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You are at Home > Celebs > Interview > Sirivennela Seeta Rama Sastry
Interview with Sirivennela Seeta Rama Sastry by Jeevi

Date: 4th March 2002 Venue: Sirivennela Residence
Other Interviews
D Suresh Babu (Producer)
Mahesh Babu (Hero)
Lisa Ray (Heroine)
Sravanthi Ravi Kishore (Producer)
RP Patnaik (Music Director)
Smita (Telugu pop singer)
Shyam (Producer)
Karunakaran (Director)
Sri (Music Director)
Gudipoodi Srihari(Film Critic)
SJ Surya(Director)
AM Ratnam(Producer)
Tammareddy Bharadwaja(Producer n Director)
Jayant C Paranji(Director)
Kodi Rama Krishna(Director)
Chakri (JD Chakravarthy)(Hero)
Ramana Gogula(Music Director)
Naga Babu(Producer n Actor)
Continued from Part Two

Listen to the voice interview of Sirivennela Seeta Rama Sastry by clicking the link below


K Vishwanath garu has taken the ragam of 'Sankarabharanam' and conceived it as the Snake ornament of Shiva for the film 'Sankarabharanam', which is an excellent idea. When the commercial wave was ruling the industry, making a different and traditionally rich film like 'Sankarabharanam' by spending lakhs of money was a huge risk.

When there was no rains on earth, sixty thousands of 'sagara putrulu' (men of ocean) requested Ganga (goddess of water) to come on to earth to give them some water. Then Goddess Ganga told them that the earth could not afford the speed at which the water of Ganga flows. Then they requested God Shiva to control to flow of Ganga and send water to earth. Then Lord Shiva used his 'Jhata Jhooti' and controlled and converted the water into Mandakini and sent it to earth.

I wrote a song titled 'Gangadharam'. I used the above story and compared it to the Telugu cinema world where there is no kaLa (Art) in our films. When the people of Andhra requested the Gods to give them films with good artistic values, he responded to them in the form of Edida Nageswara Rao (producer) and K Viswanath (director).

When I went to the abhinandana sabha, the unit has not arrived. The police were wielding their sticks at innumerous people trying to enter the auditorium. I got inside it. A volunteer has asked me to stand at a corner and told that he would call me to the podium when my chance comes. I was very much irritated by his gesture. I told him that I was not giving them (the Sankarabharanam unit and the crowds) the chance of listening to my Gangadharam and came out of the auditorium.

But that song has become famous through my friends. They used to make me sing that 'Gangadharam' and recorded it on 100's of cassettes and floated them around. After two years, K Viswanath garu happened to listen to that song. One of my cousins learnt that song and sung it as a 'Swagata Geetam' (welcome song) when K Viswanath garu attended some function. K Viswanath came to know that the song was written by a writer called Bharani (Bharani was my pen name). K Viswanath wanted to use that song. Hence he wanted my details for permission. But my cousin told that Viswanath garu can use the song and he would convey the news to me. K Viswanath got 'Gangadharam' shortened to suit the movie lyrical style. They shot the song in Kakinada on Bala Krishna for the film 'Janani Janmabhoomi' and I was not aware of it. One of my friends told me that Gangadharam song was used in K Viswanath garu's film.

I had some kind of allergy towards the films. I never tried to meet any movie celebrities when they came to Kakinada. The only movie celebrity I tried to meet was Jandhyala garu. When I went to his house, somebody told me that Jandhyala garu was working on the upstairs and asked me to wait for him. I returned back without meeting Jandhyala garu.

K Viswanath has sent me a letter that he used my song and asked me to give the permission. I replied to him that the song was written for him. And it reached him after two years in strange circumstances and I was glad that Viswanath garu used that song. I also mentioned that I don't want any remuneration. But I wanted the name credit for that song.

When the audiocassette was released, I bought 30 cassettes. Strangely the cassette did not have that song as it was recorded after audio the release. When we the film watched on the screen, the name 'Chemburi Seetarama Sastry (Bharani)' along with Veturi Sundara Rama Murthy appeared in titles with bold letters in both Telugu and English. It was thrilling experience for me to see my name along with my hero's name 'Veturi Sundara Rama Murthy'. But the song is pretty bad when we listened to it.

On the insistence of RSS Master, I went to Madras to meet K Viswanath. At that time, he was directing the Hindi version of Sankarabharanam. K Viswanath is a serious man when he is at work. He wears khakhi dress and is very disciplined. I did not have any hesitation, fear or reverence at that time. In addition to it, I had the headstrongness. So I did not follow any protocols. I went straight on to the stage where shooting was going on and met him. He asked me who I was. I told him that my name is Seeta Rama Sastry. He asked me 'So what?' (Ante?). Then I told my pen name is 'Bharani'. Again he asked me 'So what?' (Ante?). I told him that I was the person who written 'Gangadharam'. He asked the editor Krishna that how come this gentleman is so small-framed and young person. He expected me to be a 60-year old man and have a 6-feet personality for the kind of language I used in Gangadharam. He made me sit there talked to me for a minute and treated me with respect and courtesy. Then he went to the stage to do his work. I sat there for sometime, but I had to catch my train back to AP. So I rushed to the stage again and told him that I was in a hurry and left that place. Viswanath told me that he would be busy when stays at Madras. He asked me to meet him in Anakapally when he comes there for the shooting of 'Swaty Muthyam'.

