Exclusive : Mittapalli Surendra Interview

Mittapalli Surendra proved to be an intelligent kid when he began analysing his strengths and limitations even when he was in school. This helped him follow his passion which later became his career. Surendra hails from a small village in Warangal called Vellampalli near Bhupalpally. He is from an agricultural family and his father would work in the fields and run a ration shop for a living. The youngest of the four siblings in the family, he had always been fascinated by songs since childhood. In a chat with Klapboardpost.com, he says, “Before writing my first song, I have been habituated to listening to music, not just me but the entire family loves listening to music. This mere listening helped me in writing songs, be it love songs, private albums, naxalism, folk etc. When I was in the sixth standard, the song Kashmiri LoyaLo Kanyakumari Lo made me think. My Telugu teacher Allam Kanakaiyya explained to me the real meaning; he said that Kanyakumari is an unwed woman and compared her feelings to the depth in Kashmir valley. It made me think about poetry. I hardly read books, but I listened to literature and dabbled with weeklies and magazines.”

His first song is “NavaMasalu..” and he was twenty years old at that time. His sister in law was expecting a child which was why he wrote something about it. Who helped him make a decision to focus on writing? “My cousin Naveen encouraged me after seeing my literature and got the songs recorded. At that time I had no goals, I just got connected to the lyrics I was writing. I realised people started treating me differently after the song got recorded. The change in treatment made me feel good and I decided to continue this. If we want to do something, we check if this is going to help us. When I began writing I too didn’t know that it would make me reach this far. I checked if Annamayya, Vemana, Pothana and other saints like Thyagaraja and our recent achiever AR Rehman …if they all studied in the university. Having noted that all these great men are gifted and nature has blessed them, I resolved to write. There are people who are more learned than KCR but how did KCR become a CMr? Education is useful for getting jobs, be it medicine, engineering, teaching or any other profession but the energy that nature gives which is called art categorises us into a different level. I’m the first lyricist in the family. In the beginning, none in the family understood what was going on. My father’s friend who is a revolutionary poet told him not to worry about his son (me). He added that he hasn’t understood his son but the society has already done that. He is in their good books . My father got the confidence and believed I could do something after listening to what his friend said,” says Surendra.

Telangana State as such never lacked Telangana literature or films. It is a misconception that Telangana was ridiculed in films. It was always given importance. Telangana Sakuntala who was from Maharashtra upheld the honour of Telanagna by showing its power and affection. One example is the Botany Pata from Shiva wherein Bhavani, a character speaks the dialect says the writer. He continues, “Once upon a time there was a discrimination but the language was never undermined. C Narayana Reddy is a classic example. Telangana stories are floating now because of the business demand for it, tomorrow it will be some other dialect, some other area. Some days you see faction stories, some days love stories..it all changes and change is inevitable. I sang one number in Rajanna but I’m usually known for writing lyrics.” Mittapalli concurs that his songs are inspirational and are colloquial in nature. To that he responds, “Whether I sing a song, or someone writes a news article, it has a quality of getting connected with the people. It is not a conscious effort, it comes naturally. Even if we don’t have a hold on anything but if you yearn for something and work hard on it consistently…you accomplish someday because of the spadework and persistence. I am blessed..i will continue writing for cinema.”

Do directors tell him the entire story or just explain the situation for writing a song? “The directors spend one year to six months on their story and know the situations which need a song. They need not tell us the entire story, it is enough if they explain the situation and give us a tune. If we grab the situation and give them the lines then and there itself, it helps otherwise someone takes the opportunity. This is why a poet needs to read and observe more, watch films to upgrade. We need a weekly break for recharging and getting clarity.” Ever faced a writer’s block? “It is natural. My poetry should be useful for someone or situation. Writing for ourselves is not an issue at all, we can write songs on daily things that are related to us. What is important is what the other person needs.” All stories are the same, how does a lyricist bring a visible change in the song? Mittapalli signs off, “In Chor Bazar I was asked to write about a plait. Usually people write it in a romantic way, I did it without using the valu jada word and other regular terminology. Their point should be fresh, the tune should be good. In this case words came reeling on its own. Also one of the prerequisites to write a lyric is, the story should be of my liking.”…Y.Sunita Chowdhary

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