A. Saye Sekhar……… Every one has written. Most of them repeated the same thing. Some of them wrote personal experiences. All about the legendary playback singer SP Balasubrahmanyam. I also posted a few lines from his super hit numbers. I had my share in the sea of tears shed for the man who immortalised thousands of songs and etched himself in the hearts of the masses as their darling. His songs would never lose their sheen, thanks to the terrific lyricists who gave birth to the songs to suit the circumstances, scenes and situations. Directors, the chief storytellers, are the creators of the scenes. Music directors are the ones who suck the nectar and spread to all. Enlivening them are the actors. All the 24 crafts together make up for the end product that enthrals the audience.
Well, a cinematographer or a costume designer or a choreographer or a stunt master would almost get zero attention. Even the masterminds behind the latest graphics too do not get their share in the pound of flesh. It’s ok not to mention them as they chose those crafts that only restrict them to be the unsung heroes. Acknowledging others’ talents, grudgingly though, has always been a common place in any field. That coordination and collaboration, but not competition, converges into success, is not rocket science.
Because, when Veturi Sundararama Murthy turned 60 in 1995 (accurate date when he became 60 years old was January 29, 1996), a gala function was organised at the instance of SP Balasubrahmanyam and a few other cultural organisations with the collaboration of the State Government. I don’t remember whether the function was organised exactly on the same day of Veturi’s birthday or any other date closer to that. I had the privilege to cover the event for Deccan Chronicle and perhaps published it in the nearest Sunday magazine of the newspaper. Not sure of the date, though.
It was a visual treat for the audience at Ravindra Bharathi auditorium.
It was indeed a gathering of the glittering “celestial” stars of the Telugu tinsel world that descended on Ravindra Bharathi. You name a hero or a heroine or a director or a producer, a musician or a music director of the Telugu tinsel town, they were all there. And the star attraction was the Chief Guest, who was none other than the uncrowned emperor of the Filmy firmament in Telugu, Viswavikhyata Nata Sarvabhauma N T Rama Rao, the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, accompanied by his wife Lakshmi Parvathi.
The galaxy of superstars included Akkineni Nageswara Rao, Krishna, Chiranjeevi, Nagarjuna, Balakrishna, Dr D Rama Naidu, K Viswanath, Dasari Narayana Rao, K Raghavendra Rao, female playback singers S Janaki, Susheela, and heroines of the day including Jayaprada, Jayasudha, Vijayashanthi, and perhaps Sri Devi too, and a host of others.
S P Balasubrahmanyam was the Master of Ceremony, as it was his brainchild to get all the stars together there. The hall was packed more than its capacity and milling crowds spread even to outside the theatre. His compering captivated the audience.
It’s all kinematic, but sans theatrics and histrionics. Everyone showered rich encomiums on Veturi for his rich contribution of multifarious genres of lyrics. S Janaki sang a few numbers authored by Veturi. And ANR, Krishna, Dasari Narayana Rao, D Rama Naidu and a lot of others too waxed eloquent.
The compère being who he was with his undaunted command over language and mellifluous voice, it appeared as if he’s the cynosure of all eyes and ears too. He strategically placed himself as the last but one speaker in the pecking order before the Chief Minister and the grand finale was the reply to the felicitation by the legendary lyricist.
Balasubrahmanyam compiled a Garland of 60 “Pallavis” – the first ‘refrain’ of the song that is repeated after every stanza (charanam), marking the 60th birthday of the lyricist Veturi. He ensured that the greatest of Veturi’s numbers comprised the plumage of pallavis he rendered. He packaged the songs covering almost every actor, every director, every producer and in the process NTR, ANR, Krishna, Sobhan Babu (he wasn’t present), Chiranjeevi and a lot of others got three to four songs of different genres. The florilegium of “Pallavis” encompassed foot-tapping numbers like “Aaresukoboyi paaresukunnaanu” (NTR) to “Induvadana kundaradana” (Chiranjeevi) to a farrago of many others.
Marking his respect for the legendary director K Viswanath and Veturi, the bouquet of songs was taken to its crescendo with the last number “dorakunaa iTuvanTi seva…”
And the superstar singer Sripathi Panditaaraadhyula Balasubrahmanyam couldn’t resist his emotions. The conclusion was terrific with the words – “naadaatmakuDavai… naalona chelagi…. Naa praaNa deepamai… naalona velige … (this is where the lead actor suffers a heart stroke during the rendition at a concert in Sankarabharanam movie) prostrated before Veturi with tears. Veturi stood up and was dumbstruck. The entire galaxy of stars and audience stood up and gave a standing ovation. It was NT Rama Rao who bent forth first, held Balasubrahmanyam by his shoulders and made him stand up. NTR was so much touched by this gesture of the singer that he gave him a warm hug and patted on his back. Balu touched NTR’s feet too.
NTR, who usually used to retire at 7.30 pm everyday, sat through the program. And, at 10.45 pm or so, after Balasubrahmanyam’s rendition, it was NTR’s turn to speak. He spoke at length with enthusiasm and alacrity. He narrated how Veturi got introduced to the filmdom and how he got Veturi write the first single card (all songs) for a movie – Adavi Ramudu – and recalled his association with the lyricist. NTR, who in his exuberance made it contextual and delivered his master dialogue “Acharya deva…eamanTivemanTivee…” till the breathless conclusion, enthralled the audience who were just jaw-dropped at his caliber. He had a special word of appreciation for Balasubrahmanyam for the foliage of Pallavis. He placed his appreciation on record for the thoughtful presentation of tribute by the singer to the lyricist and making everyone on the dais very proud. A fest Possible only to a singer of Balasubrahmanyam’s stature. For him, someone has to congregate a garland of 40,000-odd songs and adorn him with them, now that he really joined the celestial abode…