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Singeetam’s Cine-Sangeetam: Singeetam Srinivasa Rao

Posted on the 22 September 2014 by Haricharanpudipeddi @pudiharicharan

Take a genre and name it, he’ll still have a handy number of films to pick from his filmography. After all, he is the man to have survived through the thin and thick times of the trade for 40 years in as many as four industries, where trends and commercial obligations, more often, clouds one’s fate over possible repertoire. However, he hasn’t been the one to answer the herd about his films. When asked about his life motto by an interviewer of The Hindu, he fittingly answered ‘Always avoid the beaten track’.

We’re talking about Singeetham Srinivasa Rao, who turned 83 yesterday, i.e. September 21. He has been certainly candid about those visible Hollywood influences in his films, ranging from an Amavasya Chandrudu, loosely based on ‘Butterflies Are Free’ to Indrudu Chandrudu (1989), clearly inspired by a 1988-release Moon over Parador. What’s the connection exactly here? No prizes for guessing that it’s Kamal Hassan. Their association was that very breath of fresh air that the 80’s exuded with, a time where Hindi films had stooped to an all-time low with those semi-westernized templates that even had Amitabh Bachchan’s career staring down the barrel.

While K Vishwanath took an artistic turn with the likes of Sankarabharanam, Sagara Sangamam and K Balachander explored complicated threads surrounding relationships in the same phase, Singeetham was one, who at least, competed indirectly with the new-wave of filmmakers, say, a young Mani Ratnam and Balu Mahendra. He wasn’t the one to sprinkle over-the-top drama and include whistle-worthy songs. He was, and is as fascinated about technological advancements, as much as Ram Gopal Varma today.

Spare some time to take a look at Pushpaka Vimanam, a silent-film, whose thematic look-alike in Hollywood arrived only two decades later. His collaboration with Hassan produced some of the most original comedies that made for relieving, lazy weekend watches and mood-boosters with families, talking about Sommakodidi Sokadadidi, Micheal Madana Kamaraja and Navvandi Lavvandi.

It’s equally tough to ignore the fascinating science-fiction cum semi-periodical, Balakrishna’s Aditya 369, a near-perfect blend of science and populist entertainment, whose idea he credits to HG Wells’ ‘Time Machine’, which he had read during his childhood days. He now plans to make a sequel to the same, reportedly titled ‘Aditya 999′, still in its scripting stages, to obviously feature the Simha actor yet again.

On the personal front, as it is associated with any from a creative arena, he maintains that his family is the biggest gift of his life. In a candid chat, he replied once to a daily, “My grandchildren are my heroes. They do what the heroes are supposed to do — give me hope, excite me to wonder, make me laugh, touch me with their honesty, engage me, entertain me, enlighten me”

His recent films, however reveal an amount of disconnect with the contemporary lot. With the exception of Little John in 2001, a mythological fantasy that starred actress Jyothika in the lead role, his other films like Vijayam, Mumbai Express and the latest, Welcome Obama, only cast a shadow upon his yesteryear greatness. He still has the energy to tell stories to people and is smart enough to let his work do the talking. Confucius was never more right when he said, “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”

Here’s wishing the legend, pink of health, hereby expecting more films from his megaphone, even it is demanding, and that should hopefully survive the test of time, as his earlier works have clearly proved so.

 By Srivathsan N. First published in Cinegoer.net

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