Tollywood singers

Masreo G.K.Venkatesh


GKV was born in Hyderabad on 21st September 1927. His musical talents were discovered at a very young age—even as a child it is said he was appreciated by the Raja of Bobbili. His elder brother GKS Pathi taught him the Veena. GKV entered tfm as a bubbly teenager. He played the Veena for great MDs like SV Venkataraman, SM Subbiah Naidu and CR Subburaman.


Tollywood should be proud of this mastreo, Unfortunately his telent was not well recognised as much as it was by Tamil and Kannada Film Industry. Mastreo Ilayaraja worked as his assitant, Ilayaraja was very much influenced by GKV. There is no doubt that some of  Ilayaraja's songs sound like GKVs compostions.  If you are skeptical just listen to the song "Kanulalo ne roopam"  from the movie "Ravanude Ramudiathe" (ANR) which was composed by GKV(1979) and compare this with Ilayaraja's song "Neeve amara swarame" from "Gharshana"1988 (Karthik,Prabhu) you will appreciate how similar they are.It was towards the last years of the 60s that GKV took under his patronage a young talented musician called Raja. (Originally Daniel Rasiah, later to blossom into Ilaiyaraja) Raja, whose soul was soaked in music, had his skills polished and trained by Dhanraj Master, an acknowledged genius. GKV recognized the innate talents in him and admitted him in his troupe, where Raja quickly justified the trust that GKV placed in him. Another gifted musician who was assisting GKV.


GKV Marvelous Tleugu songs 

Poolu gusa gusa ladenani


Ravi varamake anadani  



Listen to his mind blowing Melodies

Ezhayin kovilai naadinaen’ is among the earliest songs in tfm in the waltz style—listen on to MLV and GKV having a blast!

 Mrogindi veena pade pade Hridayala lona........




‘Oru paadalai pala ragathil’ – SPB from Malligai Mohini-1979
Oka venuvu vinipinchenu anuraaga geethika (Telugu)

His Journey
GKV became a close friend of M.S.Viswanathan when they were both part of Subbiah Naidu’s troupe in the late 40s. Later they stayed in the same room in Jupiter Lodge in Madras . It was then that MSV bagged the chance to compose some songs for Genova. And when NSK offered an opportunity to MSV and TKR to compose music for Panam-1952, GKV naturally became an integral part of their troupe. MSV gave GKV a chance to sing in their very first film ‘Panam’.




Madras Pictures’ Panam is said to be Sivaji Ganesan’s second film to be released. Though it was a commercial disaster, MSV-TKR had acquitted themselves quite well for a debut—‘Theena moona kaana’- NSK, Engae Theduvaen- NSK, Manamudayaarae manithargal-CSJ, Kudumbathin vilakku-MLV, Panam irundhaale-TV Rathinam are all memorable songs.

As a Singer 

Singing was nothing new to GKV--after all, he began his career as a singer in Bangalore AIR even before entering films, and is also said to have lent his voice to some chorus songs in Meera when he was in SVV’s troupe. GKV went on to sing a few songs in later years, and always did justice to them. His voice had the flexibility to adapt to the varied moods that the situation demanded—the boisterous revelry in ‘Kannodu vin pesum jaadai’ (Kavalai Illatha Manithan- along with TS Bagavathi, with ALR and Jamunarani adding luster to the chorus), the philosophy tinged with pathos in ‘Nilai maarinaal gunam maaruvaan’ (Paava Manippu), the palpable dejection in ‘Kanavae kaathal vaazhvae’ (Senthamarai), the impish romance of ‘yaen mama kovama’ (Thendral Veesum, with LRE), the irreverent shrug at life in ‘Sondhamumillai oru bandhamum illai’ (Hello Mr.Zamindar), the rustic uncouthness in the ‘maanathilae meenirukka’ prelude to SJ’s ‘Udhayam varugindrathae’ (Kavikkuyil)- these are some unforgettable instances where GKV startles you with the breathtaking range of his voice.

GKV thus become a permanent fixture in the troupe of MSV-TKR from their very first film. He was given due credit as their assistant in the titles in their films in those early years. His undeniable talents could not be hidden under wraps for long. Even as early as 1952, he composed music independently for a Malayalam film, which was also dubbed in Tamil as Nadigai.

GKV in Kannada Flim Industry 
Even though Tamil Film Industry wasn’t yet ready to entrust him with independent music composition, Kannada film makers were quick to discover the spark in him, and eagerly harnessed his talents. The titles of the 1955 film Sodari starring Rajkumar (his second film) and Pandaribai had the credit for Music being shared by HR Padmanabha Shastry & GKV. The following year saw GKV enjoying a stupendous success with the music of Viswakala Chitra’s Ohileshwara (stg. Rajkumar & Sriranjini). GKV also gave PBS a marvelous break in kannada film Industry. (“GKV was the person who launched me as a successful singer in Kannada”, acknowledges a grateful PBS).


GKV soon became a prolific MD in Kannada, and along with TG Lingappa and Vijayabhaskar, set new standards of film music there. His works in Haribhaktha-1956, Anna Thangi-1958, Jagajyothi Basaveshwara, Dharma Vijaya, Mahishasura Mardini-all 1959, Ranadhira Kanteerava, Dasavathara, Sree Shaila Mahatme-all 1960, Kanntheredu Nodu, Kaivaara Mahaatme-both 1961, Bhoodaana, Karuneye Kudumbada Kannu - both 1962, Kanya Ratna, Gowri, Kulavadhu, Malli Madhuve, Kalitaaru Henne- all 1963, won acclaim.

