It was another calm evening with the Sun giving way to the bright white moon waking up from its day’s slumber. It was a familiar sight of people gathering and walking into an auditorium to witness a cultural program in the Silicon Valley. But what set Sirijallu apart was realized by everyone in just a few minutes, soon after the curtains rose at 6:00 PM on Saturday, August 9 2008.
Audience was welcomed to a near perfect rendering of ’Vidhaata Talapuna’ from the movie “Sirivennela”. Before people could settle for the next song, there was a pleasant surprise on the stage. It was not a dream. It was for real. A hero for 70 million Telugu people, his lyrics mesmerize the young and the old alike. A thinker, philosopher and a social reformer, he is more than a mere movie lyricist. He is none other than Sri Sirivennela Seetharama Sastry. He seldom adorns any regular stage or awards functions. But he chose the platform created by “Aavakai” that day.
When “Aavakai”, a live music band formed by young minds in the Silicon Valley, approached Sirivennela for a live show in the USA, it didn’t take long for him to accept wherein he turned down many such invitations in the past from organizations across the globe. It was Aavakai’s seed of thought about doing a show on Sirivennela’s songs and highlighting the message in his lyrics that struck a chord with him. He strongly believed that if one can make the youth think right, it will trigger a positive change in the society.
True to his reputation, Sirivennela set the stage on fire, while “Aavakai” tried to match by bringing out the true message in his songs with near perfect musical delivery. The band selected 15 of his gems based on a variety of moods. Tiny tots Poojitha, Anusha, Eshika and Archit endeared the audience with ‘Adagalani undi oka doubt ni’ from Little Soldiers, which innocently describes the contrasting simplicity and depth in a child’s question. Ovation came as no-surprise when ‘Kansas’Raja and Dr. Swathi rendered the Nandi-award winning song, ‘Andela Ravamidi’, that was accompanied by a classical dance performance conveying the joy of a dancer as she lets her soul soar. While the audience grew nostalgic as they were taken down the memory lane to their college days with Botany paatham, singers Narayana & Vamsi struck a chord with them as they sang youthful, inspirational and energetic songs like ‘Chalo re Chalo’ from Jalsa and ‘Enthavaraku endukoraku’ from Gamyam.
Melodious renditions of Sirivennela’s recent hits like ‘Evaraina choosuntara’ from Anukokunda oka roju and ‘Nuvvostanante nenoddontana’ from Varsham, by singers Bharathi and Padmini wooed the young and the old alike. Rendition of ‘Bhadram be careful’ by singer & founder, Surya, brought a fond chuckle to both the married and yet-to-be-married men. The band performed many other hits of Sirivennela including a medley of his lyrical chartbusters like ‘Tooneega Toonega’, ‘Anaganaga akasam undi’, ‘Kotta ga rekkolochena’, ‘Chandrullo unde kundelu’ amongst other songs. The full-throated rendition of the singers was matched with impeccable orchestration by Surya Vakkalanka, Kishmu, Narayana on the keyboards, Krishna on the bass guitar, Hymanand & Krishna on the tabla,Arun & Mohan on the drums/pads, and Ashwin on the flute. The band brought out the immaculate synergy between Sirivennela’s passionate speeches and his melodious songs.
Contrary to the expectation of the ordinary audience, Sirivennela didn’t talk about movies or movie songs on that day, rather, he spoke about the larger message behind them – the message that every individual in the society needs to give a serious thought to and embrace with unconditional acceptance. His lyrics are not mere words to tunes; they are sheer magic laced with profound message. That’s why they never slip into oblivion. They are timeless. The audience got to see the thinker behind him, the passion and conviction he has, and the philosophy he conveys.
“Aavakai” beaconed a new ear in presenting music shows with a purpose. Each song delivered by them, touched the core of everyone in the theatre that evening. In Sirivennela’s own words, “Aavakai” band truly represented all the efforts it takes to prepare “Aavakai” pickle for the final taste that everyone yearns for. Aavakai truly served a long-lasting treat for about 800 people that day. Time slipped into oblivion and people wanted more of Sirivennela and Aavakai band. But as all good things have to end, so did the 5 hour long show. It’s just the beginning and many more are yet to come from “Aavakai”.
It sure appeared like the Sun finally rose from the West this time.
Sirijallu event was organized by Susmitha Vakkalanka and Siddhartha Nookala, with support from many other committed volunteers. Dance performances were choreographed by Fusion Beats (Manasa Rao), Gowri Yadlapati, Preeti Kotha and others. For photos and videos of the event, visit www.aavakai.com.