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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Interview with Young Lyricist Anantha Sriram

Full Name : Chegondi Anantha Sriram
Date of Birth : 8।4.'84
Parents : Sri C।V.V. Satyanarayana Murthy & Smt. C. Uma Rani
Native Place : Doddipatla, West Godavari District
Education : Schooling in Doddipatla, Intermediate in Vijayawada, Engineering in Bapatla (dropout)
Literary Interests : Writing lyrics, Reading good books and articles, Interest towards ancient Indian culture and heritage
Pastime Activities : Composing and singing own lyrics, Watching cricket
Favorite Writers : sirivennela Seetarama Sastry, Jandhyala Papayya Sastry (KarunaSree) Favorite Celebrities : Sania Mirza, A।R। Rahman, A।P.J. Abdul Kalam, Chiranjeevi, Late Soundarya


How did you start your trials in movies? What/Who was the motivating factor? Anantha Sriram:My childhood friends used to tell me that my songs would suit for films। When I was in my X grade or so, even I became crazy about movies slowly, and was wishing that I'd enter the field, but never made any trials as such. Yeah, there were not really any trials indeed! Sathyam gaaru (music director for Kaadante Aunanile...) luckily chose me as a lyricist for his movie and here I am. Later, I met Addala Chanti gaaru through my uncle Sree M.P. Sree Chegondi Hari Ramajogaiah and got a chance to prove myself there too. ...My father is interested in Telugu literature, and it was his interest that I acquired, and his guidelines helped me write lyrics in the first place. Also, my uncles P.V.V.S. Murthy gaaru, Ramajogaiah gaaru, etc. also encouraged me a lot, also making critical comments about my writings.

At this young age, how did you think you'd fit into the film industry as a writer? I can't think of any other technical crew person who was so popular at this age in Telugu Cinema, except probably music director DeviSri Prasad (not considering child singers)...

Anantha Sriram: I definitely feel lucky to get this opportunity at this age। Most of today's technicians who got recognition at a late age would have realized and honed their talents at their young age itself, but they were probably not as lucky as I was। Thus, it's just pure luck that worked in my case.

How is the industry treating you? What kind of encouragement are you getting from the bigwigs?

Anantha Sriram: Like you say, I am still a youngster, and thus I am getting a loving and affectionate encouragement in the industry.
You stepped in the industry in 2005, and you worked for about 30 movies and about 60 songs since then। How do you feel after being in the field for a while? What do you think about your pace?

Anantha Sriram: I had a craze to enter the field before I was here. I now feel that I have more responsibility. I think I moved from a "struggle zone" to a "comfort zone" now, with some super hit songs to my credit, such as appuDO ippuDO eppuDO... ( Bommarillu), paraarE paraarE... ( Stalin), and even from the latest Yamadonga - songs like Rubber-u gaajulu..., noonoogu meesaalODu..., and Young yama...
When you entered the filmdom, some people even called you Jr। sirivennela! What's your comment on that? Do people still call you so?

Anantha Sriram: It's my fortune that people compare me with such a towering personality of lyrics! It was only due to people's liking towards my lyrics, I believe - I do not personally think I have reached any close to such great heights!

What kind of songs do you generally want to write? Have you been getting such songs?

Anantha Sriram:The answer for this question changes every three months, I should say. If I had been writing mass-oriented numbers frequently for a while, my mood shifts and I feel like penning soft melodies, love songs, or pathos numbers, or it could be the other way round। Personally, I like all kinds of songs. Having got considerable number of single-card opportunities, and having written 2-3 songs in some other movies, I had a chance to write nearly all kinds of songs. All I now wish is that some kinds of songs are already hits, and I wish the other kinds of songs also become equally popular!

What's your stand on writing songs with double-entendre? Were you forced to write such songs?

Anantha Sriram:I am never forced to write any such songs। Sometimes, after the director explains the scene, I might feel that the situation demands a liberal sprinkle of romantic ( SRngaaram) expressions, and I'd then write it accordingly.

