Both Sai Kumar and R.P. Patnaik opine that films today have become hero-centric and less attention is paid to storyline, dialogues and lyrics, writes SUMIT BHATTACHARJEE

Both Sai Kumar, who is popularly known as the dubbing king, and R.P. Patnaik, music director, come from middle class families and walked their way up to stardom. While the first shot into fame with his baritone voice and artful modulation of his vocal chords the second virtually became a celebrity overnight with a rustic number that topped the charts. The duo was here recently and squeezed some time to talk to The Hindu about their journey, works and future plans.Apart from sharing many common factors, interestingly both of them seem to have a link with the city of destiny. While Sai Kumar hails from Vizianagaram and had his share of education here, R.P is the `Alludu' (son-in-law) of the city, as his wife hails from Visakhapatnam. Both had their share of struggle and slice of luck to make it big in the industry and together they quietly slipped away from the Telugu film industry to make waves in Kannada films. Having known and worked together for quite some time, the duo was all praise for each other. Here are a few friendly banters: "RP is extremely talented. He is multi-faceted. I not only regard him as one of the best music directors among the contemporaries but also as a good actor. His performance in the film `Seenu Vasanthi Lakshmi' was mind boggling," opined Sai Kumar. Reciprocating RP said, "Sai is a complete actor. He can fit into any role. As a hero in 'Police Story', he was a revelation and his latest as a villain in `Samanyudu' gives an insight to his acting talent. As far as dubbing is concerned, he is the best the industry has ever produced."Cautioning on dubbing, RP added, "Dubbing, is no mean art. It may be seen as behind the scene art but it carries the film till the last. What is a film without powerful dialogues? Over the years, Sai has proved how good he is at it." Narrating an incident, RP suggested, "Sai and a couple of artists had gone to the US for a shoot some time ago. On a holiday, a few of the artists including Sai had gone to see the Statue of Liberty. Over there an old Indian couple spotted the group, approached them and shook hands with Tanikella Bharani but did not recognise the dubbing king who was standing next to Bharani. Sai was disappointed at what had happened, but kept things to himself. And when the old couple was having difficulty in spotting the statue due to fog, Sai quietly approached them and whispered the direction in the lady's ear. She spun around and asked, `Are you Sai Kumar?' That's the power of voice."Giving back, Sai Kumar pointed out that RP Patnaik was responsible for bringing back the sweetness of ethnic music into the films. "In his music you get the feel of the rustic flavour that has been missing for quite some time. The song `Gajuwaka pilla' from the film `Nuvvu Nenu' was really refreshing to the ears that were tuned to the western plagiarism for years. There is soul in his music."Both of them have jointly embarked on quite a few projects in Kannada films. Sai Kumar has two major ventures in his kitty, Police Story - II and a spiritual film on Shirdhi Sai Baba, `Sri Sai Darshan'.

On current films

The twosome was of similar opinion as far as the present trend in films is concerned. They opined that most of the films made today are hero-centric and they hardly have a storyline. "Dialogues are the soul of a film. Earlier, films survived only on melodramatic dialogues and that is missing today. Well, the melodrama may be phased out but not the dialogues. The problem is getting a good writer," said Sai Kumar. "That's same with the songs. The music has not changed much but the lyrics are going from bad to worse," echoed RP.