Rajan and Nagendra (Kannada: Kannada ರಾಜನ್ – ನಾಗೇಂದ್ರ ) were musicians who were prominent composers of film music in Kannada cinema during the late 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s and early 1990s. Rajan, along with his brother Nagendra, created a niche for themselves for nearly four decades. The duo scored music for about 375 films, over 200 of them in Kannada and the remaining in other languages like Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Tulu, Hindi and Sinhala. They composed innumerable hits, hundreds of melodious tunes in their career spanning four decades. They also hold the record for the longest active musical pair in the industry.
Rajan (b. 1933) and Nagendrappa (b. 1935), born in Shivarampet of Mysore in a middle-class family the brothers were clearly destined for a career in music. Their father Rajappa was a musician himself, well versed in playing Harmonium and the flute. He was a playing artiste for the silent movies. But once the talkie movies came he got busy with his other music performances. This musical atmosphere had a profound effect on the two young minds. Renowned Carnatic musician Bidaram Krishnappa was a profound influence and while Rajan learned the violin from no less a personage than T. Chowdaiah himself, Nagendra chose the jaltarang. 
Within a short time, each of them attained proficiency in playing a different instrument – Rajan in violin and Nagendra in Jal tarang. Rajan used to listen to musical performances of eminent musicians at Choudayya Ramamandira in Mysore and hence got the opportunity to listen to music performances by hindusthani, karnatik and western music in the Mysore palace. Later on Rajan came to Bangalore for his further educational studies.
In Bangalore Rajan studied in S.L.N. School in the K.R. Market area, Later in central high school. Rajan learnt the violin and appeared for the violin state level competition and had the distinction of passing in first rank.
Both Rajan and Nagendra participated in public performances through Jaya Maruthi Orchestra. In the meanwhile, Rajan got an offer to go to Madras. He took his brother along with him and they got an opportunity of learning the music trade under the aegis of H. R. Padmanabha Shastri who was known for producing talkie movies at that time. It gave them a lot of exposure to the movie industry.
In 1951, Nagendra returned to Mysore and completed his matriculation. Then he joined P. Kalinga Rao who at that time was a famous radio artiste. Within no time, Nagendra got an opportunity of singing for the movie 'Srinivasa Kalyana' along with Hindustani singer Ameer Bai
Finally, Rajan-Nagendra became independent music directors when they scored music for the film Sowbhagya Lakshmi in 1952. After this, they never looked back for more than four decades. This movie opened their doors of success. After 'Sowbhagya Lakshmi' came Vittalacharya's 'Chanchalakumari', 'Rajalakshmi' and 'Mutthaide Bhagya' in a series to open the doors for these would-be melody kings.
Rajan used to compose the melodies and set the notations for the orchestra. Nagendra used to dictate the lyrics and tune of the song to the singers.
They had a successful stint in Kannada film industry from early 50s till late 90s, but they started shining from 1973 with Gandhada Gudi songs becoming popular throughout Karnataka and dimmed in early 90s, when new generation music took over thus covering a span of two decades of lilting melodies that has been hugely popular till date in Karnataka and other states of South India.
In the 70s came super hits in a row like Nyayave Devaru, Gandhada Gudi, Devara Gudi, Bhagyavantaru, Eradu Kanasu, Naa Ninna Mareyalaare, Naa Ninna Bidalaare, Hombisilu, Bayalu Daari, Paavana Ganga, Giri Kanye and the list goes on.
Further, they kept scoring consistently good music through the 90s and in the course, produced for movies like Mathe Haditu Kogile, Marali Goodige and Suprabhaata. They also composed music for a TV serial 'Abhimaana' on Udaya TV.
Naa Ninna Mareyalaare, Gandhada Gudi, Eradu Kanasu—these huge musical hits of the Kannada screen featured the music of Rajan-Nagendra. Their team was exceptionally good at composing cheerful love duets, although they did come up with a couple of sombre numbers like Baadi hoda balliyinda(P B Srinivas, Eradu Kanasu)
The lyricists who wrote unforgettable lyrics for them are late Hunasur Krishna Murthy, Uday Shankar,Vijiya Narasimha, Geetha Priya, Dodda Range Gowda, Vyasa Rao and manny more. The prominent Telugu lyricists are Narayana Reddy, Dasarathi and late Vetoori Sundarama Murthy and many others. The most prominent Tamil lyricists are late Kanna Dasan and many more.
