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As charming as an earlier era


Music maestro Saluru Rajeswara Rao had, in an interview to The Hindu (March 12, 1993), described director Singeetham Srinivasa Rao, who learnt Carnatic vocal under him, “as a man with music knowledge.” Incidentally, the veteran director is being presented with the ‘Saluru Rajeswara Rao Award,’ instituted by Rasamayi, a Hyderabad-based cultural organisation, on October 10.

The films directed by Singeetham, besides having a strong narrative, a quality he had imbibed from his mentor KV Reddi, are rich in music too. One such hit song from his repertoire was Nerajaanavule from the movie, Aditya 369 (1991), which was claimed to be the first full-fledged science fiction film in Telugu. Produced by Sivalenka Krishnaprasad, the movie was presented by S P Balasubrahmanyam.

Explaining how he thought about the song, Singeetham recalls: “In the movie, a time machine takes the lead pair into the past and the future. As they travel back 500 years, to the Krishnadevaraya period, I desired to place there a semi-classical song in a situation where the court dancer attempts to seduce the hero. At the music sittings, when I told Ilayaraja to compose a tune for the song in accordance with the olden times, the music director asked me what did I mean by aa kaalapu paata and how it used to be in those days. I told him that generally, in early talkies, the songs had such lines as aahaa ha... Oho ho interspersed with the lyric. So if we too follow that, we would get the fragrance.” Veturi Sundararama Murthy enriched Ilayaraja’s excellent composition with his classic artistry. Jikki’s soulful rendition made it an evergreen hit.

The song

Nera jaanavule varaveenavule giliginchitaalalo / Jaanavule mrudupaanivile Madhusantakaalalo/ Kannulalo Sarasapu vennelalo / Sannalalo gusagusa temmerale / Movi gani moggaganee moju padina velalo / Jaanavule....

Momatu dochi muripemu penche laahirilo / Moogavugaane muralini voode vaikharilo / Cheli vompulalo hampikalaa vooge vuyyaala / Cheli paiyyadalo tunga alaa ponge eevela / Mariyaadaku viri paanupu savarinchavemiraa / Jaanavule...

The scene

Hema’s (played by Mohini) father Ramdas (Tinu Anand), a scientist, creates a time machine that can travel into past and future. While chasing a thief, a constable (Velu) enters into it and faints after a shock. A few children playfully get into it and press a button which initiates the launch of the machine. Krishnakumar (Nandamuri Balakrishna) and Hema save the children, but before they could alight from the craft, it flies. The time machine goes back 500 years and takes them to the Krishnadevaraya period. Krishna saves Rayala’s court dancer Simha Nandini (‘Silk’ Smitha) from a dacoit gang. Nandini falls in love with him, invites him to her chamber and, in an act of enticement, sings this song.

“The song was recorded at Prasad Studios in Chennai. We shot it at two floors in Annapurna Studios, Hyderabad. Sundaram Master choreographed the song with his sons Prabhudeva (who has independently choreographed for the song, Centurylu kotte vayassu maadi in the movie) and Raju Sundaram as his assistants,” chips in Krishnaprasad. Interestingly, it was Raju Sundaram’s first movie as an assistant dance director. And the movie also marked the Telugu debut for Mohini.

S Janaki’s gesture

Singeetham Srinivasa Rao narrated an interesting incident that took place during the recording of the song. “Since Jikki was a senior singer who belonged to an earlier era, we had signed her to render the song. That day, we first finished the recording of a song by S Janaki. When she was about to leave the recording theatre, Jikki entered to sing her song. Janaki greeted her with folded hands. We thought she would leave after paying her respects to the senior singer as she had to attend a private function. But, Janaki accompanied Jikki into the theatre. That day Jikki was not getting her lines properly and was also forgetting the lines. Janaki stayed back, despite her husband, Ramprasad, reminding her of the function they had to attend. She stood next to Jikki, prompted the lines to her and revitalised her energy with encouragement. Janaki stayed on till the recording was over at about 10 pm. A thoughtful gesture of a great singer, towards her senior. Whenever I think of this song, this incident lingers in my mind.”

Interestingly, with an extended lyric, the Nerajaanavule song was also sung by S P Balasubrahmanyam and S P Sailaja and was filmed on the lead pair.

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Printable version | Jun 16, 2021 12:24:32 PM |

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