Hariharan (singer)

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Hariharan in February 2014
Hariharan Anantha Subramani

(1955-04-03) 3 April 1955 (age 68)
OccupationPlayback singer
Years active1977–present
HonoursPadma Shri (2004)
Kalaimamani (2005)
Musical career
Instrument(s)Vocals, harmonium

Hariharan Anantha Subramani (born 3 April 1955) is an Indian playback, bhajan and ghazal singer who predominantly sings in Tamil, Hindi and Telugu languages. He has also sung over 15,000 notable songs in 10 languages including Malayalam, Kannada, Marathi, Sinhala, Bhojpuri, Odia, Bengali, Sanskrit, Gujarati and English. He is an established ghazal singer and one of the pioneers of Indian fusion music.

In 2004, he was honoured with the Padma Shri by the Government of India[2] and is a two-time National Award winner. Hariharan, associating with Lesle Lewis, formed Colonial Cousins, a two-member band. They have cut many private music albums and also scored music for few feature films in Tamil and Hindi. In 2023, Hariharan and late Gulshan Kumar's Hanuman Chalisa recorded under the label of T-Series crossed the 3-billion views mark on YouTube,[3] making it the first devotional song in the world to do so.[4]

Personal life and education[edit]

Hariharan was born to classical musicians H. A. S. Mani and Alamelu Mani. H. A. S. Mani – he was affectionately called Chellamani – groomed many Carnatic singers in Mumbai where he died in his early 40s due to cardiac arrest in 1963.[5] His mother Alamelu Mani (born 1935) has had a long career as Carnatic vocalist and a distinguished teacher, and was honoured with the title Sangeeta Pracharya in 2019.[6] Hariharan did his schooling at Don Bosco High School, Matunga[7] and graduated from SIES College of Arts, Science & Commerce, Mumbai.[8] Thereafter he pursued his studies at the St. Xavier's College, Mumbai.[9]


Film career[edit]

Hariharan performing at A R Rahman's concert, Sydney (2010)

At the start of his career, Hariharan did the concert circuit and also performed on TV. He sang for a number of TV serials (e.g., Junoon). In 1977, he won the top prize in the "All India Sur Singaar Competition" and was promptly signed on by the late music director Jaidev to sing for his new Hindi film Gaman (1978). His debut song "Ajeeb Sa Neha Mujh Par Guzar Gaya Yaaron" in that movie became such a hit that it won him an Uttar Pradesh State Film Award, as well as a National Award nomination.[10]

Hariharan entered the world of Tamil films in 1992 introduced by debutant music director A. R. Rahman with the patriotic song "Thamizha Thamizha" in Maniratnam's film Roja.[11] He was judged best male playback singer in the 1995 Tamil Nadu State Government Film Awards for his soulful rendition of the song "Uyire Uyire" also by music director A. R. Rahman in Maniratnam's Bombay (Hariharan sang the song with K. S. Chithra). Hariharan has been one of the most trusted singers of Rahman and has sung many songs for him in long list of movies that includes Muthu, Minsara Kanavu, Jeans, Indian, Mudhalvan, Taal, Rangeela, Indira, Iruvar, Anbe Aaruyire, Kangalal Kaithu Sei, Sivaji, Alaipayuthey, Kannathil Muthamittal, Guru, Enthiran etc. He composed music for the Indo Polish FilmNo Means No. In 1998, Hariharan won the national award for the best playback singer for the soulful rendition of the song "Mere Dushman Mere Bhai" from the Hindi movie Border, composed by Anu Malik. Hariharan got another National Award for the Marathi song "Jiv Rangla" from Jogwa, set to tune by Ajay Atul in the year 2009.[12]

He has sung more than 500 Tamil songs and nearly 200 Hindi songs. He has also sung hundreds of songs in Malayalam, Telugu, Kannada, Marathi, Bengali and Odia languages. Hariharan has acted in a Tamil film with Khushbu, Power of Women (2005), and played cameo roles in the Tamil film Boys and the Malayalam film Millennium Stars.[citation needed]


Hariharan is one of the foremost Indian ghazal singers and composers with more than thirty albums to his credit.[13] In his early career, he cut several successful ghazal albums, writing most of the scores himself. One of Hariharan's first ghazal albums was Aabshar-e-Ghazal with Asha Bhosle, which went gold in sales.[13]

