Ghantasala Biography


Ghantasala Venkateswara Rao (Telugu: ఘంటసాల వెంకటేశ్వర రావు) (1922–1974) was a popular South Indian singer and music composer of Telugu films and many other languages such as Tamil, Kannada, Malayalam, Tulu and Hindi. He is the recipient of Padmashree award, the fouth highest civilian award. For nearly quarter of a century, he was the voice of Telugu films. He was Telugu cinema’s one of the first playback singer for movies.He Sang 10000 songs Approx., in Telugu, Tamil, Kannada, Malayalam, Tulu and Hindi. He Composed music for more than 100 Movies. He sang the Bhagavad Gita just before his death in 1974 which became highly popular. On Feb 11 2003, a stamp was released in honor of Sri.Ghantasala at Telugu Lalita Kala Toranam, Public Gardens, Hyderabad.

Early life
Ghantasala was born to Soorayya, who was a local singer, in a traditional Telugu Brahmin family in 1922. During his childhood, Ghantasala used to dance to his father’s Tarangams. He lost his father when he was a child, and was brought up by his maternal uncle Ryali Pitchi Ramaiah. He took formal music training from Patrayani Sitarama Sastry, also known as Saluru China Guruvu Garu, and he joined Maharajah’s Government College of Music and Dance in Vijayanagram without informing his family. He went through a number of hardships to learn music and went on to become a “Sangeeta Vidhwan”.

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Ghantasala participated in the Quit India Movement of 1942, for which he was arrested and imprisoned for 18 months at the Alipore (Allipura) Jail, Bellary[1]. After coming out of jail, he met “Senior Samudrala”, who advised him to try his luck in the film industry as a singer.[2] Upon release from prison, he got married to Savitri of Pedapulivarru. It was in this village that he met Samudrala Raghavacharya, who inducted him into the film industry in Madras and changed the course of music history.

Ghantasala got his first break as a singer from All India Radio. Later on, Peketi Siva Ram from HMV studios recorded his private songs. Ghantasala debuted as a chorus singer and for a character role in Seeta Rama Jananam by Pratibha Films. After this, he worked with famous music directors like Gali Penchala, C.R. Subbaraman. His first movie as a music director was “Laxmamma”.He became popular singer with the early films like Balaraju and Keelugurram, and later sang for most of the movies for all actors for next three decades. He introduced the technique of changing the voice pitch and diction to suit the actor singing the songs on the screen. People were so enamored by this that they started imagining the hero of the movie just by listening to him sing over the radio. P Suseela, the famous singer of the south, once quoted that it is just not simple to even attempt the songs of this great legendary singer. Veterans of the telugu film industry C Narayana Reddy, Stalwart Music directors such as Saluri Rajeswara Rao, Pendyala Nageshwara rao have rated him as the incomparable playback singer capable of singing any genre and pitch with comfortable ease. The song “Siva Sankari” from the film Jagadekaveeruni katha, sung by ghantasala and composed by Pendyala in Darbari Kannada raga with classical shades, is believed to be the difficult composition ever composed in film songs. He was considered as the master of padyam renderings, a unique genre in the telugu films.

Producer Krishnaveni gave him first chance as full music director for her film Mana Desam, which incidentally was NTR’s first film. He later composed music for many popular Telugu movies like Patala Bhairavi, Gundamma Katha, Paramanandayya Shishyula Katha, Pelli Chesi Chudu, Mayabazar and Lava kusa. He gave his voice for all the popular heroes of Telugu film industry at that time.

He also served as the Aaasthana Gaayaka (Court musician) for the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams. The famous renderings of Ghantasala Venkateswara Rao also include private albums, like Bhagawad Gita, Patriotic Songs, Padyalu (unique genre of Telugu – singing the verses in dramatic style), Pushpa Vilapam and folk songs. His private songs were equally popular and his devotional songs and many of his film songs are popular even today and remain peerless. His immortal recording “Bhagawad Gita” is considered unique and incomparable and can be heard daily in the famed Tirumala temple.

