Nagendra, one among the famous pair of Music Directors Rajan-Nagendra who have given hundreds of melodious tunes for 375 films, is no more with us. But the rich contribution he has made towards livening the common man’s mind continues to live -- and will live forever.
During the olden days, this duo had created such a wave in film music that any person on the street would be humming one or the other song of theirs. Then, the Hindi film world had seen the achievements of paired music directors like Laxmikant-Pyarelal, Shankar-Jaikishan and Kalyanji-Anandji. It is a matter of pride for the kannadigas that such a pair appeared in the Kannada tinsel world -- in the form of Rajan-Nagendra. It is no exaggeration that these two brothers were called the Kalyanji – Anandji of Kannada film music.
Rajan (1933) and Nagendrappa (1935) were born in Shivarampet of Mysore in a middle-class family. Father Rajappa was a musician himself, well versed in playing the harmonium. He was a playing artiste for the silent movies of those days. But once the talkie movies came along, he was out of job. So he started to earn a living by teaching music at his humble abode. This musical atmosphere had a profound effect on the two young minds, who started accompanying their father to orchestras. Also, famous musician at that time, Bidaram Krishnappa lived a few houses away which kept influencing the young lads from time to time. Within a short time, each of them attained proficiency in playing a different instrument – Rajan in violin and Nagendra in Jal Tarang (incidentally, every tune of theirs does have a sprinkling of the two instruments).
In 1941, Nagendra came to Bangalore and joined the S.L.N. School in the K.R. Market area where as his elder brother stayed back in Mysore. Outside of school hours, Nagendra also joined Jai Maruti – a school of instrumental music.
In the meanwhile, Rajan got an offer to go to erstwhile Madras. He took his brother along with him and they got an opportunity of learning the tricks of the music trade under the aegis of H. R. Padmanabha Shastri who was known for producing talkie movies. They also helped Nagendra Rao in scoring music for one of Shastri’s movies.
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 (this duo itself scored the music for ‘Sri Srinivasa Kalyana’ that was produced later in the 70s with Dr. Raj Kumar in the lead role).
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. After ‘Sowbhagya Lakshmi’ came Vittalacharya’s ‘Chanchalakumari’, ‘Rajalakshmi’ and ‘Mutthaide Bhagya’ in a series to open the doors for these would-be melody kings.
In the seventies came superhits 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’……….the list goes on. They bagged the State Award for the Best Music for the movies ‘Eradu Kanasu’ and ‘Parasangada Gendethimma’. Further, they kept scoring consistently good music through the nineties and in the course, produced masterpieces for movies like ‘Chandanada Gombe’, ‘Marali Goodige’ and ‘Suprabhaata’. They recently composed music for a number of films as also for a currently running TV serial ‘Abhimaana’ on Udaya TV.
The two brothers had many firsts to their credit including getting popular Hindi singer Kishore Kumar to sing for the movie ‘Kulla Agent 000’. And perhaps they hold the record for the longest active musical pair in the film industry.
Nagendra himself was more than a music director. He sang ‘Yaaru yaaru nee yaaru’ (Ratnamanjari), ‘Driving maadtheeya eh kulla’(Kulla Kulli), ‘Nammoora santheli’(Gaali Maathu) and many more. The pair directed music for about 375 films in Tamil, Telugu, Tulu and Sinhalese including 180 in Kannada. Nagendra has left behind, in addition to his wife and a son, hundreds of melodious tunes one can cherish forever!