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 1995.[13]

The other major ghazal albums by him are Hazir (1992), Jashn (1996), Halka Nasha (1996), Paigham (1997), Kaash (2000), and Lahore Ke Rang Hari Ke Sang (2005).[13] His live concert recordings, Hariharan in Concert (1990), Saptarishi (1996) and Swar Utsav (2001) were run away successes. His latest ghazal album is Lafzz... (2008). Hariharan worked with tabla maestro Zakir Hussain on his album Hazir.[13]

The album Lahore Ke Rang Hari Ke Sang won rave reviews and critical acclaim inside and outside India. A. R. Rahman was an avid listener of his ghazals way before roping him in to sing his first song in Tamil film music, "Thamizha Thamizha", for the film Roja.

Colonial Cousins[edit]

Hariharan (left) and Leslie Lewis at the launch of "Once More"

The year 1996 was a career milestone; he formed the band Colonial Cousins with Mumbai-based composer and singer Lesle Lewis.[14] Their first album, Colonial Cousins was a fusion album and was the first Indian act to be featured on MTV Unplugged.[15] It won a string of awards including the MTV Indian Viewers' Choice award and Billboard Award for the Best Asian Music Group.[13][15]

By this single album, Hariharan established himself as one of the pioneers of Indian fusion music. The next albums by this band were The Way We Do It (1998) and Aatma (2001) but were fairly noticed. Colonial Cousins released their fourth studio album "Once More" on 29 October 2012 under the label Universal. The 2009 Tamil film Modhi Vilayadu had score and soundtrack composed by Colonial Cousins.[16] They also scored the 2010 Tamil film Chikku Bukku.

Recent years[edit]

In 2004, he was awarded the Padma Shri and Yesudas Award for his outstanding performance in music.[17][18]

Hariharan collaborated with Pakistan based band Strings for a track called "Bolo Bolo".[19] He released an album called Destiny with Punjabi/bhangra artist Daler Mehndi.[20]

He coined the terminology "Urdu Blues" with his fairly successful album Kaash which featured musicians like Anandan Sivamani the percussion maestro, Ustad Rashid Mustafa on tabla, Ustad Liyaqat Ali Khan on sitar and Ustad Sultan Khan on sarangi.[citation needed]

He also performed the Swagatham song in the 2010 Commonwealth Games opening ceremony held in New Delhi on 3 October.[21]

Hariharan at a concert in Thiruvananthapuram

During 2010–2011, he appeared in a music show in Jaya TV named Hariyudan Naan which was aired every Thursday, Friday and Saturday.[22]

Hariharan collaborated with Sarangan Sriranganathan for "Sruthi" at the Sydney Hill Centre and the Melbourne Robert Blackwood Hall Australia in 2011[23] He unofficially released ghazal singer Adithya Srinivasan's first international single 'Gham e Duniya' at the Gateway Hotel, Bangalore.[24] In an interview in 2012, he said that he was no longer receiving offers to sing for Bollywood as music composers wanted to experiment with singers from the younger generation.[25]

He was selected as judge for Asianet Star Singer Season 6 programme, a very popular music contest television show for upcoming singers in Malayalam. Hariharan was a part of the 'Royal Stag Barrel Select MTV Unplugged', aired in December 2015.[26]

Major awards[edit]

Civilian Awards
National Film Awards
Kerala State Film Awards
Swaralaya-Kairali-Yesudas Award
  • 2004 – for his outstanding contribution to Indian film music[18]
Tamil Nadu State Film Awards
Nandi Awards
Asianet Film Awards
Kalakar Awards
  • 8th Kalakar Awards 2000 – for Best Male Playback Singer
Filmfare Awards South
Vijay Awards


Reality show as Judge
Year Title channel language
2023 Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Seniors (Season 3) Zee Tamil Tamil
2019 Surya super singer Surya TV Malayalam
2017 Super Star junior 5 Amrita TV Malayalam
2014 Saregamapa Zee Bangla Bengali
2011 Super Star 2 Amrita TV Malayalam
2010–11 Hariyudan Naan Jaya TV Tamil


Albums by Colonial Cousins

Featured albums[edit]

