Koti, or Koteswara Rao, the son of legendary music director Saluri Rajeswara Rao started his musical journey at a very young age teaming up with Raj (or Somaraju), son of stalwart music director T.V. Raju. The Raj-Koti duo ruled Telugu cinema during the Eighties and early Nineties, composing music for over 200 films. The duo split during the mid 90s, after which Koti independently composed music for nearly 200 films. He picks five films from among his independent ventures.

Hitler

Cast: Chiranjeevi, Rambha

Though it is a Malayalam remake, producer ‘Editor’ Mohan and director Muthyala Subbaiah created some new situations for the Telugu version. I gave an original score. For the popular Habbibi… Habbibi… Nadaka kalisina Navarthri (lyric: Veturi Sundara Ramamurthy) I came up with a really fast beat. Everyone liked it. But Chiranjeevi vetoed it down. I was upset. Mohan stood by me and asked me to rework the same tune. I made a slight change toning down the fast beat so that it is not that difficult to perform. When it was played again to Chiranjeevi, he liked it. Lawrence’s choreography and Chiranjeevi’s performance elevated the song.

Pedarayudu

Cast: Mohan Babu, Soundarya, Rajnikanth

This film broke all the box office records of that time. Though it is a remake of the Tamil hit Nattamai, director Raviraja Pinisetty brought in new situations; one of that is the ‘seemantham’ scene depicted through the song, Kadhile kaalama kasepu agavamma (lyric: Sriharsha). K.J. Yesudas’s rendition made the song immortal. Another popular song is dhama dhama gunde damarukam mroge (Samavedam Shanmukha Sarma’s debut lyric) rendered by SPB and Chitra. But I cherish one incident that happened at Balu’s Kodandapani Audio Lab, Chennai, during the voicing mixing for the song – Abba daani soku choosi mecha mecha. SPB was rendering the song when director K. Viswanath garu came to meet him. I was nervous about his reaction as it is not his kind of song. But after listening to it he said, ‘even in such a beat, you came up with a good measure of melody.’ I haven’t got the opportunity to work with him but this compliment has compensated for that.

Arundhathi

Cast: Anushka Shetty, Sonu Sood

When writer Sabhapathi narrated the story and said that the graphics in the movie will be in the range of Lord of the Rings, it inspired me to come up with some real good music. I was curious to know about the ambience of Gadwal zamin and how Arundhathi looked. Neither producer Shyam Prasad Reddy nor Kodi Ramakrishna gave me even a photograph from the photo shoot. They just left it to my imagination. Naturally, this made me more careful about bringing the harmony and progression of music to match aptly with the visuals. Take for instance, the song – Jejamma… Jejamma (lyric: Veturi, rendition: Kailash Kher) when Arundhathi comes on an elephant in all majesty, grace and poise. The tune jelled with the ambience’s grandeur. Bhu… Bhu…Bhujangam…dithai tharangam, (Veturi, Chitra) took many days for me to compose. Rahul Nambiar’s graphics elevated the scene and the song. Shyam had announced the date of release and I had to work on the background score day and night for 18 days to beat the deadline. In my 30-year career, Arundhathi gave me complete satisfaction and helped me prove myself all over again.

Nuvvu Naaku Nachav

Cast: Venkatesh, Arthi Agarwal

I have a special bonding with producer Ravikishore, director Vijaya Bhaskar and writer-director Trivikram Srinivas. When Trivikram narrated the story I felt there is scope to make it a musical love story. For aa neeli gaganana meriseti O dhivya thara… I gave the tune to Bhuvanachadra to write the lyric. The hero doesn’t know how to play piano but to impress the girl he plays it. So the tune starts with a harsh note and then flows into melody. If you observe closely you can find this. ‘Unnamata Cheppalevu Oorukunte Oppukovu Sathyabhama took a lot of time to compose but the most challenging one was O navvu chalu … venneledho vekuvedho neeku thelusa mari (lyric: Seetharama Sastry). I gave many tunes but Ravikishore was not satisfied. He played the piano-based English melody Fable for me, and inspired by that I composed a tune. I called veteran violin player Kalyanasundaram from Chennai to play the violin solo and the song was a hit.

Alluda…Mazaka

Cast: Chiranjeevi, Ramya Krishna, Rambha

Actually, this film produced by Devi Vara Prasad, was signed by us as Raj-Koti and we even composed two songs including the popular Atho Athamma koothura… Midway through this film we decided to pursue careers independently. So I asked the producer to find another music director. But director EVV Sathyanarayana insisted on retaining me saying, Naaku Yevaru lekapoina Koti Undali. I can never forget his words. Veturi wrote the lyrics and the other hit songs from the film are Reddu reddu bugga reddu (SPB-Chitra) and Andala Ramudu… ma thalli Seethammaku Sri Ramudu Devudu (SPB).

This film gave me my big break as an independent composer and later I was the composer for 27 of EVV’s films.