Are Telugu Music Directors Losing Their Sheen?

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Telugu music directors have two problems to solve at any given time. They should compete with World composers and they should not lose local flavour as well.

For urban audiences and to capture global market, they need to be suave and trendy at the same time, for rural audiences, massy people they need to include regular mass beats as well.

Balancing an audio in accordance to these taste variations and situations in a film has always become a problem for our music directors. At peak of their abilities, some music directors proved their versatility but same lost the crowns to mee breed as they grew routine with age.

If we look at today’s scenario of music in Telugu Cinema, it appears to have no clear cut path to go ahead. Why?

* Slowness in rise of new talent

When Saluri Rajeswara Rao and Ghantasala, Pendayala were ruling the roost, ever flexible and “easy to work with” music composer KV Mahadevan came to the forefront in 60’s and continued his domination till ’75. From 75, Chakravarthy dominated the scene till ’86. Rise of Ilaiyaraja and Raj-Koti has put an end to Chakravarthy’s career by 1989. Ilaiyaraja’s domination ended with AR Rahman’s arrival but he couldn’t bring his success in Hindi, Tamil to Telugu shores successfully.

MM Keeravani, Koti dominated the market with occasional super hits by Bappi Lahari, Sri, Preetham and Sandeep Chowtha. But majority of films had either Keeravani or Koti as composers. This phase too ended with Mani Sharma’s arrival as a leading composer with Bavagaru Bagunnara and till 2006, he had no competition. Keeravani lost his touch after Annamayya, Koti lost his market to Mani Sharma and other composers became “occasional choices” when Mani was unavailable. Vandemataram Srinivas was in-between as he couldn’t completely go into “occasional choice” category or fall into “necessary”, “highly marketable” categories. If a film team chose him, he gave a good audio.

Mani Sharma until 2010 maintained his market but he completely lost his market to Devi Sri Prasad and SS Thaman at the start of this decade. Now, DSP & Thaman have become regular and the new talent like SriCharan Pakala, Vivek Sagar and Shrawan Bharadwaj are not groomed well-enough to handle big projects.

Thaman proved himself with a big hit like Kick and found hits like Ragada, Dookudu to consolidate his position. Devi Sri Prasad by 2006 delivered biggest hit albums like Anandam, Mass, Manmadhudu, Venky, Bommarillu, Arya, Bunny, Shankardada MBBS. Chakri seemed to be major competition for all of the composers from 2002-2006, but his career was always marked with tunes that resembled some old composers style or “inspirations”.

* How updated are composers today?

It seems like composers are listening to audios or singles from Western albums, artists and sticking to those instrumentations, mainly. We don’t find an unique sound of music these days and hence, makers are going back to DSP, Thaman and Mani Sharma for their localised additions.

Thaman has been able to identify his problem and make a comeback with fresh sounds but Devi Sri Prasad seems to be sticking to his age old buffet of tunes. He is facing more trolls and abuses than any other composer. If really doesn’t change himself or update, he may fast lose his market to Mani Sharma, who seems to be on a comeback spree at this moment.

Keeravani has made himself exclusive to SS Rajamouli and to projects that he may like remotely. Rise of ew talent and new sounds is a must in Telugu music scene but that innovative yet desi sound seems to have been lost somewhere in the crowd, waiting for someone to identify.




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