Do you read reviews of your lyrics? What is the feedback generally like?

Anantha Sriram: I do read, yes. I take negative remarks constructively to make myself better. Or, I tend to write more enthusiastically and energetically when I get a compliment. However, some reviews seem half-baked sometimes... that the lyrics were not concentrated upon। I don't take such reviews into consideration।

In general, did you feel that any of your lyrics were not properly recognized?Anantha Sriram: I don't really mean to complain here... but there's one song that I can think of right now। The song I say enjoy! I am your fun toy!( Okkadunnadu) was an experiment of sorts, where I not only mixed English words and Telugu words but I also mixed exclusive sentences from both languages. I was a little disappointed about it.

Was there any feedback from senior/established lyricists in the industry? Anantha Sriram: Yeah, I met Seetarama Sastry gaaru once। He listened to one of my songs, analyzed it and showed me the positives and negatives of it, and helped me make a more matured writer. I earnestly thank him for all his advice.

What's the best compliment and what's the worst complaint you got about your lyrics, and from whom?

Anantha Sriram: My brother-in-law Mr। A.L.N. Swamy once said that I cannot write a better song than appuDO ippuDO eppuDO... (Bommarillu) in my lifetime. I think that was the best as well as the worst feedback I ever got till date!

You sing so well... do you also want to try your voice in movies?

Anantha Sriram: Sailing on two boats is always dangerous! (" renDu paDavala meeda kaalu eppaTikainaa pramaadamE kadanDii!" in a typical Godavari districts' slang.)

How were you chosen for Andarivadu and then Stalin too? Particularly for the latter, you also wrote the introduction song on the hero!

Anantha Sriram: Chiranjeevi gaaru was kind enough to choose me for Andarivadu after he heard the songs I wrote for my debut movie Kadante Aunanile। He felt that I did a decent job with the song paDuchu bangaaramaa... that I wrote for the movie, and the megastar believed in my talent enough to give me the introduction song and two more numbers in Stalin.

By the way, which do you consider as your debut movie - Kadante Aunanile (first audio release), or Andarivadu (first movie release)?

Anantha Sriram: As a lyricist, it's only fair that I consider as a mark of my debut the songs that were first released...

What kind of environment do you prefer to write a song?

Anantha Sriram: A pollution-less, traffic-free, far-from-the-city kind of environment is as peaceful as it can be for my moods, probably because I had experienced the best of such environs in my native place, on the banks of Godavari। For Yamadonga recently, I had the great opportunity of writing lyrics in scenic locations such as Thalakona forest and Araku valley. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

Do you always write to tunes? Or do you get a chance to give lyrics to music directors? Which do you prefer?

Anantha Sriram: I have been writing to tunes given to me, 95 % of the time. However, as I get a chance to work with creative and talented music directors like Keeravani gaaru, I sometimes get a chance to pen the lyric first। Personally, I prefer writing to tune when I am to come out with mass-oriented masala songs and general commercial duets, and I'd prefer writing the lyric first for situational songs.

How was the Yamadonga experience, particularly in this context?

Anantha Sriram: It was a different experience indeed! Keeravani gaaru and I used to sit together and each one comes up with one's own composition - I mean, I write a lyric and he composes a tune - and the best of either creation is chosen, and the song is further developed on the same lines। So, it's tough to answer if I wrote any particular song to tune for Yamadonga. It was always some of this and some of that.

How many versions did you generally have to write for each song? Was there a song, or situation, that tested your severely?

Anantha Sriram: I do not have a problem to write any number of versions. However, I wish that I always have clear information of what I need to portray in a song.

Do you participate in story sittings and/or music sittings? Did you any time suggest tune to your own lyrics and was it used as is?

Anantha Sriram: I don't remember any of such kind। And, of course, I'd need to know the entire story if I am writing all songs in a movie - if I am the single-card lyricist, that is.

