No Mere Singer

K. Kumara Sekhar, Elugu
Indian Express, 14.2.1974

Editors note: I have no clue who this gentleman is; This material courtesy of Dr.K.V.Rao. Transcribed by Gopi

Tributes paid to Ghantasala Venkateswarea Rao, on his death, praise his "Melodious Voice", but these not only sound inadequate, but also fail to grasp the truth of the matter, since he was "no mere singer" but a "true poet" who could comprehend and did give expression to the deepest feelings of love, pity, joy, suffering, piety, happiness and bitterness in a manner no one else could, or did. One cannot help feeling that it would have been hardly possible for him to sing on all those varied themes with such intensity of fervor and likeness to reality, and precision in apprehension, had he not himself lived and experienced these basic emotions inwardly, in as great a manner as any of the great poets ever had. This naturally gave an indication of the purity and richness of his heart and mind.

Enlightened listeners to his songs could not help feelings that he had a mature and distinctive "philosophy of life", which he reflected in his songs, and tried to express in a way that words and phrases themselves can never. No wonder many of his songs though sung as part of a film story, have however, managed to acquire an independent stature and meaning of their own, tearing themselves free from the original cinematographic context, in which they were sung. And the people too recognizing the fact, did not tire of listening to him more often outside the theatres than inside them.

His impact on both the educated and uneducated Telugu people had been so much, and had brought about such qualitative changes in the day to day "inward" life of the people here, that we can safely assert that life in Andhra today would have been much less exciting and somewhat "drab", but for him, for with him had begun a new era in the emotional life of the Andhras, opening up as he did to them hidden treasures in their range of feelings, which lay either dormant or unperceived till then. New vistas of imaginative experience were laid bare to the Telugu people, who were till then looking up to Hindi film music to provide it.

The wonder is that in spite of his extensive use of his art for a commercial purpose, it was never degraded in quality, or devoid of "genuine inspiration". It menas to say, he throve well in an industry, uncorrupted by its many evil influences. And in spite of the large number of songs he sang, there were no signs of fatigue or disinterest till the end came.

In his death, we are not just losing one more playback artiste. We have lost a "bard", who had awakened an entire people to the heightened range of sensibilities in feeling they were capable of. To think of the Telugu people without him is virtually impossible. No other singer is therefore likely to successfully fill the void he has left. Undoubtedly he had elevated the status of the so-called light musician or non-classical musician to the level he had all along aspired for in his dreams.

Along with his own quest for truth and beauty, Ghantasala brought about a basic degree of "self realization" among others of his realm. Outwardly, in his unassuming physical appearance one could not perhaps grasp how much of the "spirit of music" was inlaid in him. But the course of his life did make it patent enough for all to see.

Though many may think that his music would live for all time after his death, though the living voice of this dead bard may continue to enthrall us, it would not be untainted now with a certain "otherworldliness" about it that it is now likely to gain. The trouble with this particular singer is that we have not yet finished with him, and our thirst for the kind of intelligent and "immortal", refined creative and "educative music" that came from him is as yet unsatiated, though some may think we had enough of it.