“Andha Chandala Gani” – Anarkali (1955) – Telugu Feature Film

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Faded Into Oblivion Series by Vicky Iyengar is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.


“Andha Chandhala Gani” (Anarkali – 1955), Voice: P Susheela & Composed by Penupathruni Adinarayana Rao (P Adi Narayana Rao)

The Seduction Begins & P Susheela’s Courtesan Vocal Art


Anarkali (Produced by Anjali Pictures) is a 1955 Telugu romance film based on the love story between Prince Salim and Anarkali courtesan in Moghul emperor, Akbar. Anjali Devi as Anarkali, ANR as Salim, S.V. Rangarao (Akbar), Kannamba (Jodhabai) and Nagaiah (Raja Mansingh) gave dignified portrayals. Surabhi Balasaraswati played Gulnar. The film was directed by veteran Vedantam Raghavaiah. The movie was a box office success.

Penupatruni Adinarayana Rao (1915–1991), also known as P. Adinarayana Rao was a Telugu music director, film producer, lyricist and play writer. He and noted Film Actor S. V. Ranga Rao, made their debut into the film industry with the film “Varudhini” in 1946. Adinarayana Rao wrote lyrics and composed music for two songs in that film. He wrote lyrics and composed music for two more films. Then a huge break came with the film Gollabhama (1947) directed by Chittajallu Pullaiah, in which his wife Anjali Devi made her debut. With film “Palleturi Pilla” (1950) he became a well-known and full-fledged musical director in the Telugu film industry. He was versatile in composing music, writing lyrics and stories for films, and producing movies in Telugu, Tamil, Marathi, and Hindi under ‘Anjali Pictures’. Later day Composers like Satyam, T V Raju and Lakshmikant Pyarelal worked under him as Assistants.

The highlight of the movie was its music by Adinarayana Rao apart from the cast and excellent technical crew. He scored 10 songs for the movie that includes “Andha Chaandala Gani” (P Susheela), “Jeevitame Saphalamu (Jikki) – Yeh Zindagi Usiki, “Kalise Nelaraju (Jikki/Ghantasala), “Nanu Kanugonuma” (Jikki), “Rajashekara Nee Pai” (Jikki/Ghantasala), “Ninugana Sambharana” (Jikki), “Prema Janga” (Jikki), “Anandame” (Jikki), “Ravoyi Sakha” (Jikki). Except “Ravoyi Sakha” and “Jeevitame” which were borrowed from Chitalkar Ramachandra, the rest were all Maestro’s original compositions.

One of Susheela’s early repertoire from the 50s, “Andha Chadhala Gani” (for actress Surabhi Balasaraswathi potraying a character of “tawaif”) demonstrated her upscale vocal refinement & gentility in capturing the pir·ou·ette “mujra” genre (usually thumris & ghazals).  Penupathrani with his unpretentious simple orchestration, was able to extract a gem from her – especially the ease of glide to higher octaves,  immaculate note anchorage.

A technically demanding track, particularly the spontaneity of the music making (percussion section) and Susheela’s ability to capture the declamatory nature of much older native style ethno regional-based music,  suits her perfectly. Again her manner of conveying the meaning of the words especially when singing in Telugu is simply unrivalled in this situation. “Kulasala Sarasala Kuripinchura Kushiga Vilasala” and the “Alaap” entering into “Andha Chandhala Gani Aaadharinchu” the spontaneity, the sheer magic of the moment – it is delectation from start to finish. “Andhala Anandam Andhuko Na Raja” – the recitation feels like very intimate – something to be desired.

In the first lyrical phrase (charanam) – “Rangaru Singaramula Rasaleela..Kongaru Sangeethamula..Natyala Bala” entering into “Chengu Chengani” phrase, experience the required tenderness and gracefulness without overdoing it – call this the “Science of Playback”. That’s her hallmark. Enough Said.

Susheelamma has the ability to support the longest of phrases (especially the Virutham portions) on the back of a single breath all while varying the tone color, mood, equilibrium and dynamic level. Singing seems as effortless as breathing while capturing the drama and mood. In second lyrical phrase “Ranga Rangeliga Lalimpara….Kongu Bangaaruga”, her impressive vocal range – obviously possesses an extraordinarily flexible vocal instrument, an incredibly rich tone and a fluidly high range required of a Soprano.

Opera Legend, Maria Callas once said “It is not enough to have a beautiful voice. First, you must learn the music exactly as written, note for note. Then you must take the music and your voice and set to work on every phrase as if a new voice was required for each role”. How true a statement.

Susheela’s great gift was her ability to change her vocal color and rendition style to suit not only certain regional music be it Marathi, Oriya, Malayalam or Tulu but to get under the skin of the individual characters that is being portrayed in the celluloid. And this characteristic is amply evident here. Don’t miss out on this piece. Try once, at least.  You won’t regret.

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