Authors

In reference to film music

Swarnayuga Sangeetha Darsakulu (1932-1982) by Pulagam Chinnarayana Chimataa Music.com Srinivas Chimata 3582 Sleeping Meadow Way, San Ramon, CA 94582 USA Price: Rs 500; $75  

S warnayuga Sangeetha Darsakulu is about music directors who served Telugu cinema, by starting their careers between 1932 and 1982. The first Telugu Talkie was released in 1932. The book attempts to present introductory articles on the music directors, interviews with the music directors themselves wherever possible or their associates or close relatives, a list of their popular songs, and names of movies for which they composed music.

The present volume is an enlarged and revised edition. It has two major sections, the first one dealing with major composers starting with H.R.Padmanabha Sastri to S.P.Balasubrahmanyam; the second part dealing briefly with 27 others .The volume ends with an interview with veteran film musician Y.N.Sarma. The introductory pieces on the music directors have the opening lines of their most popular songs as captions. Chinnarayana’s book is a result of his individual effort and commendable for its sheer volume, its content in general and the rich display of photographs (more than 1500). The author considers each music director’s sojourn as an exercise in personality development, given the humble beginnings of most of them. The publisher needs to be complimented for bringing out the book, with an accent on quality in printing and presentation.

The present volume has many strengths and of course, some weaknesses. The few factual errors and erroneous transliteration of non-Telugu terms that have crept into the volume could have been avoided with some expert advice and careful editing. There are some typographical errors which could also have been attended to. Who was the first female play-back singer of Telugu films? In the piece on Naagayya, the author mentions the name of Bezawada Rajaratnam, who sang for the dancer Samrajyam, for the movie Bhakta Pothana (1942), under Naagayya’s music direction. The author quotes V.A.K.Ranga Rao’s statement that the name of the first female play-back singer to appear on a Gramophone disc was that of Rajaratnam.

At a different place C.R.SubbuRaman is credited with the introduction of the first female playback singer in Telugu films through Chenchulakshmi (1943), by making Rao Balasaraswati Devi sing for Kamala Kotnis. The name of Tiruvaiyaru associated with saint composer Sri Tyagaraja is mentioned as Tiruvayoor.

The name of K.V.Mahadevan (KVM who was popularly known as Maamaa) has to be transliterated and pronounced as Mahaadevan, by elongating the ‘a’ occurring after ‘h’. KVM’s name was shown with different spellings even in the credit lines of the Telugu films for which he composed music. KVM once told this reviewer that his debut as a Music Director was with S.D.S.Yogi’s Tamil movie Anandan allathu Agnipuraana mahimai. The book under review mentions Devadasi in Tamil as KVM’s debut film.

In his interview with the author, B.Rajanikantha Rao informs that he joined All India Radio(AIR) as a Programme Officer. But the introductory article mentions that Rajani joined AIR as a staff artiste. T.K.Ramamoorthy (TKR) claimed in his interview that his was the first rank in AIR and it was announced from Delhi. Perhaps TKR was one among the many top ranking artistes of AIR. TKR also claimed that he composed the well known song ‘Vaazhve maayam’ (‘Jagame maaya’ in Telugu) for the film Devadas. Ghantasala who rendered the song said that it was composed by M.S.Viswanathan (TKR’s well known co-composer) while presenting it at a concert in Salem in 1956.

Ghantasala was not ‘sentenced to 18 months imprisonment at Alipore jail’ as mentioned by the author. The legendary singer was given a six month sentence (for his role in the Quit India movement). He was at different sub-jails at Gudivaada, Kaikalooru and Machilipatnam as a detenu for over eight months. He got a remission of 18 days from his prison term for his good behaviour!

Susarla Dakshinamurthy did not introduce M. Balamuralikrishna (MBMK) to playback singing. The legendary singer’s foray into films was through Sati Savitri (1957) which was released long before Narthanasala(1963).The information on Sati Savitri is found in the article on the singer and could have been correlated. Balamuralikrishna did not sing poems on the Sun God for the movie Pandava Vanavasam. What he sang was a sloka in Sanskrit. The film Bhakta Prahlada cannot be classified as a film for which MBMK performed play-back singing. He was singing for the role of sage Narada he played in the film.

The Telugu movie Kanya-Kumaari was the first one to be released under the music direction of S.P.Balasubrahmanyam (SPB).The film’s name is given as Kanyaakumaari at more than one place in the book as also under the filmography of SPB as a composer. The list of films regarding SPB's acting career includes a few dubbed movies too. SPB’s first Malayalam song was ‘Ee kadalum maru kadalum’ for the movie Kadalpaalam. The song is wrongly spelt in the book.

Music for the Tamil film ‘Oru thalai raagam’ cannot be attributed to A.A.Raj as the movie’s title card credits him only with the provision of background-score. T.Rajender provided the music for the film. The author has a problem dealing with dubbed films. He mixes up the credits; in some cases, the original composers are indicated as if they scored the music in association with the composers who worked for the dubbed versions.

Performing pradakshinam (circumambilation) around the hill in Tiruvannamalai is known as Girivalam (and not girivaram). Girivaram is not the name of the hill either. T.M.Soundararajan’s name appears as Soundaryarajan at one place.

There are too many errors of transliteration concerning words in Tamil, Kannada, Malayalam and Marathi. At most places, errors have occurred while giving names of non-Telugu films.

There are some errors in the captions given for the photographs. For example, photographs purported to have been taken while Asha Bhonsle recorded her first song ever for a Telugu film (page480), featureas L.R.Easwari instead, in one of them!

The book has some interesting aspects as well. Susarla Dakshinamurthy is said to have set the tune for the National anthem of Sri Lanka.(Was it the former version Namo Namo Maathaa or the latter Sri Lankaa mathaa in Sinhala language? Was it the Tamil version of Pt.Nallathambi?) It also speaks of Ilayaraja, though it names only three works by him. There are some interesting snippets on the first female Film music composers.

Dedicated to S.P.Balasubrahmanyam, the book is unique and would serve as a reference tool, despite shortcomings.


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