Gifted with what V.A.K.Ranga Rao called “The most majestic voice”, and he helped Telugu film music develop its own distinct character. He ruled the telugu film world for close to 3 decades without any competition, and his contribution to film playback singing remains unparalleled. Often referred to as the “Melody king & Gaana Gandharva” he has won the “best singer award” every year in the telugu film industry for entire 3 decades, a feat perhaps unachieved by any other playback singer.

He has given performances in America, England, Germany etc and had the distinction of performing in the United Nations Organisation. Andhra pradesh Government felicitated him on the occasion of 25 years of his film career as Silver Jubilee Celebrations of Ghantasala in Hyderabad on February 1, 1970. More than 30,000 people attented the function celebrated at the Lal Bahadur Stadium, Hyderabad.[3]

Quote from the Indian express on death of this great singer & musician – Tributes paid to Ghantasala Venkateswara Rao, on his death, praise his “Melodious Voice”, but these not only sound inadequate, but also fail to grasp the truth of the matter, since he was “no mere singer” but a “true poet” who could comprehend and did give expression to the deepest feelings of love, pity, joy, suffering, piety, happiness and bitterness in a manner no one else could, or did. One cannot help feeling that it would have been hardly possible for him to sing on all those varied themes with such intensity of fervor and likeness to reality, and precision in apprehension, had he not himself lived and experienced these basic emotions inwardly, in as great a manner as any of the great poets ever had. This naturally gave an indication of the purity and richness of his heart and mind.

Playback singer and music director
1. Alibaba 40 Dongalu, 1970
2. Thalli Thandrulu, 1970
3. Rahasyam, 1967
4. Paramanandayya Shishyula Katha, 1966
5. C.I.D., 1965
6. Gudi Gantalu, 1965
7. Pandava Vanavasam, 1965
8. Lavakusa, 1963
9. Raktha Sambandham, 1962
10. Gundamma Katha, 1962
11. Sati Sulochana, 1961
12. Sabash Raja, 1961
13. Bhakta Raghunath, 1960
14. Deepavali, 1960
15. Shantinivasam, 1960
16. Pelli Sandadi, 1959
17. Sabhash Ramudu 1959
18. Manchi Manasuku Manchi Rojulu, 1958
19. Pelli Naati Pramanalu, 1958
20. Mayabazar, 1957
21. Bhale Bava, 1957
22. Sarangadhara, 1957)
23. Vinayaka Chaviti, 1957
24. Chiranjeevulu, 1956
25. Jayam Manade, 1956
26. Kanakatara, 1956
27. Kanyasulkam, 1955
28. Vadina Gari Gajulu, 1955
29. Chandraharam, 1954
30. Bratuku Theruvu, 1953
31. Palletooru, 1952
32. Pelli Chesi Choodu, 1952
33. Patala Bhairavi, 1951
34. Nirdoshi, 1951
35. Shavukaru, 1950
36. Vali Sugriva, 1950
37. Mana Desam, 1949
38. Keelugurram, 1949

Playback singer
* Devadasu
* Badi Panthulu (1972)
* Kanyasulkam
* Donga Ramudu
* Bandhavyalu (1968)
* Thodi Kodallu
* Dr. Chakravarthi
* Iddaru Mitrulu
* Appu Chesi Pappu Koodu
* Illarikam (1959)
* Sri Venkateswara Mahatyam (1960)
* Jagadeka Veeruni Katha (1961)
* Jayabheri
* Mooga
* Sri Simhachala Kshetra Mahima (1965)
* Manchi Manasulu
* Bhakta Jayadeva
* Mahakavi Kalidasu
* Bhakta Tukaram
* Panduranga Mahatyam
* Bhishma (1962)
* Aradhana (1962)
* Devatha (1964)
* Manchi Kutumbam (1965)
* Atmabalam
* Jeevitha Chakram (1971)
* Prem Nagar (1971)
* Bangaru Babu

Private albums
* Pushpa Vilapam
* Patriotic Songs
* Bhagawad Gita
* Devotional Songs

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