Sri Acharya Athreya,the sweetest lyricist of the Telugu cine world found his niche as an unrivalled poet pouring songs of matchless beauty in spontaneous flow for no less a period than half a century. He kept the millions of cine-goers spell-bound with the magic of his melodious lyrics from generation to generation. The lovers of literature, of song and music, and the lay-man in the street irrespective of their cultural background or social status, were transported into ethereal realms of perfect joy, listening to his most captivating songs. The Telugu people of all classes hours built an immortal shrine in their hearts as an expression of their love and gratitude to this ‘mana su kavi’.
The songs full of lyrical beauty and charm, enlivened with sentiments expressive of love in all its multifarious moods of self forgetful ecstasy, of the piercing pangs of pain caused by a temporary separation, of yearning desire to be one with the beloved and an infinite variety of moods, ranging from the topless heights of joy to the abysmal depths of despair and dejection. There is no mood or sentiment that the heart of man has experienced at one time or another, in his life’s variegated moods, that Athreya has left untouched. He touches the right chord at the right moment with the jugglery of his phrase, with tears of sorrows or joy welling up in the eyes of the listener, according as the mood of the movement prevails!
Athreya has left an indelible impress on the minds of the masses as well as of the class people as the sweetest lyricist that ever flourished in Telugu cine-field. Athreya means ‘the moon’ and the moon sheds the coolest and brightest rays on earth; this moon of a poet continually showers the rarest lyrics that soothe the heart even when it is laden with grief, awakened by “The sweetest song that tells of the saddest thought.”
This celebrated lyricist was born on May7, 1921 at Mangalampadu village in Nellore district to Smt. Seetamma and sri krishnama charyulu, the most blessed parents. Unfortunate as he was, he lost his mother when he was a child.
Acharya Athreya’s original name, as christened by his parents, was kilambi Venkata Narasimha Charyulu. And he came to be popularly known as Acharya Athreya. The poet takes up the second part of his name ‘acharya’ and adds to it the name of his Gothra, ‘athreya’ to make up his nom-de-plume or sobriquet.
An unfortunate incident that figured in his early life was that the maiden whom he loved so much, he could not marry. And he had to wed a young lady of his parents’ choice. Her name was Padmavathi. And it was solemnized on Feb 10th 1940.
And in the year 1943, Athreya was imprisoned by the then British government in 1942 for his active participation in the quit-India movement. And he redeemed him-self as an ardent patriot.
Even as a boy of fifteen, Athreya started writing poetry, in the traditional manner, strictly following the rules of prosody. He wrote his auto-biography in beautiful poetry and it won great appreciation from no less a poet than Viswantha Satyanarayana. The work was so sweet, that the great Telugu poet compared it to the delicious taste of cream of milk mixed with sugar. Achraya Athreya did great experiment in the field of drama as an actor, director and as writer and he won kudos from Sri M.Naghabhusanam and called him Andhra Ibban.Gowthamabudha,Ashoksamrat,Parivarthana, Vasthavam,Eenadu,N.G.O.,Viswasanthi,Kappalu, Bhayam,Manasu-Vayasu.The following are the plays written by Athreya and Fifteen playlets Aswa Ghoshudu,Aathmarpana,Evaru Donga,Okka Rupai, Otu Neekay,Antharyudham,Amthyarpana, Terachina Kallu, Pragathi, Maya, Varaprasadam Which are greatly appreciated by the public.
Sri K.S.Prakasa Rao the cine director, was very much fascinated by the dialogues scintillating with wit and commissioned sri Athreya to write dialogues and songs for the picture ‘Deeksha’ directed by Sri.K.S.Prakasa Rao. His first song when he made his debut into the cinema world was “ Porababu Po - Po e chudu e lokam pokada ...” and this song was sung by the melodious singer Sri M.S.Rama Rao and the music director was Sri Pendyala.
