Hariharan is an Indian playback and ghazal singer, whose songs have been featured mainly in Tamil and Hindi movies. He has also sung many songs in other languages including Malayalam, Kannada, Marathi, Bhojpuri and Telugu films. 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 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 cinema and Bollywood cinema.
Hariharan was born in India (Kerala) and grew up in Mumbai in a Tamil speaking Iyer family. He has bachelor's degrees in science and law. He is fluent in speaking Tamil, Hindi, Malayalam, and English. He did his collegiate studies from S.I.E.S. College. The son of renowned Carnatic vocalists, Shrimati Alamelu and the late H.A.S. Mani (full name:Anantha Subramani Iyer), he inherited his parents' musical talents.
Alamelu was Hariharan's first guru (mentor). From her, he picked up Carnatic music skills. He was also exposed to Hindustani music from a young age. 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 thirteen hours of singing practice every day.
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.
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. 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. 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.
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 and Bengali languages.
Hariharan has acted in a Tamil film with Kushboo, Power of Women (2005), and played cameo roles in the Tamil film Boys and the Malayalam film Millennium Stars.
Hariharan is one of the foremost Indian ghazal singers and composers with more than thirty albums to his credit. 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.
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. The other major ghazal albums by him are Hazir (1992), Jashn (1996), Halka Nasha (1996), Paigham (1997), Kaash (2000), Lahore Ke Rang Hari Ke Sang (2005), and Guftagoo. 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. The album Lahore Ke Rang Hari Ke Sang with renowned ghazal composers from Pakistan won him 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.
A.R.Rahman live concert
In 2004, he was awarded the prestigious Padma Shri and Yesudas Award for his outstanding performance in music.
Hariharan collaborated with Pakistan based band Strings for a track called "Bolo Bolo". He released an album called Destiny with Punjabi / bhangra artist Daler Mehndi. He also 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. He also performed the Swagatham song in the 2010 Commonwealth Games opening ceremony held in New Delhi on 3 October.
In 2014 he launched his official website. He is also now active on Social Media with his Facebook page garnering more than 1.7 million likes. He tweets often with latest tweet count reaching more than 2300
He is currently appearing in a music show in Jaya TV named Hari Yudan Naan which is aired every Thursday, Friday and Saturdays at 9:00 pm.
Ghazal Singer Hariharan Launches new Album
Hariharan collaborated with Sarangan Sriranganathan for "Sruthi" at the Sydney Hill Centre and the Melbourne Robert Blackwood Hall Australia in 2011 Hariharan also unofficially released ghazal singer Adithya Srinivasan's first international single 'Gham e Duniya' at the Gateway Hotel, Bangalore. Hariharan has been 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.
Singer Hariharan with his family, mom, wife and children