Telugu film lyricist Sirivennela Seetharama Sastry passes away
Sirivennela has written over 3,000 songs for Telugu feature films and was regarded as the best poet in the film industry
Renowned Telugu film lyricist and Padma Shri awardee Chembolu Seetharama Sastry, popularly known as Sirivennela Seetharama Sastry, died of lung cancer in a corporate hospital at Secunderabad on Tuesday afternoon. He was 66 and is survived by his wife, two sons, and a daughter.
His family members admitted him to the hospital on November 24 after he complained of uneasiness. His condition got deteriorated on Tuesday and he died while undergoing treatment. Telugu cinema has lost a great film personality who was known for versatility and using nuances in his lyrics.
Born on May 20, 1955, at Anakapalli, Andhra Pradesh, Seetharama Sastry had his secondary education in his hometown, while he completed his Intermediate education in Kakinada and BA in Andhra Viswa Kala Parishad. He worked in BSNL before his brother Sreerama Sastry discovered his talent and encouraged him to pursue a career in the film industry.
Seetharama Sastry made his debut as a lyricist with the film Janani Janmabhoomi (1984). He cemented his legacy with director K Viswanath's Sirivennela (1986) and the film's success has become his pseudo-identity as a prefix to his own name. Interestingly, it is K Viswanath, who suggested Seetharama Sastry use his own name along with the film's name. Seetharama Sastry, with his inimitable style of writing songs, left an ever-lasting impression on the Telugu film industry.
Sirivennela has written over 3,000 songs for Telugu feature films and was regarded as the best poet in the film industry by his competitors as well. He received Nandi awards for songs Vidhatha Thalapuna, Telavaarademo Swami, Andela Ravamidi Padamuladaa, Surajyamavaleeni Swarajyamendukani, Chilaka Ee Thoodu Leeka, Jagamanta Kutumbam Naadi, and Mari Anthagaa.
The 11-time Nandi award-winning lyricist, Sirivennela, wrote a variety of songs ranging from devotional, romantic, folk, mass, and classic poetry. At a time when music directors dominated the film world, Sirivennela secured a space for poetry. His meaningful lines created him an identity among the masses and laureates.
He is known to have a long association with directors K Viswanath, Ram Gopal Varma, Krishna Vamsi and Trivikram Srinivas among others. Sirivennela had adopted Krishna Vamsi as his son long ago and the duo shared a great rapport.
The legendary lyricist recently wrote the song Dosti for SS Rajamouli's RRR, while his last film was Nani-starrer Shyam Singha Roy, which is scheduled for a theatrical release on December 24.
A great loss to Telugu film industry
Director K Viswanath, who is reckoned as the mentor of Sirivennela said, “I have an emotional connect with him. I can not believe that he left us and it's a huge loss to me. He was an amazing talent; he shouldn't have left us this early. When SP Balasubrahmanyam passed away, I felt like I lost my right shoulder and now, with Seetharama Sastry's demise, I lost my left shoulder too. I am at a loss of words and I express my deepest condolences to his family members.”
Actor Nandamuri Balakrishna said, “With his amazing capabilities, Sirivennela Seetharama Sastry garu spread the Telugu music to every nook and corner of the world. He gave a literary honour to our film songs. I am very fond of him and he had written some of the greatest songs for my films. I cannot believe that he has left us like this. I pray God to attain peace to his soul.”
Calling Sirivennala’s demise a great loss to Telugu cinema, music composer Devi Sri Prasad said, "I share a close bond with Sirivennala garu from my childhood. He is extremely close to my father and my family members as he lived close to our house in Chennai. He was a father figure to me and we share a wonderful association. He used to tell me great things about literature, songs and music. I spoke to him on his birthday and he always used to call our combination the best. He was fond of our work and he expressed his desire to write an essay about me. Our industry has a lot a guru and a legend. I must say I am lucky enough to work with him in many films. He is not just an outstanding lyric writer, but a great human being too."
Recalling his association with Sirivennala, lyric writer Bhaskarabhatla Ravi Kumar said, "I am his Ekalavya sishya. He has been a great source of inspiration to me from the 90s, ever since I was working as a journalist and aspiring to become a lyric writer. I am a great admirer of his work and I watched Gaayam 25 times just to see him on the silver screen. His appeal as an iconic lyricist across all age groups comes next only to Veturi garu. I always called him Guruvu garu. Although we meet occasionally, he had immense love for me. I vividly remember meeting him and spending a whole day talking about songs and observing him writing songs at Suresh Guest House, Film Nagar. He always comes first to appreciate the young talent and has always been a great support to many of us. He was a great genius and the void left after his death cannot be easily filled."
