Rewind: ‘Tellarindi legando’ for Seetharama Sastry, a distinct voice

‘Tellarindi legando’ marked the debut of Seetharama Sastry as singer

Veteran filmmaker K Balachander took fancy to a Telugu play and started making a movie version of it. Half-way through he saw the rough cut, felt that he had not been able to capture the soul of the story and scrapped the project.

Noted producer D Ramanaidu signed director Tatineni Ramarao to bring the play to celluloid, but, after working on three different versions of it, he too did not proceed further. Finally, the play, Kallu, authored by Gollapudi Maruthi Rao, took the shape of a movie, thanks to ace cinematographer M V Raghu.

Rewind: ‘Tellarindi legando’ for Seetharama Sastry, a distinct voice

Kallu (eyes) vividly describes the travails of five blind persons, four men and a woman. An editor and his employee, a woman journalist, help one of the men to get his eyesight. Though he is now able to see the world, it is not what he had imagined.

It is a different world. With it, his psyche too changes. Instead of helping his kin, he resorts to vicious ways, corrupted by the new world around him. The other four feel that he was a better man when was blind.

Debut vehicle

Right from the time he saw the 45-minute play in his college days, Raghu had developed a fascination for the subject and chose it for his directorial debut.

With support from his friends, A L Kasturi Rao (presenter of the movie), D Vijayakumar and A L Ananda Rao (producers), he formed Mahashakti Films and launched the movie at Visakhapatnam casting newcomers, drawn from the stage and the Film Institutes.

Raghu signed (Sirivennela) Seetharama Sastry to pen the lyrics and S P Balasubrahmanyam to compose the music.

Interestingly, both of them also appeared on the screen, though in cameo roles; Seetharama Sastry as a cashier and SPB as the composer himself.

M V Raghu, who teaches at the Ramanaidu Film School when not shooting for films, recalls, “While we were having a discussion, Seetharama Sastry Garu sang a lyric --- Tellarindi legando --- that he had penned. I liked it. But there was no situation in the story to place this song. Still I wanted to have it. I like S.D. Burman’s voice, which is distinct. I found Seetharama Sastry’s voice also has a different flavour. Balu Garu too felt the same and encouraged Seetharama Sastry Garu to render the song.”

Tellarindi legando kokkoroko Manchaalika digando kokkoroko/ Paamulaanti cheekati palakarinchi poyindi/ Bhayam ledu bhayam ledu nidura musugu thiyyandi/ Aavulaanti rathiri chooru daati poyindi/ Bhayam ledu bhayam ledu aa parugu thiyyandi/ Muduchukunna rekkalidichi pitta settu idisindi/ Moosukunna reppalidisi choopu legara niyyandi/ Tellarindi legando…..

Trademark artistry The success of ‘ Kallu’ was achieved through creative guile and cultural loyalty

Trademark artistry The success of ‘ Kallu’ was achieved through creative guile and cultural loyalty  

The scene

“Everybody in the unit was wondering where I would place the song. I decided to put the song after one of the five blind characters, Rangadu (Sivaji Raja), gets his eyesight and sees, for the first time, the world around him. By January 8, 1988, we completed the entire shooting part except this song and managed to send back the unit members. I and co-director E.V.V. Sathyanarayana stayed back at Vizag, waiting for funds for our travel back to Madras. We were left with a camera, a red Sanyo tape recorder and a Maruti Omni vehicle. For two days, during Sankranthi, we both travelled to various places in the city, capturing random images from life around as it was, without distracting the objects. It is called candid photography. After returning to Madras, I sat with editor Anil Malnad for about 15 days to choose and assemble, at the appropriate places, the images that I had shot. For example, for the lyric, Kuluku vachhi thoolindi challabadda deepam, we showed a cabaret scene and for Mudripodaa maikam mannu minnu, a drunkard lying on a road by the side of a drainage.

In between, the images of the four blind persons (Bhaskara Rao, Bikshu, Srinivas and Rajeswari), led by Rangadu were cut into the song sequence,” said Raghu.


Kallu (1988) won critical acclaim as well as several awards, including four Nandis--- for best third feature film, best story (Gollapudi), best debut director and best newcomer (‘Kallu’ Chidambaram).

Incidentally, Raghu had cranked the camera for the movie, Sirivennela, the debut film of Seetharama Sastry’s as a lyricist.

And this time Seetharama Sastry turned a singer with Raghu’s debut directorial, Kallu. Raghu opines that if the film is remembered today, it is more for the song, Tellarindi legando. “I have seen in Ongole and other places that after two or three weeks of its run, some of the audience just came to watch the wakeup song. Once the song was over, they left the theatres.”

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Printable version | Feb 20, 2020 7:02:03 PM |

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