Non-Telugu singers (and music directors) have been ruling the roost in Telugu film music, particularly in the recent past। Do you, as a lyricist, attend recording sessions to ensure proper pronunciation by these people?

Anantha Sriram: If it's non-Telugu singers and/or music directors, I try my best to attend the recording, yes! There'd sometimes be others too, to tell them the right pronunciation।

By the way, the movie Satyam goes around a lyricist who works as a ghostwriter for a person with a big name in the field. In this connection, it was also heard that ghostwriting (one writer getting credit for another writer's work) is not a common phenomenon in Telugu film industry। What do you think? Any experiences in this regard?

Anantha Sriram: Hmm... in the early days of career, I was asked to write parts of songs that were written by someone else. I did finish some incomplete songs this way... these songs never had my name to them. Such things might be possible in early days of a lyricist's career. I don't know... I can't complain that it happened to me a lot of times. No, it didn't.

Which particular song of yours satisfied you the most?

Anantha Sriram: I'd choose " paraarE, paraarE..." (Stalin) as my most satisfying performance till date.

Balu, Shankar Mahadevan, Hariharan, Udit Narayan, Mallikarjun, DeviSri Prasad, Keeravani, hero Siddharth, Chitra, Suneetha, Shreya Ghosal, Sadhana Sargam, Malathi ...nearly every popular singer has sung your lyrics! In Yamadonga recently, Daler Mehndi made his Telugu debut through your lyric। And now, one of India's playback legends, Asha Bhonsle, is singing your song in Krissnavamsi's Chandamama! How do you feel about it?

Anantha Sriram: I am trying to find words to express this joy of mine... I'd fall short of expressing all of it how much ever I might try! And, about my lyric being sung by Asha Bhonsle ...it's like this: Even a bead of glass in the midst of diamonds shines like diamond itself! With diamonds like K.M. Radhakrishnan, Asha Bhonsle, and Krissnavamsi, my lyric is bound to shine!

DeviSri Prasad praised you in audio release events several times, Mani Sarma used you for several songs of his, and now Keeravani speaks a lot about you! How can you really satisfy all such top music directors with your lyrics?

Anantha Sriram: I only try to get the best justification to the exact given tune। I think that's where their satisfaction stems from. I am thankful to all of them.

You worked with top notch music directors like I just told about, and you worked with less known ones like Rohit Raj ( Photo) or Bheri Umamahesh ( Jajimalli)। How was their working style different? And, was your style of working with each one different too?

Anantha Sriram: The range of each music director might differ, but all those composers I worked with were good musicians first and music directors next. Thus, there was always something in each of them for me to learn from.

Did any of the movie that you wrote for fail to see light? Do you feel your effort is wasted in such cases? (I can remember A।R। Rahman's project A॥aa for which you wrote one song।)

Anantha Sriram: It was my ambition to work with the legend A.R. Rahman. This goal was fulfilled with my working for the dubbed movie A..aa. Having said that, I was a little disappointed that even the audio of the Telugu version did not see the market. Similar was an experience for a movie with Ilayaraja gaaru (for director Teja gaaru) - the movie was scrapped after the work for one song was completed. I was elated to have worked with such legendary music directors though! ...I also worked for a movie in the combination of director Rasool Ellore gaaru and music director Anoop gaaru, and that was dropped too... It happens sometimes, but I think it was not too frequent an occurrence for me.

What other projects are you currently working for? How many are in the pipeline?

Anantha Sriram: I have written for Krissnavamsi's Chandamama like you mentioned, and have written all songs for Rasool Ellore's project. Other films that I am working for right now include Karunakaran's Ullaasamgaa... Utsaahamgaa...!, M.S. Arts' Arundhati, Mega Supergood Films' project with Tarun, Mullapudi Vara's film Pelli Kaani Prasad, etc. ...and I am working on two other projects with big heroes, and it's too early to disclose more details.


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