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Veturi Murthy

Veturi Sundararama Murthy (born 29 January 1936) (popularly known as Veturi) born in a Telugu brahmin family, is a Telugu poet more popular for his film songs. He is a disciple of the legendary Viswanatha Satyanarayana. While working as a journalist, Veturi got his first break in movies through Dr.K.Viswanath. Later, he would go on to pen thousands of songs. NT Rama Rao, the legendary actor and director too had employed him for a number of movies.

He worked as journalist for prominent magazines like Andhra Patrika and Andhra Prabha. Later, he started penning lyrics. He penned over 10,000 songs so far. Veturi wrote a large variety of songs ranging from classic poetry to the folk and mass ones. He is also the second lyricist from Telugu film industry to win the National Film Award for Best Lyrics for the song Raalipoye puvva neeku ragaalenduke from the picture Maathrudevobhava (Music: Keeravani M, Director: Ajay Kumar, Producer: Rama Rao K S) in the year 1994. But he gave back the award since Telugu was not recognized as an ancient language. That is his love on Mother Tongue

Veturi cherishes his professional relationship with the national award winning Telugu film director, Dr.K.Viswanath and the renowned music composers K. V. Mahadevan & maestro Ilaiyaraaja.

Veturi is a relative of the late Veturi Prabhakhar Sastry, whose blood line runs throughout the world, in countries such as: India, USA, Britain, Australia, Canada, France, Italy, etc.

Style

Veturi has a unique style, which no one could imitate. He has got amazing capabilities in language as well as imagination/creativity. His style is romantic with deep feelings. Sometimes, he prefers to swerve from his style to provide lip-sync for dubbing movies.

He is a master of the language. The language, he uses in lyrics, ranges from meaningless words to most meaningful words in life. Many a time, he pens phrases which have no apparent purpose; but they possess in-depth meaning. An example is: gasagasala kougilinta which translates to your hug is as intoxicating as the seeds on the poppy plant. He conveys the most unexplainable feelings in simple words. An example is: anagala raagamai toluta veenualalarinchi, analEni rAgamai maralA vinipinchi which translates to (the music of your flute) pleased my ears once, later it resounded in my heart as an inexpressible feeling.

His knowledge in classical telugu poetry is evident from the figures of speech (alankaaralu). Here are three verses from the same song: acceruvuna acceruvuna viccina kannulajUDa (They watched Lord Krishna in wonder dancing in the lake), aabaala gopaalam aabaalagobaaluni (everyone watched the Little Krishna), aaradha aaradhanaageeti palikiMci (Radha sang a devotional song). It can be observed that the same word is juxtaposed with different meanings (a figure of speech in Telugu, yamakam).

He uses a lot of classical objects in fresh similes. Objects like ponnacheTTu, tyAgarAjakIrtana (Tyagaraja's song), Rutuvulu (Seasons), Raagas have all been used extensively in his songs. One such song from SundaraakanDa uses all grammatical rules of Telugu in a romantic conversation between lovers (Ex: mattuga mallelu attaru chindE vELa champakamaalalu sompulakistaavaa). These songs stand as proofs of his knowledge in various subjects.

His imagination ranges from most creative similes like bhoodari lo neelambari, maa seemake cheenambari to most vulgar comparisons like muDideeste moopuram, paruvaala gopuram. Particularly when it comes to writing more serious lyrics like those of Shankarabharanam, his imagination prowess has been proved a number of times. Here are a few examples:

  • He expresses the mind of a devotee singing in rain in these words:

merise merupulu murise pedavula chiru chiru navvulu kaabOlu, urime urumulu sari sari natanala siri siri muvvalu kaabOlu which translates to: Oh Lord Shiva, perhaps these lightnings are your smiles on seeing me sing, and these thunderbolts are the bells of your anklets while you dance in this pleasure.

  • These are the words describing a mother parts from her children, knowing that she would live for very few days:

anubandhamanTEnE appulE karigE bandhaalanni mabbulE, hEmanta raagaala chEmantulE vaaDi pOyE, tana rangu maarchindi raktamE tanatO raalEnandi paaSamE which translates to: Relations are just debts, all these relations will melt like clouds, all those colors of spring will vanish some day, your nature was changed by relation, yet it would not follow your after a point. This touches the essence of Bhagavad Gita in simple words.

