Rewind Music

‘Vandemataram’, the song that became a surname for singer Srinivas

Singer Srinivas who went on to be known as Vandemataram Srinivas after the film

Singer Srinivas who went on to be known as Vandemataram Srinivas after the film  

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C Narayana Reddy’s forceful lyric not only gave the film its title, but also a new surname to Srinivas, ‘Vandemataram’

The Hyderabad Express was about to leave the Madras Central station. A production manager of Eetharam Films, frantically scouting for the Nellore coach, finally got into it and asked a young man there to alight from it as he was required for the next day’s song recording. The bewildered young man, who got down from the moving train, was Srinivas, a law student at the V. R College, Nellore. Interestingly, his getting down from the train was linked to a past episode at the marriage of a functionary of Praja Natya Mandali, the cultural wing of Communist Party of India.

One of the popular singers with Praja Natya Mandali, Srinivas was singing a song at the marriage of Sri Ram, co-brother of actor- producer, Madala Rangarao, at Ongole. Producer Pokuri Baburao, a guest at the wedding, was so impressed by the song that he discussed with director T Krishna the possibility of using it in their untitled film.

Background to the song

C Narayana Reddy had written the poem which was published in Andhra Jyothi weekly around 1980. The patriotic song Vande Mataram (from a poem by Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay) gave a clarion call to the freedom fighters to liberate the country from alien rule. Perhaps C Narayana Reddy felt at that time that, even after three decades of Independence, the situation in the country remained the same. Inspired by the patriotic song, he expressed his anguish in the song thus: Vande Mataram Vande Mataram/ Vandematara geetham varasa maruthunnadi/ Tharam maruthunnadi aa swaram maruthunnadi…

"Both Praja Natya Mandali and Jana Natya Mandali used to take such progressive lyrics to propagate their ideals. Praja Natya Mandali gave this poem to the famed ‘Burra Katha’ exponent Banerjee for composing the tune. I am fortunate to sing it on several occasions,” recalls Srinivas.

Madala Rangarao, T Krishna and R Narayana Murthy used to incorporate such poems/ lyrics in their films by creating a situation, even if none existed in the movie’s story.

At that time Baburao and T Krishna were making the screen adaptation of Kameswara Rao’s popular play, Ee Mantalu Aarpandi. They were yet to give it a title. Baburao wanted Narayana Reddy’s lyric to be included in the movie and Krishna came up with a situation for that.

“Then I received a call from T Krishna. Anyway I had to come to Madras to render a song for Madala Rangarao’s Yerramatti. So I seized the opportunity and met T Krishna and Baburao at their office. I was asked to sing the song which was tape recorded. And that evening, when I boarded the train back to Nellore, I was summoned back,” smiled Srinivas.

“Later I came to know that initially the producers were hesitant to use my voice as they felt that since the hero (Dr. Rajasekhar) was a newcomer, it might prove risky if the singer too was a newcomer. However, T Krishna insisted on taking me on board, convincing them that ‘his voice is fresh and can carry the emotions well.’ That did it. I still think of the day and what if the train had departed and the production manager had missed me. I would have lost a great opportunity,” he avers. C Narayana Reddy’s forceful lyric not only gave the film its title, but also a new surname to Srinivas, Vandemataram.

Sujala vimala keerthanalo suphalashaya varthanalo/ Jalam leka phalam leka janam yenduthunnadi/ Malayaja seethala pada komala bhaavana baagunnaa/ Kanti kantilo theliyani manta raguluthunnadi…manta raguluthunnadi/ Tharam maaruthunnadi aa swaram maaruthunnadi/ Vande maataram Vande maataram.

The scene

An idealistic young teacher (played by Dr. Rajasekhar), who comes to a village to open a school and teach the children there, is stopped from doing so by two warring group leaders (Kota Srinivasa Rao and Narra Venkateswara Rao) for their own selfish reasons.

The teacher expresses his anguish and frustration through this song in the resonant voice of ‘Vandemataram’ Srinivas. Music director Chakravarthy retained Banerjee’s tune as it is and provided the BGM (background music).

Vandemataram was released in 1985. The song’s popularity defies time. When ‘Vandemataram’ Srinivas went to USA this July at the invitation of North America Telugu Association, he met with requests for this song in all the five cities — Chicago, Ohio, Kansas, Dallas and Seattle — that he visited and received thunderous applause.

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Printable version | Dec 16, 2019 10:16:21 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/music/c-narayana-reddys-forceful-lyric-not-only-gave-the-film-its-title-but-also-a-new-surname-to-srinivas-vandemataram/article19444358.ece

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