“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.

Composition Extraordinaire & Voice Immortal Series

“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)

Released on May 19, 1957, Suvarna Sundari was a runaway hit at the box office. Much of  its success can be traced to the film’s haunting melodies scored by producer-music director Penapatruni Adi Narayana Rao. 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 ‘folklore” theme. They commissioned the veteran storyteller Vempati Sadashiva Brahmam to elaborate on a short story written by the composer Adi Narayana Rao himself. A consummate and adept story teller he was, Sadashiva Brahmam came up with a long movie (3hours) movie version. Malladi Ramakrishna Sastry was engaged to write captivating & gripping dialogues. Veteran Vedantam Raghavaiah was hired 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 movie was shot at Venus Studios (formerly Shobanachala 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) in the Court of Lord Indra (who curses her) with its usual twists and a fairy tale 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 lyrics. 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 (Gramaphone Version). Unsatisfied, Adi Narayana Rao recorded the song again with P. Susheela’s voice, which was finally retained in the movie version.

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 Raga “Sindhu Bhairavi”, this six minute plus composition is truly a masterpeice from the genius with P Susheela’s vocals & tonal perfection adding “unadulterated divinity” to it – call it the endurance of “shudh sangeet”.  Adi Narayana Rao was never afraid to experiment, innovate and push the boundaries of convention in the realm of Carnatic music. P Susheela sings it with immense verve and mastery & brings to this composition a sense of transgression. Her interpretation of the Raga Sindhu Bhairavi defines her unusual voice, her pure classicism and absolute distaste for gimmickry. Susheelaji  brought a unique interpretation and freshness to this piece – her flawless rendition had a spontaneous & emotional quality to it – call it Dionysiac if you will!


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