Film: Chinni Krishnudu (Telugu) (1989)
Producer: Vijaya Cine Creation’s
Singers: R.D. Burman, S.P. Balasubramaniam, S. Janaki
It’s interesting to see that Pancham’s regional output increased post 1985, which continued till 1993. This can be attributed to the reduced number of Hindi assignments he got in that period. Besides Bangla films, he also worked for south Indian Telugu and Tamil films during this time. It’s possible that the person to take him to the south Indian film industry was his favorite singer S.P. Balasubramaniam (SPB).
One such Telugu film for which Pancham composed music was Chinni Krishnudu. It had a fantastic range of songs based on a few of his hugely popular tunes. On one hand, it had “Natanee na deepam” (based on “Naa naa kaachhe esho na”), showing the all-round mimicking capabilities of SPB, and his fantastic duet with Asha Bhosle “Jeevitam spata saagar rupam” (“O sajan beet na jaaye saawan”); while on the other, it treated us to a softly romantic solo by S. Janaki in the form of “Mouname priyam” (based on the tune of “Jaane do mujhe”) and then the crescendo along “O gali vaanlo” (celebrating the separation theme of “Phire esho Onuradha”).
But one song that caught my fancy was “Mexico beachley,” a more or less original song. It’s a high-energy roller-coaster song sung by the three singers − SPB, S. Janaki and, hold your breath, Pancham himself! The song is about a father-in-law trying to persuade the hero to marry his daughter and, in the course of the persuasion, going to any level, even threatening to kill him or break his body parts.
Although I have said it’s a more or less original song (not a reuse of his earlier tunes), it does have shades of his earlier songs in parts. Here Pancham starts with a tribal-type yell with the chorus punching in between, and then a vocal catwalk taken over by the robust vocals of SPB, who attains the high pitch effortlessly and carries it in the entire mukhda.
The interludes too carry that high-voltage and volatile flavor with high-pitched violins surfing the bold rhythmic beats while being parallel to the mukhda tune in His distinct style. Pancham shows his genius when he inserts those desert violins that he used in “Haare na insaan.” Could he be referring to the cowboy-ish Mexican environment while doing this?
Comes the first antara to welcome Pancham again, this time giving a marriage proposal to the hero (SPB) and asking him about his discomfort while the latter shows his disapproval of Pancham’s proposal. S. Janaki joins the duo at the end of the antara in her typical south Indian style.
As is seen in many south Indian songs, the lyrics are loaded with English words − for example, SPB addressing RDB as Uncalu, and the use of words like marriage or exclamations like no, never!
The second interlude packs more action with the addition of whipping sounds, the choral punches in tribal style, the bold tabla beats and lengthy musical phrases interrupted by the punching violin phrases. All this effort aims to show the father-in-law turning crooked in the second antara, threatening to beat and burn the hero if he disapproves of his proposal; now the hero has to go on the defensive and reluctantly approve and do a naatee charami with the girl.
The video of this film eluded me for many years even after persistent and voluminous effort on my part to track it. Finally I got hold of the DVD of the movie recently. Most of the movie is shot in the USA and the video of this particular song turns out to be a tribal stage song filmed on the hero and a western lady.
But still that does not reduce my fascination toward the song, which remains peculiar for the fact that this is the only regional song sung by Pancham! This fact, therefore, makes the Telugu in me proud like anything.