Some lyricists are known more for their translations than churning out ‘straight’ songs despite the additional constraint of lip movements. Vennelakanti is a name some of you might hazily recollect as he appears in rolling credits of many dubbed films. Even his son, Shashank (who goes by Shashank Vennelakanti) is now a regular and so, there is really no excuse if you are a Telugu movie buff and claim ignorance on this name. It was hard for me to choose a song which represented Vennelakanti’s work in entirety (may very well be impossible) and instead settled for a cult classic. TV5’s Paata once had him on the hot seat and you can watch the whole half-hour segment here if you are interested in the span of his career.
When I refer to ‘Anjali Anjali’, people somehow first recollect the title song of the 1990 classic Anjali starring Raghuvaran (obligatory intro sound effect – which IIRC first appeared in the movie ‘Kadhalan‘ or ‘Premikudu’). That was penned down by another legend who unhesitatingly handed down his trade secrets to Vennelakanti and hence, their similarities in writing styles and the confusion which it entails.
‘Anjali Anjali’ from Duet might not be that famous for its lyrics, but it is very much so for its beautiful, sax-driven tune. Carnatic enthusiasts might be familiar with Dr. Kadri Gopalnath, who was the pioneer of the saxophone in Carnatic music and the opening riff of this song is definitely one of his more popular works. Coupling that with an absolutely melodious composition is A R Rahman, who shot to stardom (atleast partially) with this 90s hit. Bollywood in fact requested a reuse of this melody in ‘Kabhi Na Kabhi’ and this is a quintessential example of how important the lyrics and the visuals are for the success of a song. The link to the Hindi version is here and look how effortlessly it was decimated and stripped of meaning 😀
This was in fact one of the last movies of the lead actress Meenakshi Seshadri and left many wondering about the reason for her abrupt withdrawal from the film industry. She did make a brief appearance in the show Movers and Shakers a few years later (link) and seems to have moved on to more challenging roles – being a wife and a mother.
అంజలి అంజలి పుష్పాంజలి
పూవంటి పదములకు పుష్పాంజలి
ముద్దైన పెదవులకు మోహాంజలి
కలహంస నడకలకు గీతాంజలి
కనరాని నగవులకు కవితాంజలి
అంజలి = the name of the female protagonist (literal meaning is ‘salutation’)
The alliteration really is what makes the song linger in our heads. I’m not sure about the word ‘మోహాంజలి’ – the other last words are different forms of salutations (Through songs, flowers or poems) and haven’t come across the usage of it anywhere else
కలహంస = mute swans. The name doesn’t sound that glorious in English though
నగవు = smile
కనరాని నగవులు – It most likely means ‘Smiles which cannot be recreated’
‘Anjali! Anjali! A offering of flowers to you!
A salutation of flowers to the words emanating from you,
A salutation of lust(?) to those alluring lips
A salutation through a song for your gait as graceful as a mute swan
A poetic salutation to the smiles which cannot be recreated’
నిన్నదాక నువ్వు నేను ఇరువురం ఎవరనీ
కమ్మని బంధం ఇలా తెలిపెను ఒకటని
కడలిని పడు వానలా కలిసిన మది ఇది
కరిగిన సిరి మోజులా కథ ఇది నా చెలి
ఎదురుగ తొలి స్వప్నం తొణికినది
ఎదలో మధు కావ్యం పలికినది
అంజలి అంజలి వలపుల నా చెలి
ఇరువురు = both (ఇరువురము – both of us)
కడలి = sea
తొణకు = spill
The last line is definitely a filler and I had initially expected it to be a product of overfitting to lip movements. But the video doesn’t have a close-up of faces during any of its occurrences, something which left me puzzled.
‘Till yesterday, both of us never knew each other
This gentle bond is however conveying we are one and the same.
Like the drizzle which blends into the sea, our minds merged
Like a freshly cast gold ornament, my story is being shaped
In front of me is the first dream to ever come true
My heart has uttered a song akin to nectar
అంజలి అంజలి వలపుల నా చెలి (Filler…definitely!)’
కన్నుల సంకేతమే కలలకు తొలకరి.
వెన్నెల జలపాతమే వలపుకు తదుపరి
గుండెలో సంగీతమే కురిసినదెందుకో
కోయిల పాటే ఇలా పలికినవి ఇందుకో
చెలువుగ ఎద మారే మధు వనిగా
అమవస నిశి మారె వెన్నెలగా
అంజలి అంజలి ఇది హృదయాంజలి
నీ ప్రేమ లాహిరికి పుష్పాంజలి
నీ గాన మాధురికి గీతాంజలి
ఎద దోచు నవ్వులకు నటనాంజలి
కవి అయిన నీ మదికి కవితాంజలి
తొలకరి = the first rain of the seasons
తదుపరి = thereafter (what follows it)
జలపాతము = waterfall
చెలువు = gracefully
మధువని = forest of Madhuca tree
నిశి = night (నిశిరాత్రి is used to emphasize a dark night)
లాహిరి = intoxication
‘The signal of the eyes is the first shower of dreams.
And a beam of moonlight, akin to a waterfall is what trails.
Music has filled my heart suddenly.
And that is why you have sung the cuckoo’s melody.
Gracefully, my heart has transformed into a forest of Madhuca.
Pitch black darkness has turned into a full moon night
Anjali! Anjali! This is a salutation straight from my heart.
A salutation of flowers to the intoxication of your love.
A salutation of tunes to the pleasantness of your songs.
A salutation of dances to the smiles which steal hearts.
This poem is a salutation to your poetic heart.’
అంజలి నీ చూపులో వెన్నెల వెల్లువే
అంజలి నా ఊపిరి పలికెను పల్లవే
కన్నుల నువ్వు లేనిదే కలలే రావులే
నా మది నువ్వు లేనిదే కవితే లేదులే
తెలిసెను నువ్వే నా మనసువని
మోజుకు నెలవైన వలపువని
అంజలి అంజలి వలపుల నా చెలి
వెల్లువ = flood
పల్లవి = chorus
నెలవు = abode
‘Anjali! In your gaze, there is a flood of moonlight.
Anjali! What my breath sings is a chorus (for you)
Dreams are away from reach when you away from my sight.
Without you, there is no poem which can come from my heart.
I know that you are my mind.
I know that you are the love which is the abode of desire
అంజలి అంజలి వలపుల నా చెలి (filler, again!)’