The main male vocalists who enriched the melody of their songs are late Gantasala, Kala Govindarajan, P.B.Srinivas, late Kishore Kumar, Balasubramanyam, Jesudas, Rajesh Krishna and many more. The popular female vocalists are Bala Saraswati, Soolamangalam sisters, P.Leela, S.Janaki, Vaani Jayaram, Rani, L.R.Easwari, P.Susheela, Jikki, Chitra and many more.
Hundreds of Rajan-Nagendra songs were sung by Legendary singers P.B.Sreenivas, S. Janaki, SPB. Almost all of them remain etched as the unforgettable melodies of Kannada Cinema. The Love songs of SPB-SJ-Rajan-Nagendra combination is considered to be heavenly. Such an everlasting haunting melodies Rajan-Nagendra pair created. The duo is also reported to have introduced another illustrious playback singer K. S. Chitra to the Kannada cinema back in the early 1980s.
Nagendra sang a couple of songs in his five-decade-long career. The most popular was Yaaru yaaru née yaaru for the comedian Narasimharaju. He also sang Nammoora santheli in the Jai Jagadish-Lakshmi starrer Gaalimaatu. Neeliya baninda tareya oorinda from Tony. Somehow his voice was typecast for comic scenes.
Some unforgettable Rajan-Nagendra numbers:
- Akashave beelali mele from Nyayave Devaru
- Aakaasha deepavu neenu from Pavana Ganga
- Aakaashadinda dharegilida from Chandanada Gombe
- Aaseya bhaava olavina jeeva from Mangalya Bhagya
- Aalaya Mrugalaya from Mrugalaya
- Baanallu neene bhuviyallu neene from Bayalu Dari
- Bandeya baalina belakaagi from Avala Hejje
- Bisiladarenu Maleyadarenu from Benkiya bale
- Beladinglondu hennagi bandanthe kande from Premanubandha
- Beluvalda madilalli bevara hani biddaga from Beluvaladha Madilalli
- Cheluveya andada mogake from Devara Gudi
- Dundu mallige mathaadeya from Nanna Devaru
- Ee bhaavageete ninagaagi haadide from Onde Guri
- Ellelli Nodali Ninnane Kanuve from Na ninna mareyalare
- Endendu ninnanu maretu from Eradu Kanasu
- E Hrudaya Haadige from Suprabhata
- Gopilola hey gopala from Nari munidare maari
- Halliyadarenu shiva dilliyadarenu shiva from Mayor Muttanna
- Hosa balige nee joteyade from Naa ninna bidalare
- Indu enage govinda from Eradu Kanasu
- Jeeva veene from Hombisilu
- Kanasalu neene manasalu neene from Bayalu Dari
- Kangalu vandane helide from Mugiyada Kathe
- Kumkumaviruvude hanegaagi from Naaniruvude Ninaagaagi
- Mamaravello Kogileyello from Devara Gudi
- Manasu manasu ondadare from Preethi madu Tamasha nodu
- Maneyanu Belagide Indu from Chandanada Gombe
- Mathu chenna mauna chenna from Rama Lakshmana
- Modalane dinave olide from Pavana Ganga
- Muthina hanigalu' from Bayasade Banda Bhagya
- Na haadalu neevu aadabeku from Kalla Kulla
- Naa ninna mareyalaare from Naa ninna mareyalaare
- Naliva gulabi hoove from Auto Raja
- Nanna haadu nannadu from Suprabhata
- Nanu neenu ondada mele from Na ninna bidalare
- Navaduva Nudiye Kannada Nudi from Gandhadha Gudi
- Neera bittu nelada mele from Hombisilu
- Neralanu Kanada lateyante from Avala Hejje
- Notadage nageya meeti from Parasangada Genda Timma
- Omme ninnannu kann tumba from Gaali matu
- Prema preethi nannusiru from Singapoorinalli Raja Kulla
- Tam nam tam nam nannee manasu midiyutide from Eradu Kanasu
- Tarikere yeri mele mooru kari kuri mari from Devara Duddu
- Tera eri ambaradage from Parasangada Genda Timma
- Thareyu baanige thaavare neerige from Biligiriya Banadali
- Thai thai thai thai bangari from Giri Kanye
- Yuga yugagale saagali from Hrudaya Geethe
- Emo emo idhi (Aggi pidigu)
- Ennenno Janmalabandham (Puja)
- Ningi nela (Puja)
- Pujaluseya (Puja)
- Veena venuvaina sarigama (Intinti Ramayanam)
- Chinukula raali (Nalugu Sthambhalaata)
- Manasa veena madhugeetam (Panthulamma)
- Sirimalleneeva (Panthulamma)
- Letha chaligalulu (Moodu mullu)
- Neekosam yavvanamantha (Moodu mullu)
- Neekallalo Snehamu (Prema Kahidi)
Awards and Recognition
Rajan-Nagendra are in the same class as Hindi cinema's popular composing duo Shankar-Jaikishen, Laxmikanth Pyarelal and Kalyanji-Anandji. They excelled composing technically flawless and violin-rich orchestral interludes, and enjoyed an equally long innings in the industry. It is no exaggeration that these two brothers were called the Kalyanji – Anandji of Kannada film music.
