Legends are not born daily but March 19, 1937, was one such day when a man who changed the fortunes of music in the Malayali film industry. This man was none other than legendary music director Shyam. Shyam was born in Chennai, but his parents, Mary and Thankaraj Joseph named him Samuel Joseph.
Both his parents were teachers and music lovers. Shyam himself admitted that it was his father who bought him his first musical instrument, violin. Dhanraj Master was the one who trained him in violin during his initial learning days. Shyam was good in studies.
He is a graduate and even started pursuing law. But he had to drop out as many new assignments came in his way and his schedule became hectic. He also went on to work for Larsen and Turbo, but it was his destiny that landed him in the film industry.
Initially, his father was reluctant as he wanted to see his son doing a permanent job, marry and settle but it was another South Indian legend, MSV who convinced Shyam's father and help Shyam make his own identity. It was MSV only who gave name Shyam to Samuel Joseph as he faced difficulty in pronouncing it.
The first-ever public appearance that Shyam made was in the play 'Kal Ki bat.' MB Shrenivasan composed the music of this play, and Shyam played violin in this play. That was just the beginning and his helped Shyam to get in touch of big names of Malayali film industry like C Ramachandra, Salil Chowdhury, Madan Mohan, R D Burman, M S Viswanathan-Ramamurthy duo and many more.
Shyam's idol is none other than twenty Grammy awards and, four-time Oscar award winner, Henry Mancini. Shyam himself confessed that it was in 'Hatari' that he first heard Mancini and instantly became his fan. It was his passion that Shyam wrote letters to him and even used to get replies to all his letters.
A career that spanned over thirty years, Shyam has worked with almost all the leading directors of industry and gave music in more than 200 movies. In an interview, he said that it was his misfortune that he couldn't work with Vayalar Rama Varma.
They both were planning to join hands soon for a film but before that only Vayalar Rama headed for the almighty. Shyam now resides in Chennai and taught in an institute founded by him, Geetanjali Institute of Music and Fine Arts.
He wants his students to learn Carnatic music which is missing in them. He still plays his first instrument violin in his free time and feels lucky to have lived a life which he could have never dreamt off.