We (myself and RSS master) went to Anakapally all the way from Rajahmundry to meet Viswanath. He asked us to meet again on Tuesday. When we went on Tuesday, they vacated the place and gone back to Madras. I was very disappointed, as they did not have the minimum courtesy to intimate me about change in their schedule. It does not really matter to them how a middleclass man suffer to travel from Rajahmundry to Anakappally. They live in their own world.

During the making of 'Swati Muthyam', there was some misunderstanding between Veturi and K Viswanath. C Narayana Reddy garu wrote all the songs for that film. My friends recommended my name to K Viswanath garu as lyric writer. I sent all my songs in registered post to K Viswanath so that he can evaluate me. I got a reply that my songs were rejected. I was very angry with the field why it is treating my songs like that.

So I continued my studies and I applied for MA. Becoming a lecturer in any college was my life aim at that time. Though I was a pretty well known teacher in our circles, I am not a qualified man to become a lecturer because of my degree. The parents who send their kids to me have two complaints. The first one is that students who come to me do not want to attend any other teacher at a later point of time. The second one is that the students fail to secure pass marks in examinations as I teach them the real knowledge but not the answers to questions they get in examination. Working as a lecturer in Visakhapatnam by staying in the Andhra University lecturer's quarters was my dream. I had very less time to finish MA, as in the future a GO (Government Order) is expected which would say that Lecturer should have at least PhD as the prerequisite. I did not write the first year examination, as I did not master the entire syllabus. I read one drama of Shakespeare. That was not enough. I told my RSS master that I would give both exams in the second year. That was in 1984. I have written my final year exams. And in ten days, I had to write first year exams.

At that point of time, I got a call from Akella garu to come to Madras and see K Viswanath. I was not willing to go to Madras as Viswanath garu rejected my work couple of times when I sent my songs through registered post and through RSS master. I told my RSS master that the people in movie field are very unreliable. I had exams in 10 days and my lectureship was insured. I told my RSS master that even if Viswanath gives me a song for the film, it would take a year for the film to be released. Then the song should become a hit and appreciated by all. Then only I would get a chance to write for other films. There is so much of risk involved in this process for which I could not forego my academic year. After a night of heated discussions, my RSS master gave me Rs 400/- and thrown me into the Mail to Madras.

When I went and met Viswanath garu, he greeted me. He invited me inside and told me that he read all my songs and they are rebel and left-oriented songs just like the songs written by all other young writers. Then I understood that he has not read any of my songs as all my songs were different and none of them were left-oriented. I realized that he bluffed me.

He told me that he would narrate the story of the film. As I was a new writer, he told he would not give any tune or situation to write a song. He narrated me the entire story of Sirivennela and asked me to write a song. He did not put any restriction on the language too. The hero of the film is an uneducated man. He listens to songs somewhere and repeats them on his flute. After listening to that flute songs it should impress the people (on the screen) in such a way that they would asks him what were the lyrics for that song. After listening to lyrics, their expectations should be met. That was the objective given to me to write a song.

I was just 30 years old at that time and I had lots of energy and enthusiasm. Writing a song was like a child's play for me. I went to Akella gari house and wrote 15 versions of the song. He liked the entire 15 versions when I sang them for him. Since, I did not have expertise in dividing the song in to Charanam and Pallavi with exact length, Viswanath picked up a line from each version. He liked 'Vidhata talapuna …' line a lot. Suddenly an idea stuck me. I told him that I would narrate him a song linking to a line, which he liked. I sang the 'Viranchinai ….'. After I sang that song, K Viswanath got very much excited and told me that the song was excellent. Then I told him that this was the song, which I sent to him through registered post, which was thoroughly rejected. Then he went inside and verified the same and realized that I sent the same song.

He asked me to shorten the song to suit the filmy style. He approved the song. Meantime, Bala Subramanyam garu came to that place. Viswanath asked me to sing Gangadharam for Balu. After listening to Gangadharam, Bala Subramanyam came and hugged me and told that he wanted to sing songs like 'Gangadharam'. It was like a divine blessing for me. Then we went to KV Mahadevan garu. He started making tune out of the song. After composing half of the tune, KV Mahadevan told that the length of two 'Charanams' was not equal. I went into kitchen and counted 'guruvulu' and 'laghuvulu' in the first charanam and reconstructed the second Charanam to match the length of the first one.