  • Jana Gana Mana – by A. R. Rahman
  • 1995 Meghutam – The Cloud Messenger (Pt. Vishwamohan Bhatt)
  • 2000 Sartaj
  • 2002 Tum Aaye
  • 2004 Dhaani
  • 2008 Tum Jo Mile
  • 2009 Lajwaab – Tribute to Medi Hasan
  • Asha wali Dhoop
  • Chand Ke Saath
  • 2011 Hasrat
  • 2011 Sarhadein: Music Beyond Boundaries
  • 2014 JIL (Just In Love): Music By Dr. Kelvin Jeyakanth


  1. ^ "Hariharan Interview: मैं सौ फीसदी बंबइया हूं! लेकिन विकिपीडिया वाले हैं कि मेरी बात सुनते ही नहीं".
  2. ^ "Padma Awards" (PDF). Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. 2015. Archived from the original (PDF) on 15 October 2015. Retrieved 21 July 2015.
  3. ^ ""T-Series' Hanuman Chalisa Crosses 1 Billion Views On Youtube"". NDTV. Retrieved 29 May 2020.
  4. ^ "T-Series' Hanuman Chalisa becomes first devotional song to cross 1 billion views on YouTube". India TV. 28 May 2020. Retrieved 29 May 2020.
  5. ^ "Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer - Page 7 - rasikas.org". Rasikas.org. Retrieved 21 March 2022.
  6. ^ "Our music has a bright future, says doyenne of Carnatic music Alamelu Mani". 16 September 2019.
  7. ^ "Notable Alumni | Don Bosco High School". donboscomatunga.com.
  8. ^ "Reviews of Bachelor of Commerce (B.Com), SIES College of Arts Science and Commerce (SIESCASC), Mumbai". CollegeBol.
  9. ^ "Hariharan". SIRAJ. Archived from the original on 9 November 2020. Retrieved 7 June 2020.
  10. ^ Although he made his debut a long time ago, Hariharan was first noticed in a duet with Kavita Krishnamurthy in "Hai Mubarak Aaj ka Din" from Boxer (1984), which was composed by R D Burman. Hariharan Archived 26 July 2010 at the Wayback Machine. Hummaa.com. Retrieved on 1 January 2012.
  11. ^ "Life at 50". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 4 February 2008. Retrieved 6 May 2019.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  12. ^ a b "56th National Film Awards, 2008" (PDF). pib.nic.in.
  13. ^ a b c d e f "Artist biography: Hariharan" Archived 2 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine, Indianmusicinfo.com; retrieved 28 January 2011.
  14. ^ "Harmonious synthesis". The Hindu. 23 January 2003. Archived from the original on 6 June 2011. Retrieved 28 January 2011.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  15. ^ a b "Colonial Cousins to regale Bangaloreans". The Hindu. 23 September 2004. Archived from the original on 3 January 2013.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  16. ^ "Colonial Cousins' debut in Tamil". The Hindu. 25 July 2009. Archived from the original on 31 July 2009.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  17. ^ a b "Padma Shri Award recipients list". India.gov.in. Retrieved on 1 January 2012.
  18. ^ a b "Swaralaya award for Hariharan". The Hindu. 26 October 2004. Archived from the original on 10 March 2007.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  19. ^ "Gee, STRINGS!". The Hindu. 19 June 2004. Archived from the original on 26 August 2004.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  20. ^ "Chords and notes: Destiny". The Hindu. 16 November 2005.
  21. ^ "Children welcome CWG guests with Namaste; Hariharan performs". Hindustan Times. 3 October 2010. Archived from the original on 14 November 2010.
  22. ^ "Hari Yudan Nan" Archived 21 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine, Jayanetwork.in; retrieved 1 January 2012.
  23. ^ "Sruthi Melbourne Archived 27 September 2011 at the Wayback Machine, KeepYourNightFree.com; retrieved 1 January 2012.
  24. ^ "Bangalore Mirror/Music: Singers Bond". Bangalore Mirror. 2 April 2013. Retrieved 4 August 2013.
  25. ^ "Don't get offers to sing in Bollywood: Hariharan – Times of India". The Times of India. November 2012. Retrieved 5 June 2019.
  26. ^ "MTV to air season 5 of 'Unplugged'". 30 December 2015. Retrieved 9 January 2016 – via indiantelevision.com.
  27. ^ "Mammootty, Mohanlal bag Asianet film awards yet again". Indo-Asian News Service. NDTV. 1 January 2011. Archived from the original on 14 July 2011.

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