Telugu film industry finds better music outside

Deccan Chronicle.  | BVS Prakash

Entertainment, Music

Telugu composers have been losing out to composers from the neighbouring states. Here’s why

Anirudh Ravichandar (Instagram)

Telugu filmmakers have been hiring musicians from Malayalam, Tamil and Kannada film industries to belt out chartbusters, despite them being expensive.

While some of them have been chosen for providing refreshing tunes and background score, others have been taken in so that they can bring out soothing folk numbers to music lovers.

Leading producer Ravi Shankar Yelamanchali of Mythri Movie Makers is one such filmmaker who didn’t mind paying a fancy pay cheque to Tamil composer Anirudh Ravichandar, a distant relative of superstar Rajinikanth.

“Anirudh is one of the most happening composers in Kollywood, and we paid him what he rightly deserves because he is a true professional. He gave our movie Gang Leader a new fillip with his fabulous and innovative musical score. Particularly, his promotional video song for the film has been a chartbuster. Also, our director Vikram Kumar felt Anirudh would be apt for this niche movie and he was perfectly right,” Ravi Shankar adds.

Incidentally, Anirudh has informed the producer that he has used a part of the promotional video song for his movie with Tamil star Vijay.

Anirudh is merely one among the many non-Tollywoodians now creating tunes for Tollywood. Other composers from the neighbouring states, who have made their mark creating chartbuster music for Telugu films in the last few years, include Justin Prabhakar (for Dear Comrade), Jakes Bejoy (for Taxiwala), Hip Hop Tamizha (for Krishnarjuna Yuddham) and Chirrantan Bhat (for Kanche and Gautamiputra Satakarni).

The National-Award winning Malayalam film composer Gopi Sundar, another non-Tollywood composer listed among the most-sought-after composers in the Telugu industry, has also been making waves with his chartbusters for films such as Geeta Govindam, Ninnu Kori and Majili.

However, Gopi Sundar is glad and thankful not only because his kind of music has been accepted by producers and directors but Telugu music lovers are giving him some space in Telugu films.

“I am elated because other than a few requests for a certain type of music for some of their songs, Telugu directors have never asked me to change my style of compositions. That has been quite heart-warming for me. So while I love creating melodies here and watching it being lapped up by the masses and classes alike, I am also enjoying being allowed to explore other kinds of music. The directors here give me enough freedom. And I am using my vast experience in scoring music for varied genres in Malayalam to create melodies for Telugu too,” says Gopi, who tells us he is studying Telugu now and is hoping for more exciting projects where he can continue to retain his distinct identity.

Producer Ravi Shankar also agrees that young Malayalam composers come up with refreshing tunes that connect with new-age music lovers. “We introduced Justin Prabkahar with our movie Dear Comrade starring Vijay Devarakonda. Justin did a fabulous job with some innovative tunes and has enough potential,” he points out.

Replacing Tollywood slackers

All said and done, Ravi Shankar also assures us that despite working with composers from other states, leading production house Mythri Movie Makers will continue working with A-lister Telugu composers.

“Thaman, Devi Sri Prasad and M. M. Keeravani have all given us numerous chartbusters, and our journey will continue,” Ravi Shankar adds.

However, producer C. Kalyan, who roped in Kannada composer Chirrantan Bhat for his films such as Jai Simha and Ruler, tells us that it will be difficult for him to work with a few Telugu composers in the future.

“A few of them have become money-minded and want to talk about remuneration first, and only then about the story,” explains Kalyan.

 “And that is quite unlike the talented Chirrant Bhat, who is less interested in money and more interested about the content through which to showcase his skills. From what I have noticed, composers from other languages are passionate about their work and are even ready to work round-the-clock, if need be, until they deliver mellifluous numbers. I think they will rule the roost now as Telugu composers have become slightly lethargic.”

However, despite what seems like a trend given that five to six talents from the neighbouring states are holding sway, young Telugu composer Vivek Sagar, who proved his mettle in movies such as Falaknama Das and Ee Nagaraniki Yemaindi, remains undeterred.

“I think competition exists only in the minds of people, not in the industry. Music is such a vast industry and everyone is entitled to try their luck,” he says confidently.

“I do distinct movies that suit my sensibilities and only work with people who like my style of film scores. I don’t create demos to invite producers; rather, I wait for people to approach me on the strength of my work. These days, an 18- or 20-year-old can compose music in his room and upload it, so worrying about competition is just a waste of time. It’s better to focus on giving our best every time.”

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