RMIM Archive Article "220".
From the RMIM Article Archive maintained by Satish Subramanian
# RMIM Archives..
# Subject: Music director: Adi Narayana Rao
# Posted by: Sreenivas Paruchuri
# Author: Sreenivas Paruchuri
From the RMIM Article Archive maintained by Satish Subramanian
(There are many Indian music directors who have worked only in a
few films. Yet very few have managed to leave such an unique
signature on Indian film music as P. Adinarayana Rao has. Con-
sider the fact that in a long career spanning over three and a
half decades he scored music for less than thirty films. And it
is a no mean accomplishment to capture the hearts of Hindi film
audience with just two films. 25th January marks his (6th) death
anniversary of this great master who gave us such gems as "anaar-
kali", "suvarNa sundari" and "bhakta tukaaraam"
Adinarayana Rao was born in 1915 in Kakinada (some sources place
his year of birth in 1918, in Vijayawada). He was introduced to
the stage at a very young age of six, playing the role of
"naarada" in the play: "Savitri" under Rajarajeswari Naatya
Mandali's baton. He went on to study classical music under
Patrayani Sitarama Sastry, a prominent personolity of those days,
in Saluru, a major center for music in the early decades of this
century. Later he completed his matriculation from Kakinada. At
age 12, with an impressive talent to play many instruments, and
literary interests, he started working as a music composer and a
He was highly popular in Kakinada theatre circles and was affec-
tionately called "abbaayi gaaru", a name which he retained even
after entering films. "Veedhi Gaayakulu", "Black Market",
"Vasanta sena" were some of his plays. Starting his career at
Burmah Shell Amateurs Troupe, he blossomed in to a big artist at
the well-known, now almost forgotten, Young Mens Happy Club,
which had given famous artistes like Gandikota Jagannatham, S.V.
Ranga Rao, Relangi Venkata Ramayya, Anjali Devi to Telugu
Cinema/stage. It was here that he met his future wife, Anjali,
who was under his tutelage and later went on to become a leading
actress of the Indian silver screen.
His first attempt to join the film field was in 1941. Chittur V.
Nagayya, the legendary actor, director and music composer was
ruling the Telugu film field supreme with his compositions in
films like "vandEmaataram" (1939), "sumangaLi" (1940), "dEvata"
(1941). Highly influenced and mesmerized by his music, Adinaray-
ana Rao wanted to work under the maestro. He was introduced to
Nagayya by film star A. S. Giri (of sumangaLi fame). He was
asked to come after 1-2 months, but somehow he did n't go to
Madras and remained away from film field till mid-40s.
The following composition by him written for the play: "Veedhi
Gaayakulu" in 1944, shows his admiration and respect for Nagayya:
naagayya naTanalO naaNyamerungaka
#Saigal# naTanakai sambhramEla .........
It is in veteran film maker B V Ramanandam's, "varudhini" (1946)
he got his first break in films. The oppurtunity came through
S.V. Ranga Rao, nephew of Ramanandam and a YMHC member (inciden-
tally this was the debut film for Rangarao too). Although he was
initially assigned to write lyrics and compose music, profes-
sional differences led to the abrupt ending of the project after
recording just two songs, and he returned to Kakinada.
Later he worked for a couple of films writing lyrics and/or
composing music, which include C. Pullayya's (another native of
Kakinada), the highly successful, "Gollabhama" (1947, co-MD:
Dinakara Rao), in which Anjali made her debut. The songs/verses
from Gollabhama are a real delight to hear; chandamaama
andamaina, priyatamaa!, bhoopati jampitin, valapu teniyalu, etc.
They are in my opinion ahead of their time in terms of pace (can
be compared to the ones from 60s! It would be of great interest
to me to know, who composed which song).
Its through "palleToori pilla" (1950), a film based on Sheridon's
play: "Pijjaro", he became a full-fledged music director, thanks
to his friend B A Subba Rao, who was making his directorial debut
and went on to make a highly successful career. His adaptation of
Spanish tunes - "dheera kampanaa" - with superb orchestration,
and usage of Telugu folk melodies set new trends. Songs like:
chiTapaTa chinukula duppaTi taDisenu, Saanta vanTi pilla lEdOyi
(young Pithapuram Nageswara Rao singing this beautifully) were
treats to music lovers. His next venture; "tilOttama" (1951) was
a disappointment. Its music reached very few people since it was
neither a commercial success at box-office nor were the songs
released on records.
In 1949 he founded "Aswini Pictures" with Akkineni Nageswara Rao
and makeup artist K. Gopala Rao, producing "maayalamaari" (1951,
Tamil: Mayakkaari). Though it ran for 100 days, the music was
only a moderate success. So was "annadaata" (1954), made on the
same banner. He wrote some lyrics for "palletoori pilla" and
"annadaata" too. "annadaata" also heralded the beginning of the
successful team with himself, ANR & Anjali (in lead cast) and
Director Vedantam Raghavayya, which continued unbroken for more
than a decade.
In 1951 he separated from Aswini banner and founded his own pro-
duction house; "Anjali Pictures" making "paradESi" (1953, Tamil:
Poongottai, with songs like: pilichindi kaluva puvvu - jikki,
nEnenduku raavaali - Jikki, Pithapuram, etc.) under the direction
of L. V. Prasad. The superb compositions in big budget "anaar-
kali" (1955) and "suvarNna sundari (1957) that followed under
this banner brought him tremendous recognition. Volumes can be
written on these two great musicals. Though a couple of tunes
were partly based on Ramachandra Chitalkar's tunes from Hindi
version of "Anarkaali" (1953) rest showed his enormous creative
talents. the rest showed his enormous creative talents. The song
"raajasekharaa nee pai moju teera leduraa" still lingers on every
one's tongue. So are: kalise nelaraaju kaluva chelini - Ghanta-
sala, Jikki, sOjaa raajakumari - A. M. Rajah.
