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Down memory lane with Kalinga Rao

EVERYONE IS quite familiar with the song "Udayavagali Namma Cheluva Kannada Nadu," (Let the beautiful Kannada Nadu arise). But not many may know that the tune for this song, written by Huligol Narayana Rao, was composed by P. Kalinga Rao.

The present generation of music lovers has hardly heard of his talents. Kalinga Rao (1914-1981) is a favourite light classical singer of the older generation.

Thanks to All India Radio, the younger generation can now enjoy the songs sung by him. The AIR released recently a prized collection of 13 light classical songs, dug out from its archives, on audio CDs and cassettes. They are priced at Rs. 195 and Rs. 95 respectively.

It is a joy to listen to the compilations in the cassette. The first on the list is "Udayaganadali Arunana Chaye," a song written by Kuvempu. This is followed by the hilarious "Hendad Tondre" (problems from alcohol). The other songs include "Nanna Hendthi," "Anathadim Digantadim," and "Shree Sharada Devi." It ends with the popular "Moodala Maneya," sung in a tune different from the more familiar one.

Utilising his expertise in classical music and stage drama, Kalinga Rao has composed tunes to the literature of leading Kannada writers such as Da. Ra. Bendre, Kuvempu, and B.P. Rajaratnam. He has also composed tunes for folk songs such as "Kunigal Kere" and "Baarayya Beladingale."

According to K. Srivatsa, a civil engineer, who has traced the career of Kalinga Rao, the latter has sung around 1000 songs of which one-third have been sung on AIR. Another notable feature of this singer was his attire. Unlike others of his ilk, he sported a suit. All his songs came in the age of "gramophone discs." This made it a hard task to preserve the records. The AIR, which has a major share of the records, has preserved around 90 songs.

In the present compilation, the AIR has taken assistance from music lover Nandishwar, who has good collection of Kalinga Rao's songs. This effort of the AIR has been complimented by Sharat P. Kalingarao, elder son of P. Kalinga Rao.

He said: "It is after two decades of my father's death that some of the light classical songs sung by him have come to light. Though the songs form a fraction of the available records, it forms a valuable treasure for me and for the coming generations."

By Raghava M

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