In a message, Chiranjeevi said he was shocked by the sudden demise of his friend, Sirivennela. "My friend walked towards the gates of heaven like a star. He gave us literature as a gift. His works are a creation of an awakened society, his words have the astuteness on the lines of Sri Sri and his writings have wiped out the rot in our society. His personality too exemplifies these qualities and he is an incredible embodiment of talent. After Veturi Sundarrama Murthy garu, it was Sirivennela who possessed the literary fortune as his quality. He always had that emotional connection with the audience. My heart is heavy and I don't think nobody can ever fill the void he left."
Director SV Krishna Reddy said Sirivennela always holds a special place in his heart. “It's really unfortunate that Sirivennela garu left us too soon. He has written many songs in my films and of them, Sirulolikinche (Yama Leela), and Chilaka Ye Thodu Leka (Subhalagnam), which won a Nandi award, are my all-time favourites. He always asked for the script before penning a song and would also tell the meaning of the words he had used in the context of the song. There were many instances where he suggested appropriate changes in my scripts and I happily incorporated them without any second thought. I have never seen such gaiety and talent in anyone else. I can't think of anyone else but Sirivennela garu for writing such wonderful songs."
Playback singer Mano, fondly recalling Sirivennela said, "In my 30-year-old career in Telugu music, I sang many songs written by him. He was a literary giant, who is extremely close to my family. He has written so many songs that have become legendary. He is one of the humblest of all human beings who believed his work does the talk."
Tributes pour in
Condolences and tributes are pouring in from people from all walks of life to the late lyricist. Vice-president M Venkaiah Naidu, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Chief Ministers K Chandrashekhar Rao and YS Jaganmohan Reddy were among several VIPs who condoled his death. TPCC president A Revanth Reddy, former Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu and several other political personalities mourned the death of Sirivennela. Film personalities Trivikram Srinivas, Krish, SS Thaman, and S Naga Vamsy went to the hospital to pay homage.
Chief Justice of India, NV Ramana, in his condolence message said, “The Telugu film lyric took on new contours with the entry of Sastry garu . He lit up the songs on screen and his writings would continue to stay immortal in the hearts of the audience.”
Sirivennela Seetharama Sastry’s mortal remains will be kept for public viewing at Telugu Film Chamber on Wednesday morning, and his last rites will be performed later in the evening at Maha Prasthanam, Hyderabad.
Sirivennela Seetharama Sastry's top hits:
Vidhata Thalapuna (Sirivennela)
Gopilola (Ladies Tailor)
Nallanchu Thella Cheera (Donga Mogudu)
Thelavarademo Swamy (Shrutilayalu)
Sinni Sinni Korigaladaga (Swayamkrushi)
Tellarindi Legando (Kallu)
Taralirada Tane Vasantham (Rudraveena)
Ghallu Ghallu (Swarnakamalam)
Lalijo Lalijo (Indrudu Chandrudu)
Botany Patamundi (Siva)
Balapam Patti (Bobbili Raja)
Yevaru Rayagalaru (Amma Rajinama)
Chukkalu Temmanna (April 1 Vidudala)
Jaamu Raatiri (Kshana Kshanam)
Nee Navvu Cheppindi (Antham)
Niggateesi Adugu (Gaayam)
Andama Anduma (Govinda Govinda)
Chakravarthy ki (Money)
Chilaka Ye Thodu Leka (Subhalagnam)
Ee Velalo Nuvvu (Gulabi)
Kannullo Nee Roopame (Ninne Pelladutha)
Devudu Karunisthadani (Prema Katha)
Alanati Rama Chandrudu (Murari)
Manasuna Unnadhi (Priyamaina Neeku)
Cheppave Chirugali (Okkadu)
Jagamantha Kutumbam (Chakram)
Nammaka Tappani (Bommarillu)
Nee Prasanalu (Kotha Bangaru Lokam)
Indiramma Intiperu (Mahatma)
Sada Nannu (Mahanati)
Samajavaragamana (Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo)