08 June, 2011
Mallee Mallee Idi Raani Roju - The Trinity Concert
-- Ramana Idury (Dallas, Texas)
A nostalgic musical concert with live orchestra, honoring three (hence the name trinity) great music directors of yesteryears - K. V. Mahadevan, Sathyam, and Ilayaraja - was held on the evening of Saturday, June 4, 2011 in Coppell Middle West School Auditorium in Dallas, TX. The event was hosted by another trinity of organizations -- America Telugu Association (ATA), Telugu Association of North Texas (TANTEX), and California based ChimataMusic.com. The concert was inspired by three concerts, honoring each music director individually, which were organized by ChimataMusic.com in the San Francisco Bay Area in the last two years. The event was a grand success by all means with an attendance of hundreds of people. The event lasted nearly four hours featuring 26 full length songs.
The singers for this concert were: a playback singer, Ramu Maharajapuram (Chennai, India) who is popularly known "Andhra Balu"; prominant singer and president of Houston Telugu Cultural Association, Sarada Akunuri (Houston, TX); popular singer, Deepika Uppuluri (Dayton, OH) of Geetham.com sisters and another well known singer, Narayanan Raju (Bay Area, CA).
The musicians for this concert were: Krishanamurthi "Kishmu" Kalvai (Keyboard), Nagaraj Varadharajan (Keyboard), and Farhan Mohamed (Base Guitar) on string based melody; Vinay Dhavala (Flute) and Hollywood product Ramesh Maraj (Saxophone) on wind based melody; Arun "Caddy" Narasimhan (Drumpads) and Makesh Rao (Handsonic) on modern rhythm; and Balaji Mahadevan (Tabla/Dhol/Mridangam/Dafli) and Satya Vaidyanathan (Tabla) on traditional rhythm. All musicians with the exception of Vinay (Minneapolis, MN) are from California and, again with the exception of Ramesh Maraj (Fresno, CA), are from the Bay Area itself.
The program started with Jyothiprajwalana by a former ATA president, Dr. Sandhya Gavva and the singer Smt. Sarada Akunuri, followed by a welcome note from ATA representative Arvind Reddy. Ramana Juvvadi, the key organizer and anchor of the event, mentioned in his introductory note that the inspiration for hosting this event was to remind everyone of the haunting melodies of the 60's and the 70's which had largely been ignored by the current brand of musicians. He thanked all audience in putting faith in this effort and attending in large numbers and he promised that the talented pool of artists and singers would take everyone back to their college days in the 70s and the 80s.
Srinivas Chimata of ChimataMusic.com said that this concert was a union of three of his earlier concerts conducted in the Bay area where he lives but he took up this adventure of hosting in Dallas because of the trust he had in the patronage of Dallas residents and thanked everyone for keeping that trust. He, in particular, thanked Ramana Juvvadi and Arvind Reddy for turning his dream of an out-of-town concert in to a reality. He then thanked Ramana Juvvadi and Suresh Mantrala (his always-dependable friends and staunch supporters of ChimataMusic concerts) for coming along with him all the way from California to Dallas just for helping him in organizing this Trinity concert.
Srinivas introduced the singer Ramu as an extremely talented singer with a voice very close to that of the great S.P. Balu, which earned him the nickname "Andhra Balu". Ramu recently performed for ChimataMusic.com in Hyderabad on the event of a book launching ceremony and his performance there convinced Srinivas and Ramana to bring him all the way from India just for this concert. He then introduced Sarada Akunuri who is a very talented singer from nearby Houston. Sarada is also the president of Telugu Cultural Association in Houston and a Radio Jockey for a local radio station there. Srinivas then intropduced two young and highly talented singers Deepika Uppuluri from Dayton, Ohio, and Narayanan Raju from Bay Area. Sarada, Deepkia, and Narayanan had earlier performed for ChimataMusic.com in the nostalgic concert on Ilayaraja last year.
Ramu started the concert with the prayer "vakratunDam mahAkAyam" and thanked the organizers and audience for giving him the opportunity. The concert started with the devotional song "Sankara..Naadasareerapara" from SankarabharaNam movie. When Ramu started with the aalaapana "Sankara", everyone could see how closely his voice resembled that of SP Balu. Ramu was at his best in the next song, which was a smooth soulful melody "Madhumaasa Velalo" from Andame Anandam movie. Ramu's smooth voice coupled with a right touch of emotions and perfect rendering of music from keyboards by Kishmu and Nagaraj made this song very special.
