S. Rajeswara Rao

Salur Rajeswara Rao
Also known as Salur Rajeswara Rao
Born 11 October 1922
Origin Sivaramapuram, Vizianagaram district, Andhra Pradesh, India
Died 26 October 1999(1999-10-26) (aged 77)
Genres Indian film scores
Occupation(s) Composer
Instruments Harmonium
Electric Guitar
Years active 1934–1986
Notable instruments

Salur Rajeswara Rao (Telugu: సాలూరు రాజేశ్వరరావు) (11 October 1922 – 25 October 1999) was an Indian composer, multi instrumentalist, conductor singer-songwriter, actor, music producer, and musician known for his works predominantly in South Indian cinema.[1] Regarded as one of the finest music composers, Rao's works are noted for integrating Indian classical music in Telugu cinema for over half a century.[2][3]

In his recordings, Rao pioneered the use of light music in Telugu cinema; "Thummeda Oka saari", "Kopamela Radha", "Podarintilona", "Rave Rave Koyila", "Challa Gaalilo" and "Paata Paduma Krishna" were all written by his father. Rao's most rewarding assignments came from Gemini Studios, which he joined in 1940 and with which he remained for a decade.[4]

After leaving Gemini, he received an offer to provide music for B. N. Reddy's "Malleeswari" in 1950; the song was a hit. "Vipranarayana", "Missamma" and a host of other musical hits – more than a hundred in Telugu most of which won the National Film Awards for best film(s), and Tamil and a few in Kannada – followed. When Vijaya's Missamma (originally a Telugu film) was remade as Miss Mary in Bollywood, the film's soundtrack retained one of Rao's compositions.[5][6]

Early career

He was born in the village of Sivaramapuram, near Salur in Vizianagaram district (formerly Srikakulam district), Andhra Pradesh, India. His father, Sanyasi Raju, was a famous mridangam player at concerts performed by Dwaram Venkataswamy Naidu and also a lyricist.

Rao's introduction to cinema came unexpectedly, in the form of Mr. Huchins' (of the Huchins Recording Company) visit to Rao's home district of Vizianagaram in 1934. A child prodigy, Rao could identify the Carnatic music ragams at age four; by the time he was seven, he was giving stage performances. Huchins spotted young Rajeswara Rao's talent, and took him to Bangalore with his father; there, young Rao recorded "Bhagawat Gita". Film producers P. V. Das and Gudavalli Ramabramham visited Bangalore and, impressed by Rao's singing ability, brought him to Madras. They cast him as Lord Krishna in their production of Sri Krishna Leelalu in 1934. The film was released the next year (1935) and Rajeshwara Rao became a household name all over Andhra Pradesh.

Rao went to Calcutta (now Kolkata) to act in Keechaka Vadha, and met such stalwarts as Kundan Lal Saigal and Pankaj Mullick.[7] He became a disciple of Saigal and studied Hindustani music for a year, learning to play the sitar and surbahar. Rao had already mastered playing the tabla, dholak, and miridangam; later instruments were piano, harmonium, mandolin and electric guitar. He learned orchestration, and how to mix the sounds of different instruments.

Music director

Returning to Madras in 1938, Rao formed his own music troupe. He worked as assistant to Jayaramayyar for a Tamil film, Vishnuleela, in which he also played the role of Balarama and sang his own songs. He became a full-fledged music director on the film Jayaprada. He continued acting in Bala Nagamma and Illalu (in which he played opposite his singing partner, Raavu Balasaraswathi).

When Rao entered the industry, there was no playback system. The actors sang and acted at the same time as the orchestra played in the background, unseen by the camera. While he was making Illalu, the playback system became popular.[8]

Among the classical ragas, Rao liked "Bhimplas (Abheri)", "Sindhu Bhairavi", "Kafi", "Kalyani", "Pahad" and "Malkauns (Hindolam)", which he used most frequently in his songs. His two assistants (for over four decades), Rajagopal and Krishnan – both well-versed in classical music – were an asset to him.

Personal life

Rao was born in the village of Sivaramapuram, near Salur in Vizianagaram district (formerly Srikakulam district), Andhra Pradesh, India. His father, Sanyasi Raju, was a famous mridangam player at concerts performed by Dwaram Venkataswamy Naidu and also a lyricist.

Rao was married to Rajeswari Devi; the couple had five sons and four daughters. His eldest son, Saluri Ramalingeswara Rao, was a piano and electric-organ player in South India. His second son, Saluri Poornachandra Rao, was a guitarist. His third and fourth sons, Saluri Vasu Rao and Saluri Koteswara Rao (Koti), are also music directors in the Telugu film industry. Rao's youngest son, Saluri Koti Durga Prasad, is not associated with the film industry.Daughters are Ramadevi,mangamma(her both the sons are also leading musicians),kousalya,and the youngest beloved daughter Vijayalakshmi. Saluri Rajeswara Rao's elder brother, Saluri Hanumantha Rao, was a music director in the Kannada and Telugu film industry.



