piece is "Feel Alright", in which Hariharan sings the English lyrics in typical Indian folk style, complete with gamaks. In "Rain" and "Tere mere aankhon", the ghazal singer comes to the fore subtly, while in "Krishna" and "It's gonna be alright", the Carnatic singer in Hariharan surfaces. The other songs in the album are equally melodious and showcase Hariharan's hitherto little-known versatility.
Another milestone year was 1998, when the patriotic song "Mere dushman mere bhai" from the Hindi movie "Border" won Hariharan the coveted National Award for "Best Male Playback Singer". That award capped a quest for excellence that started 20 years earlier when "Ajeeb saane he mujh par qarar" from "Gaman" won Hariharan a nomination for the National Award. Hariharan has developed a distinctive style of his own even though he admires the late Mohd Rafi and Kishore Kumar as well as S P Balasubramaniam and K J Jesudas. The long-underrated singer has finally arrived and will remain a permanent fixture on the Indian musical scene for a long time to come.
An only child, Hariharan lost his father when he was seven, and life could not have been entirely smooth. But his optimistic approach to life and jovial nature, coupled with a staunch love for music and his perseverance, must have stood him in good stead and brought him to the pinnacle of success today. He also came across as a little idealistic and guileless, the type who only sees the good in people, the type who is willing to oblige all. Yet, he does have set ideas about certain things and can be firm when he wants to.
Hariharan's wife Lalita petite and attractive,hardly looks 35 and a mother of two boys (11-year old Akshay and 5-year old Karan). She is no sari-clad mami. Her gentle and demure demeanour belies a strong will. Raised in Calcutta, the cartographer by training says her husband considers her Bengali in many ways, from the socialist leanings to the non-conformism. Her simplicity in dressing -- which stands in stark contrast to her husband's flashier dress sense -- probably spawns from those socialist leanings. And, she is certainly a lady with a mind of her own. And a broad mind, too. She believes in the need for individual space, even between husbands and wives, and is often cool about Hari's appeal to women -- clearly a sign of trust. Nonetheless, once or twice, I could detect a healthy glimmer of concern about the expanding train of female fans and admirers ogling at her man. (For his part, in spite of the charm he oozes aplenty, Hari comes across as a devoted husband and father.) An easy-going person, Lalita can be bubbly and charming with some and reserved with others. She does not suffer fools gladly.
The lady has a remarkable talent for managing ter husband's career. She looks after his interests unobtrusively but with an eagle eye, ever concerned that none should exploit his amiable nature and short-change him. She is also something of a handywoman at home: while he was shopping for a portable cassette recorder for mum, it was she who was picking up cables, plugs and switches.
Husband and wife complement each other perfectly in a number of ways: while he is the indulgent parent, she plays the voice of authority with the kids (perhaps a legacy of her school-teacher days). While he appears to make decisions by intuition, she is the one who rationalises. While he splurges, she is the one more mindful of the bottomline.