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Bridging cultures

Bridging cultures
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Cultural fragrance now proliferates everywhere. There are many people, who turned as bridges of culture and making people dearer to each other. One...

Cultural fragrance now proliferates everywhere. There are many people, who turned as bridges of culture and making people dearer to each other. One interesting facet that is emerging in the process has been people of one region becoming cultural champions of another horizon.

The amazing diversity of Telugu heartland provides scope for such cultural bonding. The great grand-daughter of Gidugu Rammorthy Pantulu – one of the pillars of Movement for Colloquial Telugu, is now one such cultural emissary. Snehalatha Murali, who resides in Hyderabad has become a cultural envoy in more ways than one as she is proficient in the different cultures of Telugu landscape.

Felicitated recently in North Andhra, Hyderabad and also in San Francisco in the US; Snehalatha is the embodiment of cultural spirit. She was a cynosure at all the programmes and she received a title – “Janapada Kohinoor” from Telangana American Telugu Association (TATA) of the US.

Commemorating the 156th and 155th birth anniversaries of two legends of Telugu literature - Gurazada Appa Rao and Gidugu Rammorthy Pantulu- two organisations in Srikakulam and Vizianagaram - have given a clarion call not just to continue thrust on spoken Telugu but also strengthening cultural diversity. It might be recalled that Gurajada and Gidugu have spearheaded the movement for spoken Telugu in early 1900 and as a successor of literary grandeur, Snehalatha continues that legacy in a rather elegant and exquisite way.

“If Gurazada was the brain, Gidugu had been the implementer. Gurazada showed the path and Gidugu lighted it. But for them, things would have been certainly different in all respects,” quipped Snehalatha Murali.

A folk artiste par excellence, Snehalatha Murali has a unique art, which made her hugely popular. She conceived a programme called “Pelli Patalu” (Marriage songs), which she along with her troupe sings in weddings. The songs – mostly folk in nature – are ritual specific i.e. according to the exact ritual (jeelakarra bellam, appagintalu, banthata, etc)… She has given more than 3,000 performances and they are widely appreciated.

Another uniqueness in Snehalatha is the fact that she is the first woman artist who started popularising Bathukamma songs through public media. She was perhaps the first person, who sang Bathukamma songs in All India Radio (Akashvani) in the 1980s. She was the first artiste, who sang Bathukamma songs on Doordarshan in the late 1980s, when no one in the region even dreamt of it. Comprehending the inner beauty of the festival of flowers i.e. Bathukamma, she went around the world and popularised them well before the advent of Telangana state.

Going down the memory lane, Snehalatha said: “I feel proud in a way. As I have been carrying forward the rich legacy of my great grandfather, I wanted to leave my mark. Not only Bathukamma, I had even sung the folk songs of Rayalaseema region.

There I am regarded as an artiste, who conceived “Dampudu Patalu”. For me, there are no boundaries. I travel everywhere and sing songs of all hues at every possible occasion in India and abroad. But Bathukamma is a special one for me and I received many awards for my effort including the latest one – ‘Atmabandhu Award’ from Vision KCR Foundation.

Snehalatha has recently provided tunes for a social movie ‘7 to 4’ in which the title song was sung by Indi-pop star Usha Uthup. She earlier worked with Shyam Benegal, celebrated film director and provided music for short films and made hundreds of documentaries.

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