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Annamayya keerthanas are everything to him

J. R. Shridharan

Garimella Balakrishna Prasad has composed tunes to more than 500 songs of the saint



G. Balakrishna Prasad .

VIJAYAWADA: His only passion is to sing the keerthanas of Saint Tallapaka Annamayacharya. His singular motive is to take the precious songs of the great saint into people and make them popular. He has been doing it sincerely for more than 28 years now.

Meet Garimella Balakrishna Prasad, the 58-year-old diploma holder of Carnatic music and a graded artiste of All India Radio, who has been involved in the prestigious Annamacharya Project of the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) for about 25 years.

During this period, he has composed tunes to more than 500 songs of the saint.

Effort bears fruit

"The efforts of the TTD are bearing results, as a good number of people are reciting the keerthanas with devotion. The songs are also reverberating in the corridors of many temples within the country and abroad," Mr. Prasad said with a sense of satisfaction, here on Sunday.

Talking to The Hindu during his visit to the city to perform in a programme organised by the Ganapathi Bhaktha Brundam, Mr. Prasad said that the project had inspired even Tollywood to venture in to making the film based on the great saint. "The success of the film `Annamayya' can be attributed to the pioneering work done by the all those committed musicians who were involved in the project for many decades," he felt.

Over 100 ragas used

Mr. Prasad composed tunes to famous keerthanas such as "Vinaro Bhagyamu Vishnukatha... " "Jagadapu Chanuvula... " and "Pidikedu Thalambralu... " which became popular among the devotees.

"I have used over 100 ragas in my compositions along with some new ragas such as `Sundara Ranjani' and `Sanjeevi'," he pointed out. Though the saint had composed over 32,000 songs, only around 14,000 songs were now available on copper plates.

Mr. Prasad said stalwarts like Balantrapu Rajanikantha Rao, Mallik, Mangalampalli Balamurali Krishna, Manchala Jagannadha Rao and Nallan Chakravarthula Tirumalacharya were the noted musicians who took up the noble task of popularising the work of the great saint.

"Great musicians like Nedunuri Krishanmurthy, D. Pasupathi and others joined later," he said.

Rewarding experience

For his committed service, Mr. Prasad, who is a close relative of playback singer S. Janaki, bagged many awards, prominent among them being `Annamacharya Sankeerthana Mahathi' conferred by the TTD and `Annamaya Naada Jyothi' by Sri Venkateswara Annamacharya Society of America (SVASA), based at California.

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