Veteran singer G. Anand, better known for songs such as “Oka venuvu vinipinchenu anuraaga geetika”, passed away after battling COVID-19 on Thursday evening (May6, 2021). He was 67.
Here are reproducing the interview that he gave us in 2010.
From the archives…
oka vENuvu vinipinchenu anuraaga geetika… (America Ammaayi, G.K. Venkatesh)
dooraana dooranaa taaraadeepam… (Maa Bangaarakka, K.V. Mahadevan)
viThalaa, viThalaa, paanDuranga viThalaa!… (Chakradhari, P. Adinarayana Rao)
puvvulanaDugu, navvulanaDugu, rivvuna saagE guvvalanaDugu… (Aame Katha, Chakravarthy)
G. Anand is the singer of all these memorable songs and more! As I was writing the America Ammaayi, I tried to locate the singer G. Anand. I already knew that he was living with his son in New Jersey, and traced him with the help of a friend, got his number and called him to do the interview. Here are the excerpts of our exclusive interview for TeluguCinema.Com viewers:
Sri: You’re popular as both ‘swaramaadhuri’ Anand and G. Anand. What’s your real name?
Anand: (Laughs) Gedala Ananda Rao is my real name, but I was more popular with the name of G. Anand. I am known as ‘swaramaadhuri’ Anand also as my troupe ‘Swara Madhuri’ performed all around the globe, amounting to a total of over 6500 performances!
Sri: How did your film debut happen?
Anand: I am from Pulagam in Srikakulam district. My father is stage drama artiste and I learned most of my music from him only. He used to feature in mythological dramas. When he played the role of Rama, my brother and I used to play the roles of Lava and Kusha on the stage. That’s when I started my singing career. I then sang at functions and festivals around my place and also started participating in the competitions and won many prizes, all at a young age. In one such competitions, the judges were none other than K.V. Mahadevan gaaru and Balasubramanyam gaaru.
Among the one hundred participants, everyone started singing all those good hits that I prepared for, making me tenser as to what I should sing! By the time I stepped up to the microphone, it seemed that all the good songs were already over! I then started off with the verse E paarijaatammuleeyagalanO sakhii… and continued with pratii raatri vasanta raatri… from the film Ekaveera. When the prizes were announcing, they first announced the second runner-up and then the runner-up and when they said “The winner is…”, the whole auditorium started yelling my name even before the announcement, and finally they did announce my name as the winner! That’s one of the most memorable moments for me. After the show was over, K.V. Mahadevan gaaru promised me to give a chance if I came to Madras. And the next day, I landed in Madras!…
Sri: Interesting, but it was not K.V. Mahadevan gaaru who gave you the chance for your first film!
Anand: I was actually supposed to sing the song vinaraa sUramma kUturi moguDaa.. song from Illu-Illaalu. Due to some issue, I missed that opportunity. Later, S.P. Kondandapani gaaru gave me my first opportunity to sing chorus in Pandanti Kaapuram.
Sri: Life in Madras should have been hard for you, since you knew no one in the filmdom!
Anand: I first stayed in the house of Late Leelaraani whom I know even before she ventured into films, when we did a lot of plays together. I found a room later, where I used to live with Medisetty Apparao and Sarath Babu.
Sri: The journey from being a chorus singer to a solo singer is not an easy task! How did that happen?
Anand: Actor Chandramohan used to celebrate festivals grandly, inviting several people from the film world. My roommate Medisetty Apparao dragged me there to sing a song in the function, so that I can showcase my talent to the film people that attend the event. When I was singing, one person who was about to go stopped and listened to the whole song, and then asked me to come to his office next day to meet him. That was Navata Krishnam Raju gaaru! I went to Navata Arts office the next day, where Krishnam Raju gaaru introduced me to G.K. Venkatesh gaaru, who after listening to my songs, promised that he’d offer me to sing.
The next day, they sent me to get lyrics from Devulapalli Krishna Sastry gaaru, and I went to the legendary poet’s house regularly, sitting through long hours for nearly a week. During this one week, he liked me voice and wrote a recommendation letter to K.V. Mahadevan gaaru. Meanwhile, the rest of the songs were almost completed for the film America Ammaayi, except the song oka vENuvu vinipinchenu… and I got worrisome that only one song remained and the rest were already recorded with Balugaaru (and one song with Ramesh). At that point, G.K. Venkatesh gaaru called me and gave me the tune for oka vENuvu vinipinchenu… and asked me practise that song.
When I listened to that song, I was disappointed that it was not a foot-tapping song and is a slow-paced number, and so I wondered if the audience would even remember this song after the release of the film! I thought it’d go unnoticed after the release but I practiced it anyway, as it would be my first solo song!
