“Jagadeeshwara Pahi” – Suvarna Sundari (1957) – Telugu Feature Film

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Composition Extraordinaire Series by Vicky Iyengar is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

“Jagadeeshwara Pahi – జగదీశ్వర పాహి “- Suvarna Sundari (సువర్ణ సుందరి 1957) – Raga: Sindhu Bhairavi (సింధు భైరవి ) – Voice: P Susheela ( పులపాక సుశీల) – Composer: P Adi Narayana Rao (ప అది నారాయణా రావు) – Directed By: Vedantam Raghavaiah ( వేదాంతం రాఘవయ్య)

The southern cinematic landscape looked drastically different in the late 50s. Voila, released on May 19, 1957, Suvarna Sundari was a runaway hit at the box office. Much of  its inordinate success can be traced to the film’s soul stirring melodies scored by producer-music director Penapatruni Adi Narayana Rao – a tour de force, reminded every one, of the formidable pleasures of cinema. He won the Best Music Director Award from the All India Music Critics Association (AIMCA) for the Original Score. He was the second from the southern celluloid to bag the award, the other one being Saluri Rajeswara Rao for the Gemini magnum-opus “Chandralekha” (1948). The then Chief Minster of Andhra Pradesh Sri. Sanjeeva Reddy (who later on became the President of India) was the Chief guest at the 100th day Celebrations of the  movie’s blockbuster.

With hits such as “Paradesi (1952) & Anarkali (1955) behind them, Anjali Pictures (owned by Anjali Devi & Adi Narayana Rao) decided to launch a movie with a mythology theme. They enlisted the veteran raconteur Vempati Sadashiva Brahmam to lengthen on a short parable penned by the composer Adi Narayana Rao. A consummate and nifty yarn spinner he was, Sadashiva Brahmam came up with a extended movie version. Malladi Ramakrishna Sastry was commissioned to write captivating & riveting script. Veteran Vedantam Raghavaiah was recruited to direct the flick and was ably assisted by M.A. Rahman (Cinematography), N.S. Prakasam (Editing), Vaali (Art), V.P. Balaram (Stunt Sequences), J Suryanarayana (Sound) and Vempati Sathyam (Choreography). The motion picture  was shot at Venus Studios (formerly Shobanachala owned by Raja of Mirzapur where Anjali Devi became an screen icon with her debut movie “Gollabhama”).

The star cast included A. Nageswara Rao (ANR), Anjali Devi, Girija, Suryakala, Relangi Venkatramiah, C.S.R. Anjaneyulu, Gummadi Venkateswara Rao, Ramana Reddy & Balakrishna. The story was about a Prince (ANR) falling in love with a celestial dancer (Anjali Devi) with its usual torsion and a marchen ending.  Adinarayana Rao was assisted by T.V. Raju and Sathyam (who graduated to become most sought after composers). Kosaraju, Samudrala Raghavacharya and his son Samudrala Ramanujacharya wrote the libretto.  Some of the immortal melodies include – “Bangaru Vannela”(P Leela), “Haayi Haayiga” (Ghantasala, Jikki), ‘Jagadeeswara Paahi”, “ Piluvakura Alugakuraa” (in Raga Hindolam), ‘ Nee Needalona”, “Bommalamma Bommalu”, “Sambo Naa Mora” (P. Susheela) and ‘ Raare Vasanthudu” (A.P. Komala). The song showcased – “Jagadeeswara Paahi” was originally recorded by Jikki Krishnaveni (vinyl version). Disillusioned, Adi Narayana Rao recorded the song again with P. Susheela’s sibylline voice, which was finally preserved in the movie version.

Libretto: Samudra Raghavacharya
కోరస్ : ఓఓఓ ఓం నమశ్శివాయ: ఓం
జగదీశ్వరా – పాహి పరమేశ్వరా
దేవా పురసంహరా – ధీరా నటశేఖరా
త్రాహి కరుణాకరా – పాహి సురశేఖరా
కోరస్ : ఆఆఆ “జగదీశ్వరా”
శంభో హరా – వినుత – లంబోదరా – అంబావరా కావరా
కోరస్ : ఆఆఆ
వరమీయగా గౌరి వర సుందరా గౌరివర సుందరా
కోరస్ : నిన్నేకని మేము కొలిచేము గంగాధరా
దేవ గంగాధరా ఆఆ “జగదీశ్వరా”
ప్రమధులు పాడా ఫణిగణమాడా – పార్వతి సయ్యాడా
మౌని వరుల్ నిను మనసారా – గని పారవశంబున కొనియాడ
కోరస్ : ఓఓఓఓ
ధిమిత ధిమిత ధిమితైతై తయని – తాండవమాడిన పాదమే
కోరస్ : మధురాతి మధుర శృతి గీతమే
ధిమిత ధిమిత ధిమితైతై తయని – తాండవమాడిన పాదమే
కోరస్ : మదిసేవించిన సమ్మోదమే
జగంబులా ఏకికా శివకామ సుందరి నాయకా “జగంబు”
కోరస్ : ఓఓఓఓ ప్రమధులు

The Hindi version of the song – “Girija Sang Hai Sheesh” was rendered by Lata Mangeshkar. The film was dubbed in Hindi as “Suvarna Sundari” and simultaneously remade in Tamil as “Manalane Mangaiyin Bhagyam”. Both met with box office success.

Beautifully choreographed & tuned in Carnatic raga “Sindhu Bhairavi”, this six minute plus seraphic composition is truly a piece de resistance from Rao, with P Susheela’s vocals & tonal perfection adding “unadulterated divinity” to it – the endurance of “shudh sangeet”.  Adi Narayana Rao was never afraid to experiment, innovate and push the boundaries of cannon in the realm of Carnatic music.

P Susheela sings it with immense verve (tonal range conveying the true essence) and play-back know-how & brings to this composition a sense of transgression – a road map to the divine. The interpretation of the Carnatic raga Sindhu Bhairavi defines her unusual richly embroidered voice, her pure classicism and absolute distaste for gimmickry.  Susheela  brought a unique exegesis and vivacity to this piece – her exemplary rendition had a spontaneous & impetuous quality to it – call it dionysiac if you will!

Susheela always lent rich enchantment to her solo repertoire. Listen to the phrase “lambhodhara ambavarasagara” – where she employs her soothing  word-painting technique for unwavering devotion.  She vocalizes, extolling the virtues of the deity assisted by the chorus sections, the ecclesiastical grandeur of the scenario – a spontaneous impressionistic divinity!

A sublimely crafted song, poignant lyrics paired with towering music, sung with such brilliance & grace by Susheela!


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