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A man of all seasons - Veturi - 2
Srinivas Kanchibhotla

continued from part 1

anagala raagamayi toluta veenulalarinchi
analaeni raagamayi maralaa vinpinchee marulae kuripinchi

Probably no other couplet comes close to self-describing his own prowess as the above that Veturi penned for 'Saptapadi'. Simplicity and profundity took turns alternating their appearances. While being as plain and approachable as a crystal clear lake on a bright sunny afternoon, the depth of his lyrics would become apparent as one starts to wade in. This duality of his penmanship is a case of wonderment and frustration for the purists, on and off, when he donned different hats to suit the purpose. But in the hands of the stern taskmaster K.Viswanadh, Veturi showed what his pen was capable of in intent and content, given the right context.

palakamanna palakadee panchadaara chilakaa
kulukae singaaramaina kona siggula molaka
eda kannaa lOtugaa padimlamgaa daachukO
nidurinchae pedavilO padamundee pADukO ||andaaniki andam ee puttaDi bomma||

For all the potential that Viswanadh provided in his situations - social, moral, ethical, mythological - a vitual goldmine that could be exploited to the fullest by any poet of reasonable repute to showcase his skill, mastery and command over the language, stuffing the lyric with complex expressions, deep thoughts and abstract ideas, Veturi merely chose simplicity, following the paradoxical adage, complex is simple, simple take twice the effort. It is this simplicity in his lyrics, even to the most complex of contexts - untouchability, nature of life, purpose of music and many such - that endeared him to purists and common folk alike. To sample

ae kulamoo needanTae gOkulamoo navvindee
maadhavuDu yaadavuDoo maa kulamae lemmandi

evarikevaru ee lOkamlO evariki eruka
ae daareTu pOtundO evarinee aDagaka

adwaita siddhiki amartwa labdiki gAnamae sOpAnamu
satwa sAdhanaku satya sOdhanuku sangeetamae prANamu

Aside from the situations that naturally lend themselves to philosophizing, Viswanadh never missed even a tender moment from being expressed lyrically, bringing out another facet in Veturi's word wizardry (pada kouSalam) - beauty - the staple diet in a poet's consumption.

rAsa leela sAginAka rAdha neevaenamma
rAtiraeLa kanta nidara rAdammaa

himamae kurisae chandamaama kougiTa
sumamae virisae vennalamma vAkiTa

mannu tinna chinna vADae minnu kanna vanne kADae
rAsa leela lADinADae rAyabAramaeginADae

madhura lAlasala madhupa lAlanala
pedavilOni madhuvulAlu vratamubooni dariki chaeragA

And the plot thickens. What about situations that indeed needed and demanded words that carry weight, gravitas, and dignity, thereby deserving and commanding respect? Here a little something needs to be said about toolset of any writer - prose or poetry. A good writer needs to be a prolific and voracious reader and in being so would rightly equip himself with the words that match the situations and prepare simultaneously for ideas that wed the words. Since the inception of language and its ornate verbalization, a great many poets have expressed similar situation in their own inimitable ways, each one not reinventing the wheel all over again, but merely improvising on the path laid out before (of course, they are exceptions and exceptional people). And exposing oneself to literature of all kinds - archaic and nouveau - irrespective of the language would provide enough fuel to fire on all cylinders, come the right situation. In the song 'dorakunA iTuvanTi saeva', try figuring out where the original Tyagaraja kruthi ends and where Veturi's improvisation begins, in the ballad 'akhilADaeswari chAmunDaeswari pAlayamAm gouri paripAlayamAma gourI', try ignoring the unmistakable stamp of AdiSankara's 'soundarya lahari' or Annamayya's 'vaedAnata chinatana' in 'naruDi bratuku naTana eeSwaruDi talapu ghaTana, aa renTi naTTa naDuma neekendukinta tapana'.

If every song that Veturi turned in for Viswanadh turned out to be a real gem, Viswanadh's scenarios were only catalysts that spurred Veturi's processes into producing words that could easily rival, if not exceed, the great literature that preceded him. And with any luck (and the will to honor and preserve), Veturi's words could proudly be passed down to the progeny alongside the other great works that stood the test of the time

in the next part - Veturi - K. Raghavendra Rao



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