Srikakulam dialect to the fore in ‘Sittharala Sirapadu’ from ‘Ala Vaikunthapuramuloo’

Vijay Kumar Balla, lyricist of the popular song from Allu Arjun's latest, shares his unusual journey to films

Updated - November 27, 2021 04:14 pm IST

Published - January 28, 2020 03:58 pm IST

Allu Arjun in a still from the song ‘Sittarla siripadu’ from ‘Ala Vaikunthapuramuloo’

Allu Arjun in a still from the song ‘Sittarla siripadu’ from ‘Ala Vaikunthapuramuloo’

The songs in Ala Vaikunthapuramuloo were an instant hit as soon as they were released, long before the film was. However, one song was not released and when it did, it won encomiums from movie buffs as well as those fond of poetry. And that’s ‘Sittarala Siripadu’ written by Vijay Kumar Balla in the climax of the film.

Written in Srikakulam dialect, Sittarala Siripadu was innovatively choreographed, to an action sequence that showed the hero beating the pulp out of the villains in a seemingly casual manner, to the rhythm of the song. That came as a surprise to the audience.


How did it all begin? Director Trivikram Srinivas who is related to lyricist Seetarama Sastry was on the lookout for someone who could write a song in the Uttarandhra dialect. After the non-professional writer Vijay Kumar got down to the job, he wrapped up the entire song within an hour.

Vijay Kumar is an IT manager at LIC in Machilipatanam. Hailing from Odisha Jeypore on the Srikakulam border, he has a grip on the local dialect. Says Vijay, that he hardly watches films and has no connections with the film industry before Ala... However, he had written a song post- Hud hud cyclone devastation — hoping to regain the lost glory of Visakhapatnam. That song was aired on AIR and widely applauded. But he says, he never expected to write for a film one day.

He shares, “I am not a professional writer. For Ala Vaikunthapuramuloo , I was asked if there are any hero-centric songs in Srikakulam mandalikam (dialect). I got in touch with a few folklore experts for that but those songs didn’t fall in place. Then I began writing four charanams and was told to continue with another four. I wrote it within an hour. Next day, Trivikram called and thanked me for writing it all within an hour. The director asked me to come over for coffee.”

Vijay was so excited, he took selfies with Trivikram, showed him the ghazal and other songs he had written; all were noted down by the director’s team.

Vijay Kumar Balla

Vijay Kumar Balla

He recalls his conversation with Trivikram, “He narrated the episode where a girl is walking on the road and a few wastrels are following her. The hero beats them up, and there is a kaanthi (spark) in her eyes. I should write a song in a meter for that situation, he told me. Sittaralu indicates vichitram (wonderful) and Sirapadu means a youngster who keeps attempting different things, it’s like a pet name. The last charanam was cinematic. Ponnuru is a village and there are some complicated words like Guddhi Gunda Chesinaadu which means he beat them with his fist and turned them into powder. If you analyse you will find it easy to understand. The director also asked me to use a boat, but I used a Sorachepa (shark) instead, he found that catchy.”

Looking back

After completion of the film, Vijay was thrilled that in every interview, Trivikram was mentioning the writer’s contribution. Yet he was worried and confused about why his song was not being released. His shares, “I didn’t bother to find out why my song was being kept a secret; I thought they might be having their problems. Then, when I saw my name on the screen, I was very happy. I always had a desire to act in a street play; instead, my song is doing the job. Thaman did a fine job of composing the tunes and Sorranna and Saketh sang it wonderfully.”

Vijay would teach songs to his agents as lessons. Though he rues that songs and poetry in Telangana get their due recognition and Srikakulam mandalikam is ignored, he is optimistic. People will surely preserve the dialect even though stalwarts like Vangapandu Prasad Rao who sang for films, faded into oblivion.

Vijay cites an example of the dialect’s sounds, “It is still pure. They don’t say La…they say Na and it goes ‘Night antha night yesarandi’ which means there are two nights in the sentence. Actually, the second night is light. There is a beauty in it and problems too with understanding this dialect.” He reflects, “Words are changing and so is the usage; English words have become common. The Telugu language is in a precarious situation because of politicians. Wonder what would be the future of mandalikam ?”

0 / 0
Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.