Athreya’s firm conviction was that a song or a piece of dialogue should be understood and thoroughly appreciated by the cine goers on the spot. And so, Athreya made his songs with words of popular usage. And there is felicity of diction coupled with the ease of poetic phrase in his lyrics. Ex: “ pellante pandillu,samdallu
Tappetlu taalaalu talambralu
Moode mullu yede adugulu
Motham kalipi noorellu”(Movie:Thrisulam) and he presents in vivid phrases before the spectator the whole atmosphere of a wedding very succinctly “ Navvina…yedchina kannille vastha e ye kanniti venkala yemundo telusuna…” (Movie: Moogamanasulu),
“Navvu Navvuku Teda untundi
Navve adhrustam Evarikuntundi
E kanneeraina Vechaga untundi”…(Movie:Chillara Devvullu) such eternal truths are embedded in his lovely lyrics.
“Anukunnamani jaragau anni
Anukolaydani aagavu konni
Anukovadamay manishipani”(Movie:Muralee Krishna) holds a mirror to the true sentiments of man. “Yedutivariki cheppaytanduke Neetulu vunnai”…(Movie:Premnagar) ,
unnollu poenolla teepiguruthulu”…(movie:Moogamanasulu)
” the songs and lyrics of Athreya may be classified in to Eight categories according to the various themes expressed in them. Love songs, songs of sorrow, patriotic songs, devotional songs, proletarian songs, songs about family, and children’s songs and lastly, songs of social criticism.
It was not an ease thing for Athreya to stand the competition in the rare field of composing lyrics when their were such stalwarts thre in the field as Tapee Dharma Rao , B.Rajanee Kantha Rao, Senior Samudrala etc. Athreya wrote to his credit about 2,000 songs and the last song written by him was for the film “ Premayudham” ‘Ee muvvala ganam…”, refrain.
Athreya is not only a writer of lyrics but also a powerful dialogue writer. Tapee Dharma Rao and Athreya wrote dialogues for the picture Deeksha and Sri K.S.Prakasa Rao made good use of the genius of Athreya not only as the writer of songs but also as a writer of sentimental dialogues.
Acarya Athreya was a unique wordsmith who is a pastmaster in moulding phrases to suit the delicate sentiments of characters. He is a perfect master in presenting complex thoughts in a felicitous manner. It was he who gave the right form and shape to the cine-script: and it was his habit to right at the top of the white sheet, “Srivigneswaraya namaha” before he started writing.
It was his usual practice to fold the sheet of paper in the middle and he used to write the dialogues on the left side in blue ink and on the right side action part in the red ink. He wrote dialogues for about 200 pictures. “Laila” was the last picture for which he wrote his dialogue.
Athreya was a multifaceted artist. He produced and directed the picture “ Vaagdanam ” and wrote stories for the pictures Runanubhandam, Desamante mattikadoy. Athreya and Mullapudi Venkata Ramana wrote dialogues for the famous picture Mooga Manasulu. Athreya and Sri V.Madhusudana Rao wrote the story of Dr.Anand. And for Vaagdanam picture, Athreya-Bollimuntha Sivarama Krishna, and for Todikodallu Adurthi Subba Rao garu. Prathyegathma and Athreya together composed the screen play for Satheesavithri and Adasha kutumbam. And Athreya - Adhurthi for Manchimanasulu, Athreya in collaboration with Jagannadham wrote the screen play for Kanna Talli; and as an actor Athreya played a significant role in
‘Kodenagu’ and Adarsham. He also acted as a guest artist in “Bhamakalapam.” And Athreya may be described as a modern Srinadhudu, since he enjoyed all the luxuries that life could offer him and like Srinadha kavi he also passed through acute penury during the last phase of his life.
Athreya is generally compared to Kannadasan of Tamil cine-field for their prolific production of lyrics. And sometimes they used to share each other’s views and for this reason that Athreya is called The Andhra Kannadasan.
Athreya was the recipient of many an award in the field of drama. It was on 1989 May 5 that Athreya was honoured by the Andhra Pradesh Open University with an honorary doctorate. For his unique contribution to Telugu cine- field, chiefly as a lyricist, he was also awarded the title of “ Kavitha Sudhanidhi ” in appreciation of his beautiful lyrics and dialogues.
This great cine-poet, the minion of the millions of cine-goers, has bean enshrined in the hearts of Telugu people as a sweet memory, had passed away on1989 September 13, at 10 pm in Madras.