Balantrapu Rajanikanta Rao

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Balantrapu Rajanikanta Rao
Born (1920-01-29)29 January 1920
Nidadavole, Andhra Pradesh
Nationality Indian
Ethnicity Hindu
Citizenship India
Education B.A.(Hons.)
Alma mater Andhra University
Genre Writer, composer, musicologist
Notable works Andhra Vaggeyakara Charitamu
Notable awards Kalaprapoorna

Balantrapu Rajanikanta Rao BA (Telugu: బాలాంత్రపు రజనీకాంత రావు) (born 29 January 1920) is the son of "Kavi Rajahamsa" Balantrapu Venkata Rao who was one of the modern Telugu poet-duo Venkata Parvateswara Kavulu. He is a well-known writer, composer and poet in the Telugu language. He has won several national and state level awards for his work.

Early life[edit]

Rajanikanta Rao started his schooling in Pithapuram, East Godavari District, Andhra Pradesh. He went on to complete his high school education at P.R. College, Kakinada. He later completed his B.A. (Hons) from Andhra University in the year 1940, with Telugu and Sanskrit as main subjects. Dr C.R. Reddy, former VC of Andhra University sang along with Rajanikanta Rao during college days.

Career[edit]

Broadcaster[edit]

Rajanikanta Rao began his career as a programme executive in AIR-Madras in the year 1941. He was responsible for writing and composing the first Telugu song ever broadcast in independent India on the midnight of 15 August 1947, following the speech of Jawaharlal Nehru; "Our tryst with destiny". The song "Maadi Swatantra desam" was sung by T. Suryakumari. As the programme executive in AIR-Vijayawada he was the originator of 'Bhakti Ranjani'; a devotional programme.

Rajanikanta Rao became the station director of AIR-Ahmadabad, AIR-Vijayawada and retired as the station director of AIR-Bangalore (1976–78) – completing 36 years in the broadcasting field. He initiated and designed an interactive radio programme, called "Dharmasandehalu" hosted by Mr.Ushasri. He was the first director to broadcast an Annamacharya kirtana everyday before 7.00 clock news bulletin. He was made the Producer Emeritus of Akashavani in 1982.

Artist[edit]

Since the age of twenty one he has written lyrics, composed songs and directed ballets. Under the pseudonyms Nalini and Taranath he has composed many tunes for popular movies[1] like Swargaseema, Gruhapravesam, etc. Kuchipudi ballets and Yakshaganas such as 'Sri Krishna Saranam Mama', 'Menaka Viswamitra', Vipranarayana', 'Chandidas' and 'Subhadraajuniyam' have won him accolades. His literary works include 'Satapatra Sundari'- a collection of lyrics, 'Andhra Vaggeyakara Charitam'- his magnum opus (described below) and 'Jejimamayya Patalu'- a collection of songs for children.

He composed and conducted music for Vadyabrinda (a national orchestra), AIR-Delhi and Vadyabrinda, AIR-Madras. His popular compositions included Andhri – an origin of the Raga Kalyani, Raga Desavarali, Raga Devasalagam, Viswayanam-the voyage of the universe and 'Sangeeta Gangotri' – a musical composition on the evolution of Indian music to name a few.

Musicologist[edit]

'Andhra Vaggeyakara Charitam' is regarded his magnum opus. It consists of biographies of lyricists and music composers along with a history and evolution of Andhra music, which won in 1961 the Central Sahitya Akademi Award. In the year 1980, Mr. Rajanikanta Rao was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by his alma mater Andhra University. From 1988 to 1990, he worked as a visiting professor of the Telugu University, Rajahmundry.He then joined the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) as a special officer of the Sri Venkateswara Kalapeetham and worked there for 4 years. He has been presenting research papers on musicology in various conferences of Music Academy, Madras on subjects that include Kshetrayya's lyrics, Geeta Govinda, Ragas of Gandhara Grama, ancient scales of Indian music, etc. He shared his memoirs of rich socio-cultural experiences over a lifetime through 'Rajani Bhavatarangalu', a weekly column published in the Telugu newspaper Andhra Prabha.

Interview with Chalam[edit]

In 1972, Rajanikanta Rao had taken an interview of the popular Telugu writer with the name Gudipati Venkatachalam as the Director of AIR-Vijayawada. This interview remains the only radio-broadcast interview[2] of the famous writer till this day.

Operas[edit]

Rajanikanta Rao made a name for himself with operas which have been choreographed by dancers like Vempati Chinna Satyam and Shobha Naidu some of which are as follows:

1. Chandidas

2. Divya Jyoti (on Buddha)

3. Viswaveena (on Orpheus)

4. Megha Sandesham

5. Menaka Viswamitra

6. Kalyana Srinivasam

7. Sri Krishna Saranam Mama

8. Namostute Nari

Published Works[edit]

1. Andhra Vaggeyakara Charitam

2. Viswaveena (A book of operas in Telugu)

3. Satapatra Sundari (Songs of all hews) which won Telugu Bhasha Samiti Award.

4. Alone with the spouse divine (Ekantaseva) published by the TTD.

5. Kshetrayya (a biography on the saint composer with translation of his lyrics) published by the national Sahitya Akademi.

6. Ramadasu (A biography of the saint composer published by the national Sahitya Akademi)

7. Jejimamayya Patalu (Songs for children published by EMESCO)

8. Muvva Gopala Padavali (A biography of the saint composer with translation of his lyrics)

9. Tyagaraju (A biography on the saint composer Tyagaraja published by the National Book Trust)

10. Etiki Edurita (A collection of modern Telugu poetry by Rajani)

11. Chaturbhani (A collection of four Sankrit plays written in 4th century BC translated into Telugu)

12. A collection of Annamacharya lyrics translated into English and published by Dravidian University, Kuppam

Telugu Cinema and Dance Dramas[edit]

1. Bhale Pelli and Tarumaru

  • Menaka Viswamitra – dance drama (script and music)
  • Jo Achyutananda – sung by Subhadra Devi

2. Swargaseema (1945) (songs and music) directed by B.N. Reddy (the popular song 'Oho pavurama' and 'Oho tapodhana sundara')

3. Perantalu (music) directed by T. Gopichand

4. Lakshmamma Katha

5. Gruhapraveesam – produced by Sarathi Pictures and directed by T. Gopichand

6. Manathi – directed by Y.V. Rao

7. Rajamakutam (1959) and Bangaru Papa (1954) directed by B.N. Reddy

Awards[edit]

The numerous titles such as Naada Sudharnava, Pumbhaava Saraswati, Naveena Vaggeyakara conferred on him are reflections of his versatility.

1. Tagore Akademi Ratna – A one time honour by the Sangeet Natak Akademi to mark Rabindranath Tagore's 150th Anniversary in 2011.[3]

2. Kalaprapoorna – An honorary doctorate conferred on him by his alma mater Andhra University in 1981.

3. Kala Ratna Award – conferred on him by the Andhra Pradesh government in 2007.[4]

4. Central Sahitya Akademi Award in 1961[5]

5. The Pratibha Moorti Lifetime Achievement award for 2000 was bestowed on him by US based Appajyotsula Vishnubhotla Foundation.[6]

References[edit]