Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Veturi Sundararama Murthy

Veturi Sundararama Murthy (Telugu: వేటూరి సుందరరామమూర్తి, 29 January 1936 – 22 May 2010), popularly known as Veturi, was a Telugu writer mostly popular for his film songs. His career in the Telugu Film Industry spanned over four decades
Veturi was born at his mother's native place Kolluru, near Tenali of Guntur district in an orthodox Telugu Brahmin's family on 29th January, 1936. His native place is PedaKallepalli near Mopidevi, in Diviseema of Krishna district, Andhra Pradesh.Veturi is a nephew of the great Telugu pandit Veturi Prabhakara Sastri. His grandfather Veturi Sundara Sastry was a poet too.


Veturi completed his schooling in Diviseema, Jaggayyapeta, near Vijayawada in Krishna district, and SSC in his grandmother's village. Later Veturi went to Madras (now called Chennai) for his intermediate studies and came back to Vijayawada where he completed his degree in S.R.R. Government College. He was a student of legendary Viswanatha Satyanarayana at this college.

Career as a Journalist

Veturi joined Andhra Prabha, as a journalist in 1952, after his education . He learned the basics of editing a news article from his senior at Andhra Prabha, Narla Venkateswara Rao, whom he considers his first teacher. In 1959, he joined a weekly called Andhra Patrika where Bapu and Mullapudi Venkata Ramana were his colleagues. He was the in-charge of Cinema section at Andhra Patrika. He also worked for the Andhra Pradesh Congress Committee's official daily newspaper called Andhra Janata, as an editor.
In 1962, he became the first and only Telugu journalist to interview the then-Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru who came to inaugurate Srisailam Hydroelectricity project. He covered the speeches of national leaders like Dr.Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan. In 1964, he worked as an assembly reporter.
His articles are said to be very catchy and witty. For instance, he referred to the meeting of MLA's in Hotel Dwaraka, nearby the Andhra Pradesh Sasana Sabha, "Adigo Dwaraka" (Telugu: అదిగో ద్వారక). His writing style caught the attention of film industry due to his prowess in using traditional poetic rules related to alliteration and rhyme for describing current affairs.

Career as a Lyricist

Entry into Films

Veturi had contacts with the Telugu Film Industry during his days as a journalist. He used to meet veteran lyric writer, Dasarathi often. Legendary Director Chittor V. Nagaiah offered him a role in his film, Naa Illu . However, two days before the shooting began, Veturi decided not to act as he felt that he was not fit for acting, and wrote a letter of apology to Nagaiah for rejecting his offer. While he was working for Andhra Prabha, Kodavatiganti Kutumbarao introduced him to the legendary actor, Sr. N.T.R, who invited him to join the Film Industry as a lyricist. In 1974, he wrote his first song "Bharatanaari Charitamu" (Telugu: భారతనారి చరితము) in the form of Harikatha, for "O Seeta Katha" under the direction of the legendary director, K Viswanath.


In 1977, actor Sr. N.T.R's Adavi Ramudu showcased Veturi's talent to pen lyrics for both inspirational and romantic lyrics. The album was an instant hit among all kinds of audiences. In 1978, K Viswanath's Siri Siri Muvva proved his prowess to express all kinds of emotions with poetry. Aathreya, the leading lyricist in those days, was known to take days for writing a song. Veturi became the first choice for directors and producers too because of his ability to write a song to director's taste in a few minutes. Proving his ability and adaptability, he never looked back after that and went on to pen 12,000 songs over his career. He wrote more mass numbers for movies like Vetagadu, Driver Ramudu and classics for movies like Sankarabharanam, Jyothi. In particular, Sankarabharanam stood as a landmark in the Telugu Film Industry and brought him into the limelight.


After the surge of his popularity during 1970's, he went on to work with a variety of directors and actors during 1980's. He wrote classics for directors like Singeetam Srinivasa Rao, Dasari Narayana Rao, Bapu, Jandhyala, Vamsy and mass numbers for directors like Raghavendra Rao, A. Kodandarami Reddy, Vijaya Bapineedu. He delivered a number of hits for senior actors like Sr. N.T.R, Akkineni Nageswara Rao, Shobhan Babu, Krishnam Raju, Ghattamaneni Krishna and upcoming stars like Chiranjeevi, Nandamuri Balakrishna, Nagarjuna, Daggubati Venkatesh. This golden period in his career saw memorable albums like Saptapadi, Subhodayam, Subhalekha, Sagara Sangamam, Meghasandesam, Mudda Mandaram, Malle Pandiri, Nalugu Stambhalata, Rendu Jalla Seetha, Amarajeevi, Sreevariki Prema Lekha, Ananda Bhairavi, Srivari Sobhanam, Mogudu Pellalu, Chantabbai, Sitaara, Anveshana, Alapana, Mayuri, Amavasya Chandrudu, Janaki Ramudu, Geethanjali.


During late 1980's, Veturi's mass-numbers garnered a lot of response from the masses resulting in directors demanding more and more of them. As a result, his work suffered and turned vulgar sometimes. At the same time, he parted with legendary director K. Viswanath due to differences in opinion . This brought in another would-be-legend lyricist Sirivennela into the picture. Soon Sirivennela and other lyricists like Bhuvanachandra, Vennelakanti made their mark in the industry, taking their share of opportunities. However, Veturi still maintained his balance between classics and mass-numbers with movies like Jagadeka Veerudu Athiloka Sundari, Sarigamalu, Seetharamayya gaari Manavaralu, Mathru Devo Bhava, Mechanic Alludu. With the death of Rajashri, Veturi was given the opportunity to dub a lot of Tamil, Malayalam and Hindi movies. Some of his dubbed albums like Iruvar, Devaraagam got very good acclaim. He took a short break from movies and came back with the film, Choodalani Vundi.


During this period, Veturi was stereotyped and often selected for writing only mass-numbers. Consequently, he often wrote a song or two in each movie, and typically mass-numbers. Nevertheless, with veteran directors like K. Raghavendra Rao and K. Viswanath, he gave classics like Gangotri and Swarabhishekam. His association with young directors like Sekhar Kammula, Gunasekhar, gave some memorable albums like Anand, Godavari, Varudu, Leader. Veturi last wrote the lyrics for Mani Ratnam's "Villain 2010" (dubbed version of Raavan). While this film was the one that had seen its audio release before Veturi's demise, there are many more lined up for audio/theatrical release, including K. Viswanath's Subhapradam.

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