Suvarna Sundari was the high point in his career. It was a block-
buster hit running to full houses at all the places it was
released for over 6 months. Described as the "Bible to box-
office laws" by film critics, it showed the way to later day
"formula" filmmakers. It had all the elements, in proper dosage,
to attract all sections of film goers. "piluvakuraa alugakuraa,
haayihaayigaa aamani saage, bommalammaa bommalu, Eraa manapaaTi
dheerulevvaruraa" remain ever-green hits. The raagamaalika set to
four Hindusthani Ragas made him very popular and won him many
awards and recognition all over India! Some critics unfairly
accused him of plagiarising "piluvakuraa" and "haayi haayigaa"
tunes from Vasant Desai's _milan hon kaise_ ("Dhuaan" 1953) and
Anil Biswas's _ritu aaya, ritu jaaya_ ("Hamdard" 1953) respec-
tively. But there is very little truth in that. No one can deny
the creative prowess in his works.
Riding high on the success, he embarked on his second Hindi pro-
duction: "Phoolon Ki Sej" (1964), based on Gulshan Nanda's
novel: "andheri biran", with big starring. It turned out to be
his last hindi film. This film virtually lead the couple to
ruins, losing whatever they earned over 17 years. It was a major
setback especially at a time when Anjali was considering her
retirement from the films after acting in 100 films. Even melodi-
ous songs like: aa tu jaraa dil mein (Lata, Mukhesh), abhin jaa
rasiya (Lata, Manna), pyar ko madhur madhur (Asha, Rafi), taronki
aankhon ka (Lata) could not stop the disaster.
It took nearly a decade for the next 'big' hit from
Adinarayanarao's house; "bhakta tukaram" (1973), portraiting the
life-story of saint-composer Tukaram. This is yet another gem
from the master with memorable songs like: ghanaa ghana sundaraa
- Ghantasala, poojaku vELaayeraa - P. Susila, unnaavaa asalun-
naavaa - Ghantasala, sari sari vagalu telisera - P.Susila etc.
"alluuri seetaraama raaju" (1974), the life-story of revolution-
ary freedom-fighter, followed soon, making his name well-known to
the next generation of Telugus, gaining fame to both the
producer/actor Krishna and Adinarayana rao himself. The whole
audience waited along with the heroine for seetaramaraju while
she was singing "vastaaDu naa rOju" (P. Susila). SriSri's "telugu
veera levaraa deeksha booni saagaraa" was immortalised by his
tune and has become a classic patriotic song. He never worked
for any other production houses in the later period, except for
film actor Krishna's productions.
His creation "mahaakavi kshEtrayy" (1978) is a testimony to his
quest for perfection and authenticity. He travelled through the
coastal districts of Andhra Pradesh, along with well known Telugu
poet, historian and film-writer Arudra, interviewing several
dEvadaasis, who have been singing kshEtrayya padam-s for centu-
ries. Unfortunately such thorough fieldwork, and compositions
like: ashTa vidha naayika varNana, Sreepati sutu baariki (Ramakr-
ishna), chedero naa saamiki (swapna sundari, famous danseuse)
could not guarantee the film's commercial success.
Certainly we can not forget his other films like; "adutta vittu
penn" (1959, Tamil, with P B Sreenivas's solo "Vaadaada malar"),
"Runaanubandham" (1960, "andamain baava aavu paala kova", "nindu
punnami nela"), "swarNa manjari" (1962, madhuramaina guru deevana
- Nagayya, P. Susila, raavE naa praNaya roopiNi - Ghantasala),
"satee sakkubayi" (1966, ranga rangaa rangayanandi - Ghantasala).
The last one was also dubbed in to Marathi as "sakhu ali pandar-
pura" (1969), winning critical acclaims in Maharashtra too.
"ammakOsam" (1971), "agni pareeksha" (1970, (konDapai ninDugaa
koluvunna maa talli kanakadurga - Ghantasala), "kalyaaNa man-
Dapam" (1971), "pedda koDuku" (1973), "kannavaari yillu" (1978)
are his other films.
Apart from his own compositions he left his imprint on the music
field indirectly too. Later highly successful music directors;
Totakura Venkata Raju (a.k.a T V Raju), Satyam and Lakshmikant-
Pyarelal duo (Phoolonki Sej) worked as his assistants.
An "unusual influence of Hindusthani classical music and Marathi
Natya Sangeet" on Telugu film music is attributed to him. Early
Marathi (and Parsi) touring drama troupes left their indelible
mark on Telugu stage by the end of 19th century. It is a no
surprise since Adinarayanarao who followed the music styles
keenly and heard the music of legendary artists of Telugu stage
like Tungala Chalapati Rao, K. Raghuramayya, Jonnavittula
Seshagiri Rao, C.S.R. Anjaneyulu, et al grasped these styles as
His exposure to classical music and stage music from early years
at Saluru and Vijayanagaram certainly helped him in better
understanding of Hindustani music. Well known music critic V.A.K.
Rangarao credits Adinrayana Rao for introducing Hindustani music
in contemporary flavour and simplified orchsetration, and thereby
impressing both laymen audience as well cognoscenti. It is this
music that survives him enthralling all the music lovers.