Music College In His Native Sankaraguptam A Fit Tribute to Mangalampalli Balamuralikrishna
A music college in the memory of legendary Carnatic composer Mangalampalli Balamuralikrishna at his Sankaraguptam village in East Godavari district will be an apt lyrical memorial to mark the services the maestro rendered to the music world.
More so, as the decision to establish the college is that of Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu. Balamuralikrishna had got into a spat with the CM’s father-in-law, NT Rama Rao, way back in 1983, when the latter abolished various cultural academies in Andhra Pradesh, including the Sangeet Natak Akademi, in an austerity measure.
This angered the music maestro so much that he vowed not to set foot in Andhra Pradesh unless the NTR Government revoked abolition of the academies. That did not happen and led to an impasse between Balamuralikrishna and NT Rama Rao.
However, bridges were built later, a few akademis were revived and even the music maestro was invited for a facilitation function at the Ravindra Bharati in Hyderabad. Not only did NTR facilitate Balamuralikrishna, but also sat through the concert that followed, where the maestro presented several of his renditions.
Here’s a quote from an interview that Balamuralikrishna then gave: “There was nothing personal between me and NTR. We were good friends and I sang more songs for him in his mythological films than for any other actor. But I had to do something when the government announced the move (of cancelling cultural academies) and I did it.”
The legendary singer, awarded a Padma Vibhushan in 1991, passed away on November 22, 2016, in Chennai at the age of 86. The Andhra Pradesh Government decided to establish a music college in his memory to mark his 87th birth anniversary on July 6. Its curriculum will follow the rich traditions of the classical Carnatic system and its distinctive traits.
Chandrababu Naidu’s choice of the college’s location at Sankaraguptam in East Godavari district will be a fit tribute if the curriculum is nuanced than nostalgic, reviving the traditions that Balamuralikrishna stood for. A characteristic of his musical journey has been his non-conformism, tryst with experimenting and immense creativity. The ragas he invented, like Ganapathi, Sarvashri, Mahati and Lavangi, are proof of his breaking into new frontiers. He has more than 400 compositions to his credit and has also sung for movies in Telugu, Tamil and Kannada. Balamuralikrishna is also one of the maestros who figure in “Mile sur mera tumhara…” of the 80s, which continues to ring in even today.