He ruled the Telugu film music scene like a colossus for almost
two decades between 1971 and 1989, with a record 959 movies for
which he had composed music. In fact, almost every popular music
director of today was his disciple.
A multi-faceted personality, Chakravarthy was not only a music
director but also a lyricist, writer, actor and a dubbing artiste.
He has lent his voice for over 600 films dubbed into Telugu from
other languages. And there were many other records too in his
chequered career, which came to an abrupt end with his sudden
demise on February 3, after a brief illness. He was 65.
Born in Poonnekallu as Kommineni Apparao, Chakravarthy had learnt
classical vocal from Mahavadi Venkatappaih. During his college
days, ha had formed a music troupe, vinod orchestra in Guntur
and gave light music concerts. And he was also the main singer.
During this phase, Mangapati of HMV spotted him and invited him
to Madras. He later gave two private records for HMV, which include
"Kanna Nenoka Kala". Here he met Rajen-Nagendra who
gave him a singing assignment in the Kannada movie, "Mangala
Yoga," his first brush with film music. But that film was
not of much help to him.
To feed a large family back home, I had to take up dubbing assignments.
Except for Sivaji Ganesan, I have lent voice to every major actor
including Kamal Hassan and Rajnikanth, " the maestro once
told this writer. During this period, he even joined as an assistant
director for a Viswanati production under C.S. Rao. As part of
his job, his frequent visits to music legend K.V. Mahadevan's
house rekindled his interest in music. He wrote lyrics for seven
songs for Mahadevan, of which "Jeevitham Entho Thiyyandi"
from "Malli Pelli" was considered the best.
Soon the D-day for Chakravarthy to become a music director came,
from out of the blue in 1969, when his friend K. Chatterjee offered
him a chance to compose music for "Mooga Prema," a remake
of K. Balachander's "Tamarai Nenjam". It was Chatterjee
who had given him the screen name, Chakravarthy, little knowing
that his friend would soon ride the Telugu film music scene like
The film was release two years later, followed by big musical
hits like "Sarada", "Ida Lokam", "Mallepoovu",
"Balipeetham", "Vetagadu", "Yamagola",
"Premabhishekam", "Jebu Donga" and "Pasivadi
Pranam" to name a few.
As far as possible, he had refrained from using the original tunes
while dealing with remakes. A case in point is "Malle Poovu",
a remake of Guru Dutt's classic, "Pyaasa", where he
had not used a single tune from the original version and came
up trumps with one of his best melodious scores.
Between 1971 and 1991, his success story as a music composer spread
to 959 films, which include 60 in Kannada, four in Tamil, one
in Malayalam, and the rest in Telugu. A personal calamity stopped
him from taking further assignments in 1989. He had the unique
record of composing music for 66 films in one calendar year and
in 20 days, he had done live recording of 79 songs during 1978-79.
And he had composed background score for 57 Hindi films, made
in the South at the request of the respective music directors.
Away from the glare of publicity, Chakravarthy, more than these
records and awards, enjoyed the patronage of Telugu film viewers
He had introduced many talented instrumetalists, some of them
top ranking music directors of today. One ofhis most successful
successor, Koti says a music director he owes his career to his
mentor. "I was first a guitarist with him and then became
his assistant working for many films during my eight-year stint
under him. He always treated me like a son and a brother more
than an assistant. Be it me, Keeravani, 'Vandemataram' Srinivas,
Vasu Rao, G. Anand, Sri or Eswar, we all owe our existence in
this field to him".
Veteran singer P. Suseela agrees with him. "Apart from his
versatility as a music director, he treated me and S. Janaki like
sisters. On every Deepavali day, he used to come along with his
wife to our homes to present us with a saree. I have sung some
memorable numbers under his baton".
S.P. Balasubrahmanyam evokes similar sentiments. "He was
there when I renered my first song in 1966 and encouraged me in
a big way. He was a great humane and I lost a dear friend".
Madhavapeddi Suresh Chandra, who had assisted him for a couple
of movies, is more eloquent while saying that Chakravarthy had
brought a distinct style to Telugu film music by popularizing
the fast beat. "He had the uncanny knack of attracting both
class and mass audience with his music. He not only has the maximum
number of films to his credit but also holds the record for introducing
many musicians to the Telugu field".
Veteran musicologist V.A.K. Ranga Rao says he knew Chakravarthy
since the days he was recording comedy plays for Saraswati Stores
and considers "Ida Lokam" and "Kanchukota"
as his best works. Chakravarthy took up acting assignments occasionally,
after K. Raghavendra Rao persuade him to don the grease paint
in "Raja". He had acted in about 70 movies apart from
a few tele-seriasl. The films include - "Gopala Rao Gari
Ammayi", "Pakkainti Ammayi", "Theneteega",
"Gootolo Ramachiluka", while "Lahiri, lahiri, Lahiri"
is due for release. His role as the patriarch of a joint family
in the mega serial, "Kalisundam Raa" won much appreciation.
As a music director, Chakravarthy had always believed in combining
modernity with tradition and felt that it is the melody in the
music that lasts forever.
Says Koti, "He remained a Chakravarthy (emperor) of the Telugu
music field and will always remain one through thousands of his
songs and his place in Telugu film music is irreplaceable".