  • He has described Lord Krishna in many songs, one such song is:

chandana charchita neela dEha gaganaalasogasuku gobbiLLO, usuru gaalulanu veduru paataluga, usuru gaalulanu veduru paataluga paluku vENuvuku gobbiLLO, yETi meeda yennellO, yennelanTi kannellO, kanneganTi sannallO sannajaaji ginnellO, vEdamantaa vennalaagaa karigEvELallO, vEdamantaa vennalaagaa karigEvELallO, yEgeeta maakistaavO yevvari geeta maarustaavO aaraarE. It has a heart-touching feel. We dance on seeing the sky-colored body scented with chandanam, we dance for the flute which converts purposeless breezes (ignorant humans) into melodious music (meaningful lives). When moonlight reflects on the water of Yamuna, among the gopikas who dominate the moonlight, within the sight of gOpikas, in the bushes of jasmines; When vEdas are melted like butter, only you can decide which lines (fates) to change, and which lines to teach (Bhagavad Gita)

He uses prasa (rhymes) to a very good extent. Despite that, he keeps the feel of the song simple and clear. An example among thousands is: naruDi bratuku naTana, ISvaruDi talapu ghaTana, I renTi naTTanaDuma, nIkendukinta tapana which translates to Man's life is an act, God's wish is sure to happen. Knowing this, O heart, why do you excite so much to do something

He is known for his experiments in writing lyrics. He does them quite often and in his style. One such example is using a rule from "chandassu" for the spell of a demon in his song (from Geethanjali) O baala, masajasatataga Saarduulaa. Sometimes, one needs very keen ears to understand his experiments. An example which many people would not know is: kaastandukO, dharkhaastandukO, prema dhaarakhaastandukO. In this song, each word is a part of the next word; yet they have totally different meanings; none of them is out of context.

He is known for his naughty lyrics. His fans call him chilipi vETUri for the same reason. Few examples are: nagumOmu naguma (referring to actress Nagma in her movie), gaganajhagana (in rhyme with traditional, induvadana, kundaradana, mandagamana, madhuravachana, sogasulalana). Sometimes, they tend to be obscene too. An example is: konDakOnallO mATugA, ettupallAlu teliselE.

He uses creativity for all sorts of songs ranging from an obscene song (aa anTE amalApuram) to mundane duet (Ex: pakka gentlemanni, chuTTapakkAlE lEnONNi) to a serious emotion (taarataara ki naduma aakaSam endukO) to devotional songs (Om namaSSivaaya). Every word he uses has a solid purpose.

Usually, the first verses of his songs (pallavi) are catchy and keep dancing on the listener's tongue. Many such verses/phrases are used quite frequently in even normal discussions (Ex: abbanI tiyyanI debba).

Compliments from other artists

Many music directors of Tollywood appreciate him for the fact that he writes almost any song in less than 15 minutes.

One of the most talented film directors of India, Maniratnam worked with him for a movie Geethanjali. He was all in praise for Veturi that he is one of the best lyricists he has seen.

Veturi is considered the best poet in Telugu Film Industry his competitors too. They consider him their Guru. The most notable one among them is Sirivennela Sitarama Sastry. He mentioned in one of his articles that Veturi is his inspiration. . One of his articles contained a statement like: Vamana laaga bhaashaapadanni bhuumi pai unchanu, bhaavukatha paadanni aakaSam meeda unchanu, mooDoo paadam ekkaDa peTTamanTAvu? ani aDugutunnaTlundi which translates to I could imagine him coming towards me like Vamana, filling the earth with his linguistic capabilities and sky with imagination capabilities and asking "Where should I keep my third leg?"

Veteran singer Lata Mangeshkar was impressed by his writing capabilities when they worked together for the movie "aakhariporaatam".

Criticism

Veturi faced a lot of criticism that he includes a lot of vulgarity when it comes to mass films. Examples are: "puttintollu tarimesaru...", "muDi deeste moopuram, paruvaala gopuram" etc., Many people feel that Veturi has degraded the quality of Telugu lyrics as much as he added quality work to it. However, this was done by him yielding to the pressures of directors as he himself revealed on his birthday 10th February.

Awards

National Awards

He got the National Film Award for Best Lyrics for his song in the film Matrudevobhava for the song "raalipoye puvva neeku raagalenduke". Many people feel that it has been a great injustice to such a veteran artist to give only one national award. He declared that he would return the national award if Telugu is not given the status of classic language by the Government of India.

