Melody queen and the lullaby

Lata Mangeshkar’s song in Telugu ‘Nidura Pora Thammuda’ was a trend setter in being a theme song that unites lost siblings

Updated - April 27, 2017 03:34 pm IST

Published - April 27, 2017 03:33 pm IST

Snapshots from the song, featuring baby Vijayalakshmi, Nageswara Rao Jr. Balu; Sriranjani Jr. with a child actor; ANR; Sriranjani Jr

Snapshots from the song, featuring baby Vijayalakshmi, Nageswara Rao Jr. Balu; Sriranjani Jr. with a child actor; ANR; Sriranjani Jr

November 9, 1954. Lata Mangeshkar was at Vauhini recording theatre in Madras (now Chennai) to sing for the Sinhala movie Sadasulang, under the baton of Susarla Dakshinamurthy. The next day a journalist from the then popular film magazine Kinema , brought out by Chandamama Publications, met her at Woodlands Hotel. During the course of the interview, Lata Mangeshkar expressed a wish to sing a Telugu song. She recalled that she had missed an earlier opportunity due to illness, when Raj Kapoor offered her to render her songs from Aah for its Telugu version, Premalekhalu . She opined that since her mother tongue Marathi and Telugu had similar phonetics, it was easy for her to render songs in Telugu. The article appeared in the magazine’s December issue.

Roping in Lata

At that time music discussions were being held for Sadhana Films’ Santhanam, directed by the film’s producer CV Ranganath Das. The movie starred A Nageswara Rao, Savitri and Sriranjani Jr. in the lead. Incidentally, Susarla Dakshinamurthy was also the film’s music director. Learning that Lata Mangeshkar was interested in singing a Telugu song, he seized the opportunity and requested her to sing a lullaby which was also a vital element in the film’s narrative.

Lata recorded the song on January 4, 1955 at Revathi Studios recording theatre. Later the studio was acquired by B Nagi Reddi who rechristened it as Vijaya Studios.

Nidura Pora Thammuda/ Niduralona Gathamunantha/ Nimushamaina Marachipora/ Karunaleni Ee Jagaana/ Kalatha Nidure Melura…

Anisetty Subbarao’s soul-stirring lyric portray the anguish and trauma of a helpless girl who, while putting her toddler brother to sleep, sings the lullaby. Lata Mangeshkar’s melancholic rendition takes one into a trance.

The song is placed at three different situations in the movie. In the first instance, when Rangaiah (played by S V Rangarao), unable to fend for his three motherless children after he loses his eyesight in an accident in the factory he works, deserts them. The responsibility of bringing up her two brothers, Ramu (Kapila Nageswara Rao) and the toddler Babu (Kapila Balu) fall on the nine-year-old Lakshmi (Baby Vijayalakshmi). As the toddler burns his hand in the firewood stove, Lakshmi, to put him to sleep sings the lullaby which also narrates their deprived life.

Haunting voice

The second instance is the grown-up Lakshmi (Sriranjani Jr.) while attending on an orphaned boy who is also named Ramu, sings the song to put him to sleep. Incidentally, her brother Ramu (A. Nageswara Rao) who is separated from her during childhood also sings part of the lullaby in the desolately haunting voice of Ghantasala, showcasing his solitude despite having a luxurious life.

In the third instance the song appears before the climax scene when Lakshmi seeks some monetary help from the owner of the factory where she works. The owner is none other than her own brother Ramu. However, they do not recognise each other. He doles out a pittance to her and drives away the car. In desperation, Lakshmi, wandering in the street, sings a few lines from the lullaby.

Interestingly, the lullaby turns into a family theme song in the pre-climax. Ramu listens to Lakshmi’s rendition and recollects his childhood days when his sister rendered it. He follows her to her home where he finds Babu (Chalam) too. Thus, may be inadvertently, the song also sets a trend to trace the lost siblings.

The songs from the film were choreographed by Venugopal. However, the lullaby was the director’s song. Though Ranganath Das was credited with the direction, the stamp of L V Prasad, who supervised his work on the sets, was visible throughout. L V Prasad remade Santhanam in Hindi as Beti Bete (1964) with Sunil Dutt, Mehmood and the southern heroines Jamuna and B Saroja Devi in the lead. Lata sang the lullaby, Aaj Kal Mein Dhal Gaya composed by Shankar-Jaikishan also became quite popular.

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