Rao visited the United States of America in 1981, performing at the Telugu Association of North America conference and the Telugu Literary and Cultural Association (TLCA).


Year Film Language Function
1935 Sri Krishna Leelalu Telugu Actor
1936 Maya Bazaar Actor
1939 Jayaprada Telugu Actor and Music director
1940 Illalu Telugu Actor and Music director
1940 Jeevanmukti Telugu
1941 Apavadu Telugu
1942 Bala Nagamma Telugu Music director
1943 Chenchu Lakshmi Telugu
1943 Dhaasippen Tamil
1944 Bhishma Telugu
1945 Paduka Pattabhishekam Telugu
1947 Miss Malini Tamil Music Director (with Parur S. Anantharaman)
1947 Ratna Mala Telugu
1948 Chandralekha Hindi
1948 Chandralekha Tamil
1948 Vindya Rani Telugu Music director
1949 Apoorva Sagodharargal Tamil
1949 Nishaan Hindi
1949 Apoorva Sahodarulu Telugu
1950 Aahuti Telugu
1951 Malliswari Telugu Music director
1951 Navvite Navaratnalu Telugu
1952 Priyuralu Telugu
1953 Manampol Mangalyam Tamil Music director
1953 Pempudu Koduku Telugu
1953 Poongodhai Tamil
1953 Vayyari Bhama Telugu
1954 Raju Peda Telugu
1954 Aandi Petra Selvam Tamil
1954 Vipra Narayana Telugu Music director
1954 Vipra Narayana Tamil Music director
1954 Kudumbam Tamil Music director
1955 Missamma Telugu Music director
1955 Missiyamma Tamil Music director
1956 Bala Sanyasamma Katha Telugu
1956 Bhale Ramudu Telugu Music director
1956 Prema Pasam Tamil Music director
1956 Charana Daasi Telugu Music director
1956 Matharkula Manikkam Tamil Music director
1957 Allauddin Adhbhuta Deepam Telugu
1957 Alavudeenum Arputha Vilakkum Tamil
1957 Bhale Ammayilu Telugu
1957 Iru Sagodharigal Tamil
1957 Mayabazar Telugu Music director (with Ghantasala)
1957 Maya Bajaar Tamil Music director (with Ghantasala)
1958 Chenchu Lakshmi Telugu Music director
1958 Chenchu Lakshmi Tamil Music director
1958 Kadan Vaangi Kalyaanam Tamil Music director
1959 Appu Chesi Pappu Koodu Telugu Music director
1959 Aval Yaar Tamil
1959 Manjal Magimal Tamil
1960 Petra Manam Tamil
1960 Rani Ratnaprabha Telugu Music director
1961 Bhakta Jayadeva Telugu Music director
1961 Iddaru Mitrulu Telugu Music director
1961 Bharya Bharthalu Telugu Music director
1962 Aradhana Telugu Music director
1962 Vikramaadhithan Tamil
1962 Bhishma Telugu Music director
1962 Kula Gothralu Telugu Music director
1963 Chaduvukunna Ammayilu Telugu Music director
1964 Amara Shilpi Jakkana Telugu Music director
1964 Amara Shilpi Jakkanachari Kannada Music director
1964 Bobbili Yuddham Telugu Music director
1964 Desa Drohulu Telugu Music director
1964 Doctor Chakravarti Telugu Music director
1964 Mairavana
1964 Manchi Manishi Telugu Music director
1964 Puja Phalam Telugu Music director
1965 Dorikite Dongalu Telugu
1966 Aatma Gowravam Telugu
1966 Chilaka Gorinka Telugu
1966 Palnati Yudham Telugu Music director
1966 Sangita Lakshmi Telugu
1967 Bhakta Prahlada Telugu Music director
1967 Pula Rangadu Telugu
1967 Vasanta Sena
1968 Bangaru Panjaram Telugu Music director
1969 Aatmiyulu Telugu Music director
1969 Aadarsa Kutumbam Telugu
1970 Chitti Chellelu Telugu
1971 Pavitra Bandham Telugu
1971 Amayakuralu Telugu
1972 Neeti-Nijayiti Telugu
1972 Bala Bharatam Telugu
1972 Kalam Marindi Telugu
1973 Neramu Siksha Telugu
1975 Yashoda Krishna Telugu
1975 Manushulanta Okkate Telugu
1976 Chakradhari Telugu
1977 Kurukshetram Telugu
1977 Radhakrishna Telugu
1980 Shri Vinayaka Vijayamu Telugu
1980 Ondu Hennu Aaru Kannu Kannada
1985 Shri Datta Darshanam Telugu
1986 Tandra Paparayudu Telugu

See also


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