Music Is the line between Telugu and Hindi film music beginning to blur? Sangeetha Devi Dundootracks the trend

Neeraj Sridhar of Bombay Vikings has had a good run in recent times. His hit number Hare Krishna Hare Ram (Bhool Bhulaiyya) is still one of the top picks for mobile ringback tones. And he sings with the same earnestness, Om Namastey Bolo Baby. Tuning in to one of the radio FMs you wonder which new Hindi album is the song from. Neeraj Sridhar has been imported to Telugu films and he’s singing for Ready. Giving him company for the song, rendering a mix of Telugu and English Lyrics, is Shreya Ghosal, already a hit with Telugu and Tamil music lovers.

Neeraj Sridhar has company. There’s also Kunal Ganjawala singing Mere Sajna for the same film, Ready. And of course, with the film being a hit, these songs are among the Top 10 now. Are we talking of Telugu songs or Hindi? The industry is equally perplexed. Music directors Devisri Prasad, Mani Sarma and Sandeep Chowta are successfully capturing urban pockets blending Telugu lyrics with Hindi and English.

Director Indraganti Mohanakrishna, who draws from the richness of Telugu language and literature for his films, attributes this change to the death of humanities and social studies. “When I studied in college, I remember my friends who were studying literature, science and engineering being good in Telugu debates. Today, there’s emphasis on technical skill sets and being good in speaking English and Hindi. Most youngsters are unfamiliar with Telugu words. They can be drawn to Telugu lyrics and the new hybrid lyrics that are coming in. For instance, they may watch Shekar Kammula’s films that have melodious Telugu songs and at the same time watch films that play to the gallery,” he reasons.

Bujjigaadu Made in Chennai hasn’t brought in better fortunes for actor Prabhas but Sandeep Chowta’s songs are still in demand. Sandeep and his protégé Neekita Nigam croon to Dhadhak Dhadhak with ease, blending Hindi, English and Telugu lyrics. Sandeep Chowta was earlier credited with bringing in new sounds into Telugu songs. “When I introduced a different style of music and singing in Nagarjuna’s film Style, the audience welcomed it. The songs were featured on MTV and Channel V,” he says.

In fact, songs from Jalsa, Bujjigaadu and Ready can replace Hindi numbers on dance floors. And film lovers aren’t complaining. “The audience are volatile. It’s for the film-makers to decide what they want to offer. For my next film Aashta Chemma, I had asked lyricist Seetharama Sastry to not use English or Hindi words other than when necessary,” says Indraganti Mohanakrishna.

Using Hindi lyrics also calls for differing from Carnatic music out of Telugu music stems from, feels Uday Shankar, who’s dabbled with fusion music. After his independent album Fusion Annamayya, he’s moving on to films with Sneha Geetham to be directed by Madhura Sridhar. “A lot of listeners may be unfamiliar with the raga of the song and like catchy tunes. But the same people will not accept more than one or two lines of Hindi lyrics. When I worked on fusion albums, I didn’t deviate from Telugu lyrics and used 80 per cent Carnatic music since that is what our culture is known for,” he explains.

As of now, with the Hinglish-Telugu combination delivering hits, there’s more to come for sure.