In Tamil Film Industry

GKV got an opening in tfm in 1964 to compose music for Thirumagal Films’ Magale Un Samathu. (Dir: PA Kumar) Though the film starring Anandan & Rajasri was a massive flop, GKV’s songs showed the stuff he was made of. ‘Anbil aaduthae’ (PBS/PS), ‘Unga manasu oru dhinusu’ (Jamunarani), ‘Kadhai ondru sollava’ (PS), Nallathukku kaalamillai (TMS), ‘Annamidum karangalinaal’ (Soolamangalam Rajalakshmi/LRE), ‘Thatha thatha’ (Manorama/LRE), ‘Sirayilae oru kuraiyillae’ (TA Mothi/ SCK), ‘Aavogulamiyon ’(TMS/TV Rathinam) were the assorted array of songs that the album comprised of.

Some of his glittering diamonds in Tamil

1.Oru paadalai pala ragathil- SPB. Lyrics: Kannadasan
2.Naan ketten deva gaanam- SJ, with a humming by Poornachandar. Lyrics: Kannadasan
3.Pattathu raja- TMS/ B Vasantha. Lyrics: Pulamaipithan
4.Kaadhal oru- SPB/SJ. Lyrics: Kannadasan
5.Sringara sangeethame - Poornachandar/SJ. Lyrics: Kannadasan
6.Sugam sugam- SJ. Lyrics: Kannadasan
7.Megangalae ingu vaarungale- SPB. Lyrics: Pulamaipithan



The same year, Anandan himself produced a film under the banner Anandan Movies. And he assigned to GKV the music score of this film Naanum Manithan Thaan (Dir: AS Rao). And though this film too (Stg. Anandan, Chandrakantha, Pandi Selvaraj, Sheela) sank without a trace, GKV came up with some lingering numbers like ‘Vaa vaa vaa en thalaiva’ (TA Mothi/SJ), ‘Kaatru varum kaalamondru’ (PBS/SJ), ‘Naanum manithan thaanada’(TMS) and ‘Indha indha nillu’ (TMS/LRE).

The following year saw only a solitary Tamil film coming GKV’s way, and that too was because it was produced and directed by the renowned GV Iyer, with whom GKV was working with in a number of Kannada films. GV Iyer Productions’ Thaayin Karunai starred Kalyankumar and a Kannada actress called Vandana, and had some wonderful songs- ‘Netru nadanthathu’ (ALR/SJ), ‘Poonthendral isaipaada’ (PBS- when we mentioned this classic song, PBS closed his eyes in nostalgia, and said proudly that he had sung the Kannada original too for GKV- ‘Bhaa thaayi Bharathiye’ from Thaayi Karulu-1962), ‘Oru kodi paadalukkum’ (SG) and ‘Neram kaalam sariyaa irundhaal’ (Jamunarani).

Unfortunately for GKV, all these three films were not commercial successes, and the merciless gates of Kodambakkam were closed once again for this gifted composer.

However, he continued creating immortal melodies in Kannada films, where he was much sought after by the top banners of the day. Thumbida Koda, Nanna Kartavya-both 1964, Sarvagyanamoorthi, Sati Savitri-both 1965, Killadi Ranga, Madhumaalathi-both 1966, Parvathi Kalyana, Rajshekhara, Rajadurgada Rahasya, Immadi Pulikeshi-all 1967, Jedare Bale, Manasakshi, Goa Dalli CID 999- all 1968, Operation Jackpot Nalli CID 999- 1969 are all noteworthy albums, each one of which has songs that are repeatedly listened to with pleasure to this day.

GKV pulled off a coup of sorts in 1966, when he roped in none other than the revered Pandit Bhimsen Joshi to sing for the Kannada film Sandhya Raga. The song ‘Nambidhe ninna naadha devatheye’ sparkles as a brilliant instance of pristine Hindustani classical music in South Indian film music.


It was only after a long wait that Deivanayagi Films’ Sabatham- 1971 brought GKV back into reckoning in tfm. The film starring KR Vijaya (produced by KRV too?), Ravichandran,TK Bagavathi (in a dual role), Nagesh, Anjalidevi and others was directed by P Madhavan. In Chennai, it proved a modest success in Paragon, Crown & Bhuvaneswari theatres where it was released, and did brisk business elsewhere too. It was a fairly engrossing tale of how KRV, assisted by Ravichandran and Nagesh, avenges her father’s death and her own humiliation at the hands of the wily TKB. The songs were ‘Thoduvathenna thendralo malargalo’ (SPB), ‘Aatathai aadu puliyudan aadu’ (ALR/LRE/GKV), ‘Aadum alaigalil’ (SJ) and ‘Nenjukku needhi undu aiyanaarae’ (SG/LRE).

‘Thoduvathenna thendralo malargalo’ showcases GKV in his elements—the riveting prelude consisting of those dainty string bits that are repeated throughout the song, the masterful way in they are seamlessly interwoven into the fascinating interludes, while the interludes themselves are so unpredictable and enticing in their progression-- And SPB brings such a cajoling mood to the lines, that you just have to fall in love with the song- listen to his voice beam in the end, and the longing that he
expresses, almost akin to a wistful sigh, in the short humming that leads back to the pallavi. Class!

Listen here:

And to think that this song, that conjures up such a spectacular panorama on a listen, was so disgustingly crass and unimaginative in it’s filming - Ravichandran enjoying a kinathadi kuliyal, singing and dreaming of his love, and our Punnagai Arasi stealing surreptitious glances at him, with her trademark bashful smile. P Madhavan seemed to have learned very little from his years of apprenticeship under Sridhar!
















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