Days after her fans celebrated the President conferring the Padma Bhushan on noted singer Vani Jayaram, she passed away at her home in Chennai.
She was 77 and was living alone at a downtown apartment, where she was found dead, police said adding there was an injury on her forehead and further investigation is on.
Vani Jayaram’s husband predeceased her and she had no children, the singer’s domestic help said.
In her long and illustrious career of over 50 years, she has rendered a mine of memorable songs including the ‘Bole re papihara’ from Hindi flick Guddi (1971), ‘Yezhu Swarangalukkul’ from Tamil film Apoorva Ragangal (1975) and ‘Malligai En Mannan Mayangum’ (1974 Tamil movie Deerga Sumangali). She has worked with iconic musicians including M S Viswanathan and Ilaiyaraaja. Former Chief Minister and top star in her times J Jayalalithaa was among those for whom Vani Jayaram has sung.
Born Kalaivani in Vellore in Tamil Nadu, she was a versatile singer in various languages. She has sung over 10,000 songs in 19 languages including Tamil, Malayalam, Hindi, Telugu and Kannada.
“She was a down-to-earth person and humility personified. She had rare qualities like appreciating the talent of other musicians,” said musician and singer Mahathi.
Police said they managed to open the door to the flat in the presence of Vani Jayaram’s relatives by 1.30 p.m. after they were informed. The singer’s maid said she turned up as usual for work on Saturday. However, she did not get any response despite repeatedly pressing the calling bell, she told reporters here. Immediately, she said, she alerted the singer’s relatives who informed police.
Malarkodi, who has been working for the past 10 years as a maid in the singer’s house, told reporters that Vani Jayaram did not have any health issues. “She was busy receiving guests and well-wishers who visited her to greet her for getting the Padma Bhushan award. Phone was endlessly ringing and she answered all the calls and thanked everyone who greeted her. She lived alone,” the woman said.