Nandi Awards

He got Nandi award for best lyricist from the Government of Andhra Pradesh a number of times. Some of his Nandi awards include:

  1. Song: "maanasa viiNaa madhu giitam", Movie: "Pantulamma", Year: 1976
  2. Song: "ii duryOdhana duSSaasana durviniita lOkamlO", Movie: "PratighaTana", Year: 1985
  3. Song: "aakaaSaana suuryuDunDaDu sande vELakE", Movie: "Sundara kaanDa", Year:

Manaswini Awards

  1. Song: "vENuvai vacchaanu bhuvanaaniki", Movie: "MaatrudEvO bhava", Year: 1992
  2. Song: "aakaaSaana suuryuDunDaDu sande vELakE", Movie: "Sundara kaanDa", Year:

Honorary doctorate

Veturi will be presented with the honorary doctorate on August 3 in 23rd convocation by Acharya Nagarjuna University.

Filmography

He has acted in very few films in cameo roles. He acted as a fake swamiji in a film, which succeeded in producing good comedy. He also provided assistance to the writer Jandhyala for the movie Sirisirimuvva

Books

Sirikaakolanu chinnadi

This book was originally a "musical play" telecast on the All India Radio. The story describes the culture and people during the time of the king Krishna Deva Raya through the story of a prostitute . The original play has music by the great music director "Pendyala Nageswara Rao". The book may not have this music accompanied, but it has great pictures by Bapu as a compensation. One can see the beauty of Telugu language in this book.

Veturi was introduced to director K.Viswanath through this book and later their combination was a big hit. NTR was so impressed by the story of this book that he wanted to make it as a movie. There were some discussions on the script but the movie was never produced.

Komma kommakO sannaayi

A book titled "komma kommakO sannAyi" is published by "Veturi sahitii samiti". This book contains 27 articles written by Veturi celebrating his association with some famous personalities in the Telugu film industry. It also contains description of some of his songs. The personalities covered include the following:

  1. Music directors: Pendyala Nageswara Rao, Saluri Rajeswara Rao, K. V. Mahadevan, Adi Narayana Rao, Ramesh Naidu, Rajan - Nagendra, Chakravarty, Ilayaraja & A.R.Rahman
  2. Singers: S.P.Bala Subramanyam
  3. Lyricists: Daita Gopalam, Samudrala (Sr), Atreya, Dasarathi,
  4. Actors: Nagayya, Jagayya, NTR & Relangi
  5. Directors and producers: Nagi Reddy, Jandhyala, Bapu - Ramana

Many of these articles were originally published in a Telugu magazine called "Haasam". Veturi's prowess in Telugu language & literature and his vast knowledge of Carnatic music can be seen in this book. Veturi often quotes many of his own lyrics in this book and those examples offer a glimpse of his genius. In particular, his explanation to the song "Swararaaga gangaa pravaahamE" (Movie: Sarigamalu) is a master piece.

But after reading this one may feel that Veturi's prose style is not as fascinating as his poetry. A smooth rhythmic and catchy thread that runs through the fabric of his poetry is very much conspicuous by its absence in the prose for he often quotes some old-fashioned Sanskrit samasas and one liners and his way of composing telugu sentences sounds a trifle bookish and heavy.

This book is not an auto-biography of Veturi, as some people think. There were reports that he began writing his auto-biography titled "vENuvai vacchaanu".

Personal Traits

Veturi has lot of respect for his seniors. He often says Gatamantaa shrutam naadi, prastutaaniki adi punaadi (I heard (learnt) lot of things from great people in the past and I use them as my present base), which shows his humbleness. He has great respect for lyricist Atreya whom he considers as his mentor and Guru. He once even said in an interview with Gemini Television - Atreya is a much greater lyricist than me. You may find beauty of words and phrases in my lyrics, but Atreya's lyrics have "life" in them. And this comes only from real experiences and Atreya had much more "life experience" than me.

He is known to admit some of his own failings, as can been seen in his reply to a question about vulgarity in some of his songs - Pedadaari annadi okaTi undi (I agree that I walked the wrong way, at times). But he points out that he is not solely responsible for the vulgarity in his songs - I only wrote the songs. I did not create the situation and the cast. Even the songs I wrote come out after a lot of "editings" by producers, directors and actors. So I cannot claim that they are completely mine.

His relation with veteran composer Illayaraja is another instance of his dignity and friendly nature. It is well-described in his book "Komma kommakO sannaayi".

References

External links

  • Lyricist Sirivennela's article on Veturi, originally published in the magazine "Haasam" http://www.manasirivennela.com/veturi.html]
  • Srinivas Kanchibhotla's article on Veturi in Idlebrain

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