Lyricist Chandrabose weaves magic with his words

Lyricist Chandrabose, the co-winner of the Oscar for Best Original Song for ‘RRR’s ‘Naatu Naatu’, attributes his success to being rooted in native traditions

March 13, 2023 04:24 pm | Updated 08:53 pm IST

Lyricist Chandrabose

Lyricist Chandrabose

Standing next to MM Keeravani who had just finished rendering his version of The Carpenters’ ‘Top of the world...’ to a cheering audience, the co-winner of the Academy Award award for Best Original Song, lyricist Chandrabose could barely manage a ‘Namaste’. An overwhelming moment for someone who usually holds forth with his free-flowing articulation.

A song that took birth during a car drive in Hyderabad, Chandrabose struck upon the words ‘Naatu Naatu’ while returning from a briefing by music director Keeravani. Two stars, known for their immense dancing skills were to synchronise their steps to lines that should not be critical of anyone, not even the Britishers but showcase their native prowess and strengths. The Telugu word naatu means ‘rustic or raw’ and ‘to sow’, unlike the Hindi dubbed version which uses the term ‘ naacho’ which means ‘dance’. 

For the song, Chandrabose had to keep in mind the rural lifestyle of Telangana and Andhra regions from where Komaram Bheem and Alluri Sitaramaraju hailed respectively. The words rolled, bringing alive the rawness of the natives, their culture, their poverty and also their strengths — Yerra jonna rottelona mirapa thokku kalipinattu.... 

After a 19-month finetuning process and 35 versions by Keeravani, ‘Naatu naatu’ video was released to overwhelming success in 2022; the lyrics caught on with the listeners along with the viral hook steps of the dance. The song gives a deja vu feeling to the Telugu audience mesmerised by Chandrabose’s lyrics in Sukumar’s Rangasthalam: Thirunallalo thappi ediseti biddaku edurochhina thalli sirunavvulaaga yentha sakkagunnaave. Steeped in native, day-to-day lifestyles, Chandrabose’s lyrics are woven into the narrative, a trait and flair that brings fresh sensibilities to the fore.

Expanding repertoire

Born in Challagariga village of Warangal district in Telangana, Chandrabose is a B.Tech graduate from Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University (JNTU). He entered the industry aspiring to be a playback singer but as luck would have it, became a lyricist starting with the song ‘Manchu Kondalloni Chandramaa’ for the film Taj Mahal (1995). His song ‘Ekkado putti, ekkado perigi’ for SS Rajamouli’s Student No 1 (2001) with NTR Jr, brought him into the reckoning.

Working for different directors and composers, Chandrabose rose to an occasion and experimented with moods and lyrics. Be it the popular ‘Mounamgane Edagamani‘ in Autograph (2004), ‘Panchadhara Bomma Bomma’ in Magadheera (2009) to ‘Kanipenchina ammake’ in Manam (2014) and the sensual ‘Ooh antava’ and ‘Srivalli..’ for Pushpa - The rise (2021), Chandrabose penned lyrics that captured the spirit of the movie even as he stayed true to native Telugu terms. In the last 28 years of his career, he has carved a niche for himself among producers, directors and music directors who seek lyrical compositions that enhance their films.

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