Popular Malyalam Ghazal singer Umbayee passed away on Wednesday at the age of 68. Known as one among the most popular Ghazal singers in Kerala, Umbayee died of lung cancer at a private hospital in Aluva. According to the Indian Express report, Dr. Hyder Ali, who treated Umbayee at the hospital, said that the singer had been brought in two days ago with complaints of breathlessness. The doctor also said that Umbayee was in the final stage of lung cancer.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan expressed his condolences in a statement which said, “Umbayee, who was a part of the field of music for over 4 decades, played a crucial role in making ghazals popular amongst the public. Umbayee’s departure is a big loss to the world of ghazals.”
Umbayee was born in Mattanchery in Kerala’s Ernakulam district on 1952 to Abu and Fatima. Growing up, he was known as Ibrahim who always wanted to be a Tabla artist. Since Umbayee’s father did not approve of his career in music, he was sent to Bombay to become an electrician where he met Ustad Munawar Ali Khan and under his mentorship, Umbayee became a Ghazal artiste.
Umbayee’s best performances include Oru Mugham Mathram, Pinneyum Paadunnu Saigal, Athramel Snehichu, Akale mounam pol, Orikkal nee paranju and so on. Poets like ONV Kurup, Yusufali Kecheri, and Sachidanandan have also written poems for his albums. As a part of John Abraham’s movie Amma Ariyan, his voice was used in the film. In 2016, the story of Umbayee’s life was unraveled in his biography titled- ‘Ragam Bhairavi’ An expert in playing the tabla and the harmonium, he formed Kerala’s first ghazal troupe and brought out at least a dozen ghazal albums.
Umbayee’s body is at community center at Kalvathi in Mattancherry for the public to pay their last respects and will be buried in a mosque at Kalvathi.