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Shreshta, with a string of hits to her credit, says it wasn’t easy to establish herself as the first female lyricist in Telugu cinema

As we speak to the unassuming Shreshta, it takes a while to register that this is the lyricist behind a few fine melodies in recent times. She has penned the much-popular ‘Chinuku taake’ and ‘Merise Merise’ from Pelli Choopulu. Arjun Reddy’s ‘Madhurame’ and ‘Gundelona’; ‘Enno Enno Bhaavaley’ and ‘Neevallaney’ in this week’s release Yuddham Sharanam have are been written by her.

Shreshta debuted as a lyricist with Oka Romantic Crime Katha and has written a few songs for Ko Ante Koti and Courier Boy Kalyan among other films, but it took composer Vivek Sagar’s Pelli Choopulu to give her the recognition she craved for in the Telugu film industry. Obviously, she’s excited about having worked with Vivek Sagar again for Yuddham Sharanam.

Songwriter chronicles

When she debuted with song credits in Oka Romantic Crime Katha, she was lauded as Telugu cinema’s first female lyricist. Shreshta’s happiness was short lived. She realised that bruised egos and insecure peers could come in the way of her getting more work. “I was low on confidence while working on Pelli Choopulu. Vivek Sagar and Tharun Bhascker were supportive and gave me a month’s time to write the lyrics,” she says.

Shreshta hails from Mancherial and is armed with LL.B from Osmania University. She remembers having a way with words since school days. “I used to write poems and was encouraged by my grandfather Panchadhara Venkata Kishan. I didn’t know I could make a career out of writing in cinema,” she avers.

While studying in Osmania University, Shreshta met a few people associated with the industry. “I didn’t have a film background and didn’t know how to begin. Through a contact, I met an established writer and asked for guidance. That’s when I realised there are deep rooted gender disparities. I refused to give in to any overtures and was firm that I was looking for a way forward only with my writing skills,” she recalls.

The personality she had met told her that talent alone won’t fetch her work. Until then, being a lyricist had not been her top priority. She was stung by his remarks and wanted to prove her merit. “If not cinema, I was determined to save money and bring out an independent album,” she says.

Turning point

Meanwhile, at Osmania University, classes were often disrupted by Telangana agitations. She used this time to do a Company Secretary course in Chennai. “I happened to meet actor Bhanu Chander and a few others and realised that not everyone is mean to a woman looking for a foothold in cinema.” Vennelakanti was impressed with her writing: “He suggested I seek an opportunity to be a lyricist and not be an assistant to any writer.”

After director Sunil Kumar Reddy’s Oka Romantic Crime Katha, she was recognised at Cine Maa Mahila Awards in 2013. The award, she says, opened up another can of worms. “A few insecure smooth talkers did their best to stop me from getting work. They didn’t like it that someone with no industry backing could write for Gautham Menon’s production (Courier Boy Kalyan). I couldn’t cope with the negativity and took a break. At one point I thought I am better off without writing for cinema. Pelli Choopulu came at the right time and changed everything for me,” she says.

Writing and composing

Her recent work has helped her get a few more films, including those backed by Madhura Sreedhar, Tammareddy Bharadwaja and Big Ben Productions. There’s pride when Shreshta talks about ‘Gundelona’, the song that plays through the end credits of Arjun Reddy. Rendered by Sowjanya without instrumental support, this song was also composed by Shreshta. “Director Sandeep (Reddy Vanga) was encouraging and felt I could also compose,” she signs off.

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Printable version | Dec 12, 2019 11:06:51 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/movies/shreshta-with-a-string-of-hits-to-her-credit-says-it-wasnt-easy-to-establish-herself-as-the-first-female-lyricist-in-telugu-cinema/article19635781.ece

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