K Viswanath is very much impressed with my song. So he declared that no other lyric writer is going to share the lyrics for Sirivennela film and I would be writing all the songs. A co director of Viswanath named Nanduri Vijay told me that Viswanath has not given such kind of compliment to anybody else before.

It does takes 6 - 7 months for completion of Sirivennela. I though I could continue my job till Sirivennela film is released. After the first song was recorded, I came back to Anakapally and joined my old job. With in 10 days, I got a call that A Kodandarami Reddy garu wanted me to meet him. He asked me to write a song for Chiranjeevi's Veta. Chakravarthy garu suggested me to write a song without any tune. When I went back to them with 25 versions on the next day. They were astonished. Chakravarthy garu told me that I had very good flow of language and I would become very popular soon. Then Chakravarthy garu gave me a tune and asked me to write a song. Then I wrote the song 'O Lady Koona' for Veta. From then onwards, I was made busy with offers coming in my way. Before the release of Sirivennela, ten of my films were released.

After the sensational hit of the song 'Vidhata talapuna', people started offering me to write duets for their films. I did not know how to write a duet song. I was asked to write a duet for Krishna (hero) and Radha (heroine). I wrote a lyric that starts with 'Nee Raajasaaniki Naarajanam …'. The music director for that film was Satyam garu. Satyam Garu did not like the lyrics. The director called me up and told the same thing. I got very angry. I told them that why should the music director has any problem if director and producer of the film okays the song. I told them that I am not going to write lyrics, as I am not satisfied with the music director. I lost 20 films with that kind of attitude.

Then Vijaya Bapineedu garu has called me and asked me to write a song for 'Maga Dheerudu'. He explained me the situation that Chiranjeevi goes through lots of trouble and his relatives put him into the jail. He gave me a Hindi tune. I wrote 80 versions for it. He was stunned. He did not see anybody giving 80 versions for a song. Veturi is much more faster than me when it come to writing lyrics. But he doesn't write more than two versions. But the language I used in it was very strong one. It goes like this ….. (listen to audio clip)

After listening to lyrics, Vijaya Bapineedu garu got scared of me. He gave me Rs 1,116/- and told good-bye. And he did not call me again so far to write in any of his films. I did not know how to write a film song yet. I used to get angry about why directors do not like my songs. Later on someone else wrote that song with simple lyrics. Then I understood that the directors want me to write songs in that style.

I did not understand the commercial concept of film songs, till the film Ladies Tailor came in my way. Then I went to a music shop, paid him Rs 4000/- and asked him to give me all the audiocassettes with junk duets. Then I studied those songs and got hold of the commercial way of writing lyrics.

I got Nandi award for Sirivennela song. Viswanath asked me to write 'Siva Thandavam' for Sruthi Layalu film. As I told you, I can't do any work unless I perfect that subject. Hence I bought the bulky book of Natya Sastram and read the entire book and got command over it. I learnt 10 times of what I had learnt in my 30 years after joining the film industry. Whenever I faced any challenging situations I used buy all related books and understand the subject. I got Nandi award for that film too. In the next year also, I got another Nandi award (three Nandi awards as best lyric writer for three consecutive years at the time of debut).

Even after that I faced to dilemma of leaving film industry as I had two major problems. The first one is that I had to live up to Veturi gari speed if writing lyrics to stand in the industry. I don't have even 1% of speed possessed by Veturi garu. Nobody can imitate Veturi garu. I too never tried to imitate him.

Second problem is that I can write thousands of versions for a song, if needed. But I can't change even a single word in the song if the director wants me to. There is a logical inter-link to the words used and meaning those words give out. Even in my tragedy songs, there is a sound of optimism and rays of hope. I do not accept that there is 'vishadam' in our life. Vishadam is just the interpretation of our feeling. You can view it positively too. Even if there is darkness everywhere, you can close you eyes are have beautiful dreams. It is all in our hands how we interpret situations. I wrote a song for Chiranjeevi garu in Hitler film, which goes like 'kaneellake kanneelloche …..'

The film ladies tailor is a turning point for my lyrics. Ram Gopal Varma was thoroughly influenced by the song 'sahasam naa padham … rajas am naa radham'. He came to know that I wrote that song. He came to me one day.

Want to know about meeting with Ram Gopal Varma? Rest of the 'Making of Sirivennela' In the next update!


Click here for Part Four
Sirivennela has written a book titled 'Sirivennela Tarangalu', which featured the best songs done by him and what inspired him to write those lyrics. It's an excellent book. It is priced at Rs 95/- in India ($ 9 in USA). You can get a copy of it by mailing the following address:
Sirivennela Creations (P) Limited
301, Western Plaze, Yellareddyguda, Hyderabad 500073
Phone No: 040 3739127
Interviewed by Jeevi
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