Venkateswaran Dakshinamoorthy was a veteran carnatic musician and music director of Malayalam, Tamil and Hindi films, predominantly in Malayalam films. He has set scores for the songs in over 125 films. He has to his credit as many as 859 songs composed over a period of 50 years.
Dakshinamoorthy was born on 9 December 1919 as Venkateswaran Dakshinamoorthy, to D. Venkateswara Iyer and Parvathi Ammal in Alappuzha district, Kerala (Travancore, British India). His interest in music was nurtured by his mother who taught him keerthanas of Thyagaraja Swamikal when he was still a child. He had grasped at least 27 songs just by hearing them when they were being rendered by his mother and sister. When he was ten years old, Venkatachalam Potti in Trivandrum taught him Carnatic music and the tutelage continued for three years. His first public performance, when he was 13 years old, was at the Ambalapuzha Sri Krishna temple. It was his habit to offer prayers to “Vaikkathappa Annadhaana Prabho” daily, in the morning and before going to bed. After finishing S.S.L.C., he learned carnatic music form Venkatachalam Potty in Trivandrum.
He learned more about carnatic music and became an expert of it. He debuted in the film industry in 1948 with Nalla Thanka, produced by Kunchacko and K. V. Koshy under the banner of K & K Productions. The hero of the film was Augustin Joseph, father of renowned singer K. J. Yesudas. The film also had songs sung by Augustin. The producers wanted Dakshinamoorthy to compose a song on Lord Vinayaka and that was the first song he began his film industry career with.
Dakshinamoorthy went on to set scores for K. J. Yesudas his son Vijay Yesudas (for the film Idanazhiyil Oru Kalocha, directed by Bhadran) and his grand daughter Ameya (for the film Shyama Raagam, awaiting release) as well, thus achieving a rare treat.
He set the scores for many songs written by Sreekumaran Thampi, forming a famous musician-songwriter duo like the Vayalar Ramavarma - G. Devarajan and P. Bhaskaran - Baburaj duos. He had R. K. Shekhar, father of the music director A. R. Rahman as his assistant for a few films, who later became a musician in his own right. He went on to direct music for over 125 films including Navalokam, Seetha, Viyarppinte Vila, Sri Guruvayoorappan, Kadamattathachan and Indulekha.
His evergreen compositions include Swapnangal... Swapnangale ningal...(Kavyamela), Pattu padiyurakkan njan...(Seetha), Uthara swayamvaram...(Danger Biscuit), Kattile pazhmulam...(Vilaykku Vangiya Veena) and Vathil pazhuthilooden...(Idanazhiyil Oru Kalocha). He was guru of many singers and Music Directors including P. Leela, P. Susheela, Kalyani Menon and Ilaiyaraja. In 1971 he won the Kerala State Film Award for Best Music Director.
In 2003, he received the coveted 'Sangeetha Saraswathi' Award from the hands of revered Poojya Sri Guruji Viswanath of Manava Seva Kendra, Bangalore. In the year 2008, he composed 4 songs for the Malayalam Movie Mizhikal Sakshi. He died on 2 August 2013 at the age of 93 in Chennai owing to age related illnesses. His last work was for a Malayalam movie 'Shyama Raagam' (Yet to release) which was done 3 months before his death.