Ramana said that any concert with a "Balu" needs a "Suseela" as well and introduced Sarada for that role. He also introduced Narayanan Raju as a very energetic and talented singer who traveled all along with Srinivas from California for this concert. Sarada and Narayanan sang their first song of the concert "Manchu Kurise Velalo" from Abhinanandana movie very well. The song started with a very good rendition of flute by Vinay.
Oh..Oh..what was going on? The musicians stopped playing any music. Suddenly a karaoke track started playing for the song "Hello Guru" from Nirnayam movie, but where is the singer? Looks like, the "singer" was coming from the main door behind the audience. It was the renowned saxophonist Ramesh Marajplaying the vocal part on his saxophone. As the song progressed, he started moving from back of the hall to the stage with his trademark saxo-dance! The audience were mesmerized with some vibrant saxophone playing.
Since we had got "Balu" and "Suseela" taken care of, it was time to have our "Janaki". Deepika was introduced next for her first song along with Narayanan. They both sang "Priyaa Priyatama Raagaalu" from Killer movie. All percussionists got an opportunity to show their talent as this is one of the songs where interludes are played to modern rhythm and lyric is sung to traditional rhythm. Sarada provided the chorus support for this song.
Ramu gave a special "vote of thanks" to Srinivas for giving him the first opportunity in Hyderabad and then entrusting him with the lead singing for this concert. He sang the aalapana and pallavi "Allaye digi vachchi....Snehamera Jeevitham Snehamara Ssaswatam" and dedicated to his "dost" (friend) Srinivas. He and Sarada sang their first duet "Tolisari Muddivvamandi" from Edutreetha, an NTR starer. Balaji's Dholak beat, which is a trademark of music director Sathyam, can be heard throughout this song.
After Ramu and Deepika sang "Maata Raani Mounamidi" from Maharshi,movie Ramu aptly followed it up with the pallavi "Maate Raani Chinnadani". Sarada said that after an NTR song, it was time to have a Krishna song. She and Narayanan sang the group song "O.. Hamsa Bale Ramachilaka" from Agent Gopi movie with chorus support from Deepika. After that jovial song, Deepika followed up with one of her best performances, "Ranela Vasantale" from Dance Master. She had won awards in the past for this song and she repeated that tonight as well.
Ramu came back and sang an inspirational Pallavi "Krishi Vunte..Manushulu Rishulautaru" from Adavi Ramudu movie. He said since it was not possible to do full justice to three great music directors in one concert, he was singing these Pallavulu in between the songs to help fill the gap. Sarada first gave a hint to the audience that the following song used to be very popular during the wedding seasons during the late 70' and she along with Ramu sang the wedding song "Sannajajiki Gunnamaviki.." from Muthyala Pallaki movie very well. The musicians, especially on traditional rhythm and wind instruments, did a very good job of reproducing the wedding music in the song. Ramu then sang another soulful Sathyam melody "Ye Divilo Virisina Parijatamo" from Kanne Vayasu movie.
The audience were treated with another lively saxophone performance from Ramesh Maraj, this time along with the live orchestra. Ramesh, played out "Subhalekha Raasukunna" from Kondaveeti Donga, a Chirnajeevi starer. Playing to a fast beat from the modern percussionists Caddy and Makesh, Ramesh enthralled the audience with a bit of stage dancing as well and the audience responded with whistles and claps.
After a fast beat song, it is time for some traditional rhythm. Sarada and Narayanan sang the song "Minneti Sureedu Vachhina" from Seethakoka Chiluka with Deepika providing chorus, Balaji providing Mridangam beats and Ramesh providing saxophone accompaniment. Ramu followed up with a Sathyam Pallavi "Pooche Poolalona..." to set the stage for next song, a romantic melody "Idi Teeyani Vennela Reyi" from Premalekhalu movie. Both singers took very good care of all nuances (sangathulu) of the song needed to bring out the romance in the song with able support from tablas by Balaji and Sathya and flute by Vinay.
