Santhosh Naraynan is an Indian film composer and singer who predominantly works in the Tamil film industry. He made his debut as a music composer with the 2012 Tamil movie Attakathi.
Santhosh completed his schooling from the RSK Higher Secondary School, Tiruchirappalli and later graduated from the J.J. College of Engineering and Technology. Soon after he graduated, Santhosh started working as an assistant composer to the music legend A. R. Rahman.
Santhosh Naraynan is married to the popular Indian classical singer, Mahalakshmi Iyer. He is the step-father to Dheekshitha Venkadeshan, who is also a singer. Dheekshitha is Mahalakshmi's daughter from her previous marriage.
As a Composer
Before working as an independent musician and composing background score for movies, Santhosh worked as a recording engineer. He first composed two songs for the acclaimed short film Advaitham for which he also won a Best Composer Award. In 2008, he gave the background score for the Telugu movie Nenu Meeku Telusa..? - a psychological thriller that stars Manoj Manchu, Sneha Ullal, and Riya Sen. Another Rahman protege, Shakti, also worked on the score along with Santhosh.
It was only in 2012 that Santhosh made his debut as an independent music composer with the Pa. Ranjith movie Attakathi. The producer C. V. Kumar saw Santhosh working in his studio and then gave him the opportunity to work on the film. Coming true to C. V. Kumar's faith, Santhosh composed one of the best music scores of the year. He composed the song 'Aadi Pona Aavani', belonging to the 'gaana' genre, which went on to become immensely popular. The song also introduced the then unknown singer Gana Bala, who used to sing songs at funerals, previously. After Attakathi, Santhosh composed the music for the films Uyir Mozhi and Pizza; both the movies released in 2012.
The Sydney Symphony Orchestra performed for the soundtrack of the movie, Pizza, which saw Santhosh collaborating with Gana Bala yet again, for a blues number. The movie Pizza was a hit and furthermore the music of the movie was also praised with Sify, an online portal, stating the music of Pizza was a major plus. In the same year, he won the Jaya TV 2012 Award for Sensational Debutant Music Director for the movie Attakathi. He also won the Big Tamil Melody Award for Best Debut Music Director for the movie Pizza. Santhosh soon made his foray into Telugu cinema and made his debut with the movie Billa Ranga released in 2013.
In 2014, Santhosh scored music for four movies viz. Cuckoo, a romantic drama, Jigarthanda, a black comedy, Madras, a political drama, and Enakkul Oruvan, a Tamil psychological thriller. Santhosh showed his musical prowess by working on four different genres and coming up with equally flamboyant scores. His first release of the year, Cuckoo directed by Raju Murugan, was highly appreciated by the critics with one of India's top critics Baradwaj Rangan terming it as 'great'. Santhosh's step-daughter, Dheekshitha, also worked in the movie Cuckoo; she sung the song 'Enda Mapla' for the movie. She has collaborated with her step-father on several of his other albums including Pizza II (2013), Madras (2014), Irudhi Suttru (2016), and Iravi (2016).
Santhosh brilliantly used varied techniques for recording the songs for Cuckoo and Jigarthanda. For Cuckoo, he used live instrumentation, while for Jigarthanda, he used electronic musical instruments. Further, the Times of India reviewed Jigarthanda's album and quoted: "Santhosh Naraynanan shows, yet again, that he is one of those composers to watch out for — both for his new sounds and tunes". His other two releases of the year, Madras and Enakkul Oruvan, were also major hits. He next gave the music for the film 36 Vayadhinile, the Tamil remake of the hit Malayalam movie How Old Are You?
In 2016, he gave music for the movie Irudhi Suttru, which was simultaneously shot in Tamil and Hindi. He also gave music for Pa. Ranjith's movie Kabali, starring Rajinikanth. His other releases of 2016 include the Tamil supernatural thriller, Kashmora, directed by Gokul, an untitled Bharathan project, Anand Balki's musical Server Sundaram, and Durai Senthil Kumar's political thriller, Kodi.
As a Singer
Santhosh has also contributed as a singer in movies such as Uyir Mozhi (2012), Jigarthanda (2014), Kappal (2014), Enakkul Oruvan (2015), Kadhalum Kadandhu Pogum (2016), and Iravi (2016).