Seeing my dissatisfaction, G.K. Venaktesh gaaru took me to his house and made me listen to a song by Ghulam Ali, informed me about the raaga and its importance. I then realized how classy the song was and started practicing it with more interest. Once the recording was over, people who heard about the song started saying that a newcomer did a good job but Balu would have done a wonderful job! My heart sank listening to such comments because they might actually want to record the song with Balu gaaru again. Unable to bear the tension, I went to Venkatesh gaaru and put forth my confusion to him – asking if my song was finalized or not. He assured me and also sent the song immediately to the audio company, relieving a lot of my stress! And, the song became an all-time hit in my singing career! I will always remember that song…
Sri: So, your career changed due to America Ammaayi (smiles)?
Anand: (Laughs) America Ammaayi turned even my life! My wife Sujatha dubbed for just one film and that’s America Ammaayi . She dubbed for the herione in the film. My son is settled in America (USA) and my grand-daughter is born in America (USA) too. Thus, we now have an America Ammaayi in my own household! …I did a lot of shows here in this country, in almost all the states! You could say USA is my second home now!
Sri: You mentioned that Krishna Sasty gaaru gave a letter recommending to K.V. Mahadevan gaaru…
Anand: Yes, and because of that letter, I got another great song dooraana dooraana taaraadeepam… in the veteran’s music direction for the film Maa Bangaarakka. Then came the film Kalpana under the musical direction of Chakravarthy gaaru, and all the songs in the film were good hits, particularly dikkulu chooDaku raamayyaa, pakkane unnadi seetamma! was a decent hit. Aame Katha followed, and later Chakradhari… but yes, because of Sree Devulapalli’s letter, I got a chance to work with Mahadevan gaaru.
Sri: You entered the filmdom as a singer at a time when Balu was ruling the roost. There’s even a constant hearsay that he used to stop other singers from coming up!…
Anand: That’s a piece of crap! I can’t imagine how people even think that Balu gaaru had that much time back then to stop and think about all that! Did he stay in the Madras railway station and flag down all singers from getting down the trains or what?! There were many singers that came along: apart from me, there were Raj Seetaram, Ramakrishna, Kanna Rao, and others, but what people love the most will have the best market and thus Balu gaaru stayed! He’s definetly a versatile artiste compared to all the rest of us and he could sing to any song, unlike others who could do justice to only certain genres of songs. Balu gaaru stopping other singers is utterly baseless!
Sri: Now that you mention Ramakrishna gaaru, he had a filmy background already (as P. Susheela gaaru was his maternal aunt) and he came with a better recommendation than you did. Did it not affect your chances?
Anand: For a while, yes, it did… but I survived, right? …I established “swaramaadhuri” music troupe and toured all over the world. Most of the upcoming singers today have sung in my troupe in the past, before they got the break in the films. I am happy that didn’t just survive as a singer in the film world but that I could also encourage a lot of new talent through my troupe.
Sri: You also assisted Chakravathy gaaru…
Anand: Yes, I assisted Chakravarthy gaaru for eight years and then I got busy with the programs and couldn’t continue after that. He is a great person, and he gave me a good break with films like Kalpana, Aame Katha, and so on.
Sri: And, later you became a music director yourself!
Anand: Yes, I scored music for eight straight films in Telugu. When my once-roommate Sarath Babu produced the film Gandhinagar Rendo Veethi, I did the music for that film. I later had done music for Swatantraaniki Oopri Poyandi, Ambedkar, Rangavalli (writer J.K. Bharavi’s directorial debut), Vennela, etc. I could not taste much sucess as a music director as I have not worked for any big banners or super hit films, which are naturally factors that pronounce “success”. I worked for a lot of dubbing films from other languages to Telugu, for all of writer Rajashri’s films and later for films like Prema Paavuraalu with Vennelakanti.
Sri: What are your favorite songs among those you sung?
Anand: My favorite top ten songs would go thus:
01. oka vENuvu vinipinchenu anuraaga geetika… (America Ammaayi, Mylavarapu Gopi, G.K. Venkatesh)
02. viThalaa, viThalaa, paanDuranga viThalaa!… (Chakradhari, P. Adinarayana Rao)
03. mallela vELa, idi vennela vELa…
04. nallaanallani… (Mana Oori Paandavulu)
05. Sreemati anTE naakentO… (Shanti)
06. aanaaDu eenaaDu… (Thaayaaramma-Bangaarayya)
07. prEma bRndaavanam… (Bangaaru Kaanuka, Chakravarthy)
08. dikkulu chooDaku raamayyaa… (Kalpana, Chakravarthy)
09. puvvulanaDugu, navvulanaDugu, rivvuna saagE guvvalanaDugu… (Aame Katha, Chakravarthy)
10. prati vasanta vELallO… (Mahaa Purushudu)
Interview: Sri Atluri