Both singers continued with a K. V. Mahadevan Pallavi "Naa Gonthu Srutilona" to set the stage for the next song, a song that brought the legendary lyricist Veturi Sundararama Murthy to limelight. They both sang "Jhummandi Naadam" from Siri Siri Muvva to perfection and received wide applause from the audience. It must be noted that, in order to provide original drum beats, a special bulky instrument called Dhol, was carried by Balaji all the way from California just for this song only, a testament to the uncompromising nature of the musicians when it comes to quality.
Following the tradition of ChimataMusic.com's concerts, the theme song of the concert, "Mallee Mallee Idi Raani Roju" from Rakshasudu movie was played just before break. Sarada and Ramu sang this very well and particularly Sarada was at her best singing jovially and teasingly which was needed from the female singer for this song.
Ramana Juvvadi came back to the stage and joked that this was indeed a "Mallee Mallee Idi Raani Roju" (a day that does not come again and again), given the amount of effort involved assembling so many talented artists from all over the country and world. He requested Srinivas to introduce the musicians who were doing such a wonderful job.
When Srinivas asked the audience "How is our California band performing" everyone responded and cheered in great appreciation. He introduced the musicians as dedicated and uncompromising people whose passion was beyond all barriers -- all of them, except Vinay, being non-Telugu and not exposed to most of the tunes on a regular basis. Also noteworthy is the fact that most of them are full-time software professionals and music is more of a hobby for them than a full time career.
Before starting the second part of the concert, Ramu thanked Ramana Juvvadi for personally hosting him in his house and taking good care of him. He rendered the poem "E Parijatammu leeyagalano" from Ekaveera movie, followed by the Pallavis "Adi bhikshuvu vaDinEmi kOrEdi" and "Sagara Sangamame..", and dedicated them all to Ramana as a token appreciation for his hospitality.
Narayanan and Deepika started the second part of the concert from "Maavi Chiguru Tinagaane" from Seethamahalakshmi movie. Some members of the audience praised Narayanan for his joyful and soft rendering of this song and wished for a bright singing career for him in future.
Sarada, being the only artist from Texas, was the obvious local favorite and she kept her best for the next song -- her solo for the concert. As she sang "Ninu Kori Varnam" from Gharshana moviewto perfection, her voice modulation resembled every bit of Chithra's in the original and she received "Once More" ovation after the song. While Kishmu and Nagaraj took care of melody for this song, Farhan did an excellent job of bass guitar accompaniment needed for this song, and Caddy gave a glimpse of the magic he can do on drum pads when an opportunity arises.
Ramu and Deepika came back with another good melody "O.. Bangaru Rangula Chilaka" from Thota Ramudu movie. One could not help wonder whether it was Ramu or Balu himself singing this song! Deepika's sweet voice could obviously be heard in this duet one more time. Then Sarada and Ramu entertained the audience briefly with the playful Pallavi "Botany Pathamundi.." before another gem of theirs "Keeravani.. Chilaka Laa" from Anveshana movie. Narayanan gave a high-pitched accompaniment to Ramu's low-pitched Aalapana needed in this song.
Ramu sang a teasing Pallavi from the movie "Naari Naari Naduma Muraari" before Deepika joined Ramu for another hit song "Balapam Patti Bhama Vallo" from Bobbili Raja. They received a wide applause from the audience and the song was repeated again as a second "once more" request at the end of the show (the first "once more" request being the Minneti Sureedu song). Sarada came back to join Ramu for one final time for "Yamaho..Nee Yama Yama Andam" from Jagadeka Veerudu Atiloka Sundari. Ramu and Sarada were at their best in this hushaaru song. Vinay once again proved his mettle with several flute interludes in this song.
Ramesh proved next that a saxophone can be an effective instrument for playing soulful songs as well with another solo "Ide Paata" from Puttinilu-Mettinillu movie and received "Once More" ovation. Interestingly, the music director Sathyam himself appeared in the movie for this song, which is a stage song, as the music conductor of the band!
Ramu and Sarada came back for a few Mahadevan Pallavis "Raallallo Isukallo.. (Seetha Raama Kalyaanam)", "Suryudu Choostunnadu Chnadru Vintunnadu (Abhimanyudu)", and "Raayini Aadadi Chesina (Trisoolam)". Ramu sang his last solo song of the concert "Kaluvaku Chandrudu Ento Duram " from Chillara Devullu. Deepkia joined him next for the mass hit of the 70's "Aresukoboyi Paresukunnanu" from NTR's Adavi Ramudu,
Before the final song of the concert, the winners of the singing competition were announced. The first place went to Sridhar Chintalapati, second place to Srinivas Eyyuni, and the third to Vikram Gandikota. The first place winner Sridhar sang the soulful "Paadutha..teeyaga..sallagaa.." and one could see a potential singer for future concerts especially someone for the legendary Ghantasala's voice.
