Folk songs are his forte
Perseverance in the face of adversities made Jaladi a successful lyricist
PHOTO: C.V. SUBRAHMANYAM
"Yathamesi thodina yeru yendadu, pogili pogili yeddchina... " The song continues to haunt music lovers more than 25 years after it was written. A highly popular song in the late 1970s and 1980s, it was penned by the popular film lyricist, Jaladi. It portrays the travails in the life of women. Jaladi's name became synonymous with the film and he was subsequently referred to as `Pranam Karidu' Jaladi.
The song was the highlight of the film that incidentally was megastar Chiranjeevi's second film but was released before his first one. Jaladi also wrote two duets for Chiranjeevi's first film `Punadhirallu'.
Born on August 9, 1932, Jaladi Raja Rao is the fourth son of the late Jaladi Emmanuel, a member of the Krishna District Board. His father had participated in the freedom struggle and courted arrest on quite a few occasions by opposing the British rule. Jaladi followed in the footsteps of his father when he was 13 years old. He used to disguise himself as a beggar and pass on information and letters to the underground nationalist leaders like Somuri Venkataramaiah, Paki Seetharamaiah and Duggirala Gopalakrishnaiah.
A rebel right from his childhood, he attributes the circumstances in his life which made him a film lyricist.
While all his brothers were born with a fair complexion like that of their mother, he was born dark like his father. At the time of his birth, doctors advised his mother against breastfeeding him as it was detrimental to her health. "My mother believed that I was responsible for her ill health and did not even allow me to sit on her lap.
I missed my mother's love which I can never forget all my life," he says. The second incident that made him take up life as a challenge was when his brothers dubbed him as a "good for nothing fellow" and more so when his eldest brother said: "You cannot do anything worthwhile except cashing in on the name of our great father."
He understood the double standards in the film industry when his song `Seethalu singaram... ' (Seethamahalakshmi) which was chosen for the `best lyric' award was later given a `special award' by removing the `best award' category.
He passed his SSLC with special Telugu.
A gold medallist in drawing, he started his career as a drawing teacher in the District Board School in Krishna district. He worked in various districts, which helped him know the slang used in different areas of the State. He resigned his job during his stint at Veeraghattam (then in Srikakulam district) in 1968 and went back to his hometown, Gudivada.
He used to spend most of his time with friends and used to go home only once or twice a week. This earned the wrath of his brothers and they belittled him. He left home and joined some of his friends who had settled in different businesses in Gudivada. They sent him to Madras to try his luck as a lyricist in films and tried to use their influence with film directors and actors. But the words of his eldest brother continued to ring in his ears, and he decided to enter films on his own merit but not to seek any recommendation.
His first song, `situkku, situkku... ", from the film `Palle Seema' which was a double entendre folk song comparing the contours of a woman's body with nature was hailed as a `never before in folk song history'. It was a runaway success. Director Vijaya Nirmala asked him to write a situational song for her film, `Devude Gelichadu' which was to be his second song. A woman who was deeply in love with a youth dies before she could marry him. He wrote: "Ee kaalam padi kaalalu bathakalani... " but it failed to catch the attention of the director. "I was worried that after the astounding success of my first song, will it be the end of my career in the industry. I decided to take up it as a challenge. Finally Vijaya Nirmala's husband, superstar Krishna, happened to hear it and came to my rescue."
The song became a mega hit and there was no looking back for him. He wrote over 1,500 songs for 275 films and continues to write even today.C. Subba Rao of Nagaram College in Guntur had done a Ph.D. on the lyrics used in `Yethamesi thodina... '
His third daughter, Vijaya Kumari, is doing a Ph.D. on his songs
Jaladi wrote several plays and playlets highlighting various socio-economic problems. He got the best writer award from the Vijayawada Cultural Association for his play, `Karu Meghalu' in 1957. He penned over 1,000 poems on various themes. He was felicitated by various associations and organisations and has a number of awards to his credit which include the Twin Cities Cultural Award and the Hyderabad Film Fare Award in 1970, the Kalasagar Award (Madras) and the Cine Herald Award (Hyderabad) in 1987 and the Nandi Award of the Government of AP in 1990. He was given the title `Navarasa Kavi Samrat' by the Prabhu Chitra Arts Association of Eluru in 1991, the title `Kalasagar' for the song `Punya bhoomi naa desam namonamami' in the film `Major Chandrakanth'.
He served as a member of the AP Film, TV (Nandi) Awards Committee for 1990-91 and 1994-95. He was nominated to the Executive Council of Sri Potti Sreeramulu Telugu University, Hyderabad, in 1997 and continues to hold the post. He is proud to prove the words of his brothers wrong that he had to use his father's name and fame to survive in life. Long after he became a popular writer, he told his eldest brother, "I killed Raja Rao and retained Jaladi to keep the family flag flying forever."
B. MADHU GOPAL
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