Their first award film in Kannada was
- Eradu Kanasu in 1973–74 – State Award for Best Music Director
- Parasangada Gendethimma in 1978–79 – State Award for Best Music Director
- "Panthulamma" in 1979 – State Award for Best Music Director – Telugu Film, Nandi Best Music Award
They won many more awards from private and public associations such as south Indian film fans association, Chitra Rasikara Sangha, Karnataka films directors association, Kannada chalana chitra pathra karthara sanga, Madras Telugu academy, ugadi puraskara award, Abhinandana film awards Hydrabad kalasagar, Madras etc., Throughout south India. Many of their films have celebrated hundred days and silver jubilees.
Nagendra, the younger one of the two brothers who gave Kannada cinema some of its most memorable hits, died in Bowring hospital at Bangalore on 4 November 2000. Nagendra was admitted to Bowring Hospital for treatment of hernia. He later developed complications because of his high blood pressure and diabetes. He suffered a stroke.
Mr. Rajan is continuing his work along with his son R Ananth kumar. He has written a book titled "Haado suswara sangeetha" regarding an innovative notation system for music enthusiasts. They are also conducting music classes for vocal enthusiasts on Voice culturing & film singing.
|1990||Baare Nanna Muddina Raani||Kannada|
|1977||Bayasade Banda Bhagya||Kannada|
|1970||Boregowda Bangalorige Bandha||Kannada|
|1953||Chanchala Kumari||Kannada||Debut Film as Music Director|
|1967||Devara Gedda Maanava||Kannada|
|1974||Eradu Kanasu||Kannada||Karnataka State Film Award for Best Music Director|
|1991||Gandanige Takka Hendathi||Kannada|
|1994||Gandhada Gudi Part 2||Kannada|
|1992||Hatamaari Hennu Kilaadi Gandu||Kannada|
|1993||Huvondu Beku Ballige||Kannada|
|1987||Inspector Kranti Kumar||Kannada|
|1993||Jaga Mechida Huduga||Kannada|
|1981||Koodi Baalidare Swarga Sukha||Kannada|
|1972||Kulla Agent 000||Kannada||Kishore Kumar sang for this movie|
|1958||Mane Thumbida Hennu||Kannada|
|1959||Manege Banda Mahalakshmi||Kannada|
|1990||Mathe Haditu Kogile||Kannada|
|1979||Naa Ninna Bidalaare||Kannada|
|1976||Naa Ninna Mareyalare||Kannada|
|1972||Naari Munidare Maari||Kannada|
|1991||Nagu Naguta Nali||Kannada|
|1971||Onde Kula Onde Daiva||Kannada|
|1992||Ondu Cinema Kathe||Kannada|
|1978||Panthulamma||Telugu||Nandi Award for Best Music Director|
|1978||Parasangada Gendethimma||Kannada||Karnataka State Film Award for Best Music Director|
|1979||Preethi Maadu Tamashe Nodu||Kannada|
|1999||Prema Prema Prema||Kannada|
|1979||Putani Agent 123||Kannada|
|1988||Sambhavaami Yuge Yuge||Kannada|
|1978||Singapuralli Raja Kulla||Kannada|
|1966||Sri Kannika Parameshwari Katha||Kannada|
|1974||Sri Srinivasa Kalyana||Kannada|
|1981||Yara Hoovu Yara Mudigo||Kannada|