Born in 1933, AT Ummer shared North Kerala, football and music with K. Raghavan
and settled on film music through his connections in the field. After some initial
ineffective releases, it was the director A. Vincent who found out Ummer’s abilities. In the film ‘Almaram’
in 1969, he composed the soft ‘pinneyum inakkuyil’ and the pleasant ‘noothnaganathil’.
Two years later, Vincent made the musical hit ‘Abhijathyam’ which established A.T.
Ummer in the field. The melodies ‘vrishchikarathrithan’, ‘chembakapoonkavanathile’,
‘kalyanakkuruvikku’ and ‘mazhamukilolivarnan’, along with the comedy song ‘thallu
thallu’, became hit. In 1972 came Vincent’s another musical hit ‘Theerthayathra’.
Ummer responded with the highly emotional romantic ‘anuvadikkoo devi’, a grand devotional
‘ambike jagadambike’, a sad devotional ‘kolloorilum’ and a joyful ‘marivillu panthalitta’.
All these serious films (Madhu in the lead) had P. Bhaskaran as the lyricist. But
A. T. Ummer didn’t form any team. He worked with a lot of lyricists.
He worked for the hitmaker Sasikumar also starting with the song ‘priyamullavale’.
In ‘Aranyakandam’, P. Bhaskaran recycled his lyrics of an old song (the hero reminiscences
the childhood days when he and his girlfriend stood together saving themselves from
the rain by making the dress of his girlfriend an umbrella) and it became ‘ee vazhiyum
ee marathanalum’. It had the sad devotional ‘yadunandana’. Sasikumar’s ‘Abhimanam’
is immortalized by the song ‘pottikkaranjukondomane’ written by Sreekumaran Thampi
and sung with all the sorrow by Yesudas.
The stylish ‘oru madhurikkum vedanayo’ was also composed by him.
In ‘Ulsavam’, he composed the very pleasant ‘swayamvarathinu’ and the soft and erotic
‘adyasamagamalajja’, both sung by Yesudas and Janaki.
After 1975, A. T. Ummer got more opportunities and he responded with good songs
also. ‘Alinganam’ was another hit in which he composed the happy ‘hemantham thozhuthu’,
the modern and stylish ‘nimishadalangal’ and the very soft ‘thusharabindukkale’.
Several nice songs followed like the sad ‘marubhoomiyil vanna’, the devotional ‘vrindavanam
swargamakiya’, the sweet ‘kunkumappottiloorum’, the classical ‘rathidevathasilpame’,
the all-time hit ‘oru nimisham tharoo’, the soft ‘karpoorathulasipanthal’, the very
soft Janaki/Yesudas song ‘neelajalasayathil’, the poetic ‘varnavum neeye’, another
all-time great ‘devi nin chiriyil’, the devotional ‘viswam chamachum’ etc.
He was not considered for Muslim songs as he had a soft and serious style, but in
1978, he got an opportunity in ‘Agni’ and he celebrated with the native Muslim tunes
in ‘kattu paranje’, ‘sulthante kottarathil’ and ‘kannan pokkaru’.
In the same
year, the ‘Adavukal pathinettu’ and ‘Avalude ravukal’ were released.
The three songs in the former were in different styles – an intoxicating ‘anupamasoundaryame’
sung by Yesudas, a joyful and teasing ‘sooryanamskaram’ sung inimitably by Janaki
and the happy ‘thamarapoo’ also sung by Janaki. ‘Avalude ravukal’ directed by IV
Sasi was a huge commercial hit and its songs were equally hits – An emotional sad
song ‘rakendukiranangal’, a very soft and modern ‘antharindriyadahangal’ sung by
Yesudas and a high pitch wishful lullaby ‘unni arariro’ sung by Janaki. Both films
had good lyrics by Bichu Thirumala.
‘Rakendukiranangal’ is perhaps his most famous song. But it was also a black mark
on the career of Ummer. It was copied from a Hindi song. He expressed helplessness
as the producers’ wish had to be executed in the industry. Then the credit goes
to the producer who pinpointed on this unimportant Hindi song to make it such a
great song in Malayalam. The expressive Janaki made it one of her best songs. The
original track of the Hindi song was used in it and it was done by RK Sekhar. AT
Ummer had nothing to do in it except the song 'antharindriya'. Anyway, with this,
the pious AT Ummer became controversial and famous.
But Ummer’s career takes a downward journey from here (just like Arjunan). He was
prolific, but the percentage
of good songs was very low. But he didn’t become irrelevant.
‘Vellappalunkotha’ was based on a Hindi
tune ('dil ke jharoko me') though nobody realized it. The film
also had the sad and soft ‘ekanthathayil’. ‘Dheerasameere’, the high pleasantness
of the dawn in the Janaki song ‘prabhatham poomarakkombil’, sweet devotional ‘oru
mayilpeeliyay’, river song ‘ozhukiyozhuki’ etc. followed.
Colour was added to the Jayan films ‘Karimbana’ and ‘Thadavara’ by A. T. Ummer by
the mixture of modern and native tunes in the songs ‘kombil kilukkam ketti’, ‘karimbarakalkkullilum’,
‘andandaragamezhuthiya’ and ‘kattum ee kadinte kulirum’.
The pious man was behind the hilarious comedy songs ‘palisakkaran pathrose’ sung
by Yesudas as intoxicated, ‘thothe thothe’ sung by Janaki in the voice of an urchin
After 1980, he scored many songs that were irrelevant, but occasionally showed his
ability as in the IV Sasi film ‘Ahimsa’ in 1982. The duet ‘kattu tharattum’ sung
by Yesudas and Janaki was very romantic and sweet. ‘Jalasankhupushpam’ was a nice
song. But another IV Sasi film ‘Ina’ was a shock. The songs ‘aralippoonkadukal’,
‘kinavinte varambathu’ and ‘vellichillum vithari’ were copied from various languages
(Hindi, English and Tamil).
But these songs too became famous. He copied another Hindi song in ‘Maniyara’ ('viphalam viphalam' from 'chalthe chalthe'), but
this time too, he enjoyed composing other songs using native mappila tunes and these
were famous – ‘penne manavattipenne’, ‘mizhiyina
njan’ and ‘kwaja shakin’.
In 1984, he composed the dance song ‘kalindi theeram thannil’, the erotic ‘moodalmanjumay
yamini’, the wild ‘madhumazhapozhiyum’ and the enchanting ‘thalangal’.
‘Mazhayo mazha’ in 85, ‘veliparuthipoove’ and ‘innalekal’ in 86, ‘manithoovalchirakulla’
in 88 were his last recognizable songs.
Interestingly, he got so many films all these years though he was not making good
He died in 2001.
Essentially, he was a music director of 1970s. His strength was his old songs. But
he was open to the new trends and adapted. Having so much talents, he could have avoided those unnecessary copying.