It had been a very long evening and it was time for the final song of the concert but the appreciative and supportive Dallas audience were still around and the hall was almost as full as it was in the beginning of the show. Ramu aptly chose another Pallavi "Enno Ratrulostayi kaani..". The last song is actually a solo "Mutyamalle Merisipoye" from Vayasu Pilichindi movie, but Narayanan and Ramu split the song alternating the charanams between them. Singing with Ramu is not an easy task for another male singer, but Narayanan took up the challenge and proved his mettle as he did in the previous ChimataMusic.com concerts in California.
The show was over but the audience were given with another treat, this time something to actually eat! June 4 being the birthday of the living legendary singer S. P. Balasubrahmanyam, a cake was cut on the occasion by Ramu, the "Balu" in proxy. Everybody left with a sweet taste, figuratively and literally. The concert proved several things:
* Music has no barriers, whether geographical or linguistic.
* There is an immense amount of musical talent available in the US itself.
* It is possible to conduct a high quality concert with that talent, if the right mix of dedicated and passionate organizers come together.
* Even with changing trends in music, there are still hundreds or thousands of avid music lovers of the melodies from 70s and 80s.
Special Attractions of the event:
* Live Orchestra of nine awesome musicians (mostly from California) who reproduced the original music very well.
* Presence of Singer Ramu Maharajapuram (Chennai, India), popularly called "Andhra Balu", whose voice and performance justified that label.
* Saxophonist Ramesh Maraj (Fresno, California), a Hollywood performer, who entertained the audience with his solo saxo performances.
* Singer Ramu entertaining the audience with a varierty of Pallavi's and Padyams in between songs (with both Sarada and Deepika) and cheerful Sarada's intermittent anchoring comments
* A gallery show of several rare pictures of three music directors along with 10 ft. cutouts of Ilayaraja.
* A special cake-cutting ceremony to celebrate the birthday of the great singer, S. B. Balasubrahmanyam.
List of the songs performed
1. Sankara..Naadasareerapara (Ramu)
2. Madhumaasa Velalo (Ramu)
3. Manchu Kurise Velalo (Sarada and Ramu)
4. Solo Saxo, Hello Guru (Ramesh Maraj)
5. Priyaa Priyatama Raagaalu (Deepika and Narayanan)
6. Tolisari Muddivvamandi (Sarada and Ramu)
7. Maata Raani Mounamidi (Deepika and Ramu)
8. O.. Hamsa Bale Ramachilaka (Sarada and Narayanan)
9.Raanela Vasantale (Deepika)
10. Sannajajiki Gunnamaviki (Sarada and Ramu)
11. Ye Divilo Virisina Parijatamo (Ramu)
12. Solo Saxo, Subhalekha Raasukunna (Ramesh Maraj)
13. Minneti Sureedu Vachhina (Sarada and Narayanan)
14. Idi Teeyani Vennela Reyi (Deepika and Ramu)
15. Jhummandi Naadam (Deepika and Ramu)
16. Mallee Mallee Idi Raani Roju (Sarada and Ramu)
17. Ye Paarijaatammuleeyagalano, a Padhyam (Ramu)
18. Maavichiguru Tinagane (Deepika and Narayanan)
19. Ninu Kori Varnam (Sarada)
20. O.. Bangaru Rangula Chilaka (Deepika and Ramu)
21. Keeravani.. Chilaka Laa (Sarada, Ramu and Narayanan)
22. Balapam Patti Bhama Vallo (Deepika and Ramu)
23. Yamaho..Nee Yama Yama Andam (Sarada and Ramu)
24. Solo Saxo, Ide Paata (Ramesh Maraj)
25. Kaluvaku Chandrudu Ento Duram (Ramu)
26. Aresukoboyi Paresukunnanu (Deepika and Ramu)
27. Mutyamalle Merisipoye (Narayanan and Ramu)
28. Minneti Sureedu Vachhina ("Once More" request - Sarada and Narayanan)
29. Balapam Patti Bhama Vallo ("Once More" request - Deepika and Ramu)