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Saluri Rajeswara Rao (b. 1922 - d. 25 October 2000) is famous Music composer for South Indian Films. He was born in Sivaramapuram village near Salur in Vizianagaram district (erstwhile Srikakulam district), Andhra Pradesh, India. His father, Sanyasi Raju, was a famous mridangam player for the concerts of Dwaram Venkataswamy Naidu and was also a lyricist.

Early career

His tryst with cinema came unexpectedly in the form of a talent-scouting Huchins Recording Company to his native place Vizianagaram in 1934. A child prodigy, he could identify the ragas at the tender age of four and by the time he was seven, he started giving stage performances. Huchins spotted "master" Rajeshwara Rao and took him to Bangalore along with his father. They recorded "Bhagawat Gita" in Rajeawara Rao's voice. P.V.Das and Gudavalli Ramabramham, Film Producers, visited Bangalore, and impressed by his singing ability, brought him to Madras. They cast him as Lord Krishna in their "Sri Krishna Leelalu" in 1934. The film was released the next year (1935) and Rajeshwara Rao became a household name all over Andhra Pradesh. Later he played the role of "Abhimanyu" in "Maya Bazar"(1936).

He went to Calcutta (now Kolkata) to act in "Keechaka Vadha". He met such stalwarts as Kundan Lal Saigal and Pankaj Mullick. He became a disciple of Saigal and learned Hindustani music for a year. He also learnt to play the sitar and the surbahar. He had already mastered playing the tabla, dholak, and miridangam, later the piano, harmonium, mandolin and the electric guitar too. By this time he had acquired the knowledge of orchestration, of how to mix the sounds of different instruments.

Music Director
He returned to Madras in 1938 and 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 with "Jayaprada". He continued with his acting in "Balanagamma" and "Illalu" in which he acted opposite his famous singing partner, Rao Balasaraswati Devi.

When He entered the industry there was no playback system. The Actors used to sing and act at the same time with the orchestra in the background unseen by the camera. While he was doing "Illalu" the playback system had come into vogue.

Rajeshwara Rao showed thru his private records how light music should be set in Telugu films. "Thummeda Oka saari", "Kopamela Radha", "Podarintilona", "Rave Rave Koyila", "Challa Gaalilo" "Paata Paduma Krishna" all of which his father has written. Rajeshwara Rao, through these songs, set a new trend in light music in Telugu.

Rajeshwara Rao's most rewarding assignments came from Gemini, which he joined in 1940 and lasted for a decade. After leaving Gemini, he got an offer to provide music for B.N.Reddy's "Malleswari" (1950). It was a sensational music hit. Then came "Vipranarayana", "Missamma" and a host of other musical hits, more than a hundred of them in Tamil and Telugu and a few in Kannada. When Vijaya's "Missamma" was made into "Miss Mary" in Hindi, Hemantha Kumar provided the music. He changed all the tunes, but retained one - "Brindavanamum Nandakumaranum" which Hemantha liked so much that he took permission to retain it in the Hindi version - an instance of one master's tribute to another.

Among the classical ragas, Rajeswara Rao likes Bhimplas, Sindhu Bairavi, Kafi, Kalyani, Pahad, and Malkauns, which he has used most in his songs.

His two assistants for over four decades Rajagopal and Krishnan, both well versed in classical music, have proved an asset to him. s-rao-p

Family Members

Music flows in Rajeshawara Rao's family. His elder brother S. Hanumantha Rao was a music director in the Kannada and Telugu. His eldest son, Ramalingeswara Rao is well known piano and electric organ player in the South. His second son, Poornachandra Rao, is a popular guitarist. His third and fourth sons, Vasu Rao and Koteswara Rao are well-known music directors. Koteswara Rao (Koti) has formed a team with Somaraju (son of veteran music director T.V.Raju) as Raj-Koti and the duo was the most popular team in Telugu film music for quite some time before they split up and started composing independently. Today, Koti is a well known music director in Telugu film industry.


Rajeshwara Rao was awarded the honorary doctorate "Kalaprapoorna" in 1979 by the Andhra University. He was appointed "Asthana Vidwan" by Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams, during which period he composed music for Annamacharya Keerthanas sung by Ghantasala. He was "Kalaimaamani" award winner by Tamil Nadu Iyal Isai Nataka Mandram. He was awarded the prestigious Raghupathi Venkaiah Award by the Government of Andhra Pradesh for his outstanding contribution to Telugu cinema in 1992.

Movies Acted and/or Composed Music
He acted in few films like Sri Krishna Leelalu (1935), Maya Bazaar (1936), Jayaprada (1939) and Illalu (1940)

He composed music to some popular and very successful and memorable Telugu movies like:

* Jayaprada (1939),
* Chandralekha
* Illalu (1940),
* Apavadu (1941),
* Bala Nagamma (1942),
* Chenchu Lakshmi (1943),
* Bhishma (1944),
* Paaduka Pattabhishekam (1945),
* Ratna Mala (1947),
* Vindya Rani (1948),
* Aahuti (1950),
* Apurva Sahodarulu (1950),
* Mangala (1951),
* Malleswari (1951),
* Navvite Navaratnalu (1951),
* Priyuralu (1952),
* Pempudu Koduku (1953),
* Raju Peda (1954),
* Vipra Narayana (1954),
* Missamma (1955),
* Bhale Ramudu (1956),
* Charana Dasi (1956),
* Maya Bazaar (1957),
* Chenchu Lakshmi (1958),
* Appu Chesi Pappu Koodu (1959),
* Bhakta Jayadeva (1961),
* Iddaru Mitrulu (1961),
* Bharya Bhartalu (1961),
* Bhishma (1962),
* Aaradhana (1962),
* Chaduvukunna Ammayilu (1963),
* Puja Phalam (1964)
* Bobbili Yuddham (1964),
* Manchi Manishi (1964),
* Amara Shilpi Jakkana (1964),
* Mairavana (1964),
* Doctor Chakravarti (1964),
* Desa Drohulu (1964),
* Dorikite Dongalu (1965),
* Palnati Yuddham (1966),
* Sangita Lakshmi (1966),
* Aatma Gauravam (1966),
* Pula Rangadu (1967),
* Bhakta Prahlada (1967),
* Vasanta Sena (1967),
* Bangaru Panjaram (1968),
* Aatmiyulu (1969),
* Aadarsa Kutumbam (1969),
* Chitti Chellelu (1970),
* Pavitra Bandham (1971),
* Amayakuralu (1971),
* Bala Bhararam (1972),
* Chakradhari (1976),
* Kurukshetram (1977),
* Radhakrishna (1978)
* Tandrapaparayudu (1986)

Visits Abroad

He visited United States of America and Performed in Telugu Association of North America meeting and Telugu Literary and Cultural Association (TLCA) in 1981.

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