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Velugu Needalu

Here is the start of the series that focuses on the many greats who lurk in the shadows behind the silver screen bringing out the best in them, to radiate and redirect their brilliance onto the silver medium. We hope that these articles would focus our attention and applause to these true "stars" to whom limelight and spot lights do not usually beckon upon.
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A Tendulkar's century is "yet another" century, a great invention of Edison, like a phonograph , was "one among" his inventions, a great song by Gulzar is "one more" in his oeuvre. It is quite easy to forget what a person has achieved in his lifetime, to what great heights he scaled, to what critical acclaim he was greeted with, if he still continues to live among us and does what he did best irrespective of the popular opinion. The man in question vacillated between the extremes - brilliance was balanced with mediocrity, playfulness was subdued with utter seriousness, pathos was treated with the same intensity as the rage inside. It would not be grossly exaggerating to note that no conceivable emotion in entire human spectrum was left untouched by his word. Ironic it is, when there are no words that wrap around his overall achievement. A man of his word, a man of many words - Sri Veturi Sundara Rama Murthy.

In the sea, after a huge tide dies down, there would be a period of lull in which it would seem that there never would be another tide of that same proportion and magnitude that would overwhelm everything in the immediate vicinity and the period of calm and quiet would continue forever, and nature has it, that there surely would rise another tide. During the mid 70s, when Aatraeya, Cinaare, Srisri and Aarudra were ebbing towards eternal calm, one voice stepped in and made the transition seem as unique, as vibrant and as different as anybody had seen till then. Where all the aforementioned poets had distinctive tones that were instantly recognizable in their lyrics, Veturi with his inimitable expanse in his range reminded of Aatreya in his simplicity of language, Cinaare in his richness of expression, Srisri in his force of thought, Aarudra in his alliterations of usage, thus making him the consummate expressive voice of his times.

Stepping in during the most troubling period for telugu music, Veturi ventured into new territory, where the context, the subject and the topic proved as props and transcended into more playful nature of lyric writing. Consider his "aaku caaTu pinde taDise" lyric (aDavi rAmuDu) - the song which would remain the yardstick to rain songs, and one which would serve as his template for the innumerable dry songs that he would pen in his career - one where the director offers nothing more than a "regular duet" lead, one where the character has to burst into a song for no apparent reason, one where the presence of the song would neither aid the narrative nor make any sense. His career can be demarcated by the eras during which his contributions were paramount, significant and noteworthy, in the same order - the 70s, 80s and the 90s.

After a notable debut in "O seeta kadha", Veturi teamed up again with Sri. K.Viswanath for "siri siri muvva" - a nava rasa bharitha racana. His delicate dealing with words and emotions for the song "godaaralle eenneTTo godaaralle (oDupunna pilupu odigunna pulupu oka gontulOnae palikindi)", the emotional and explosive barrage for the song "raa digi raa (vikaTa naTaspada visphulingamula vilaya taanDavamu salipina neeve, Silavae aitae pagilipO, SivuDae aitae ragilipO)", the profoundly philosophical yet yeoman like simplicity for the song "evarikevaru ee lokam lO (vanaa kurisi velisaedi vaagulO, vaagu vanka kalisaedi nadilO, nadulu kadali caeraedi kaDalilO, aa kaDali kalisaedi endulO?)", the pada and bhaava laalityam for "andaaniki andam ee puttaDi bomma (palaka manna palakadee pancadaara cilaka, kulukae singaaramaina kona siggula molaka)" offered a glimpse of his repertoire. When the late 70s saw an explosion of low budget but tasteful features like "pantulamma", "rama chiluka", "padahaaraeLLa vayasu", "inTinTi ramayanam" etc, Veturi was leading the fore, dishing out even tasteful lyrics to meaningful and subject sensitive contexts.

1977 was a watershed moment in Veturi's career wherein "SankaraabharaNam" and "aDavi raamuDu" released with a span of an year crowned Veturi as an ambidextrous bard - peerless and priceless. Winning commercial acclaim for his artistic prowess and winning critical acclaim for his commercial forays, Veturi continued marching along the paths of commercially artistic and artfully tasteful with great ease and equal aplomb. He balanced every "omkaara naadaanu sandhaanamau gaanamae" with "olammee tikka raegindaa", he countered every "cilaka koTTuDu koDitae" with "yeDaarilO kOyila tellaranee raeyilaa", he meted the same treatment to "kokilamma peLLiki konantaa sandaDi" as he dished out to "kiraataarjuneeyam". His command over the variations of the language, his ability to mix the complex with the colloquy, his treading of the fine line between showing his trade and showing off his talent, earned him critics' accolades and won him audience's hearts.

Veturi's entry and subsequent establishment in the filmdom was as dramatic as the quote that is usually ascribed to Julius Ceasar - Veni Vidi Vici (He came, He saw, He conquered). Veturi successfully completed the first part in the 70s and eventually went to finish off the quote in the 80s.

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More series of articles by Srinivas Kanchibhotla
Some Ramblings on recently released films
Aani Muthyalu - Good films, but box office failures

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