Upendra Kumar

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Upendra Kumar
File:UpendraKumarImg.jpg
Background information
Born(1941-07-18)18 July 1941
Madras, Madras Presidency, British India
OriginOrissa, India
Died24 January 2002(2002-01-24) (aged 60)
Bangalore, India
GenresFilm score, theatre
Occupation(s)Composer, music director, instrumentalist
Years active1966–2002

Upendra Kumar (18 July 1941 – 24 January 2002) was an Indian composer who predominantly worked in Kannada and Odia films. He was known for his strong association with Rajkumar and his family and scored some of his career best compositions for the films featuring Rajkumar and his sons. He had scored for 210 films including Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Tulu films.[1]

Early life[edit]

Kumar originally hailed from Digapahandi, a town in the present-day Odisha State of India.[2] He was born in 1941 in Madras (now Chennai) in British India to a Telugu-speaking family. His father, Lakshman Swamy was an astrologer. Kumar studied up to seventh Grade and shifted towards music learning with the help of his uncle, Apparao. He underwent rigorous training in Hindustani classical, Western instrumental and Indian string instruments. He graduated with a bachelor's degree in Indian classical music, Odia music and sitar from the Uthkala College of Music and Dance. Upon completion of his graduation, he left for Madras looking for opportunities.[3]

Career[edit]

Kumar (right) with S. P. Balasubrahmanyam (center) and Sangeetha Katti (left) during a recording.

Once in Madras, Kumar took music classes in vocals and the sitar. An impressed film director Y. R. Swamy, with his "teaching methodology and his flair for music", signed him to score for his 1966 film Katari Veera, which had Rajkumar playing the lead role. Two tracks from the soundtrack album, "Chengu Chengendu Haaruva" and "Haayaada Ee Sangama" became popular.[3]

As a composer, Kumar blended Odia folk music in Kannada film soundtrack. Songs from films for which he scored that became popular included Sipayi Ramu (1972), Premada Kanike (1976), Shankar Guru (1978), Dharmasere (1979), Ravichandra (1980), Kaamana Billu (1983), Ratha Sapthami (1986), Nanjundi Kalyana (1989), Hrudaya Haadithu (1991) and Jeevana Chaitra (1992). Kumar frequently collaborated with Rajkumar who playback-sung many songs for films that mostly starred himself in the lead roles, and picturised on him. Popular numbers of this combination included "Chinna Baalalli", "Love Me or Hate Me" and "Cheluveya Nota Chenna" from Shankar Guru, "Idhu Rama Mandira" from Ravichandra, "Indu Aananda" from Kaamana Billu, "Lakshmi Baaramma" and "Manavanaagi Huttidamele" from Jeevana Chaitra, "Naliyuthaa" from Hrudaya Haadithu and "Saptapadi Idu Saptapadi" from Saptapadi (1992). Other collaborations included with singers C. Aswath ("Negilahidida" from Kaamana Billu), Manjula Gururaj ("Olage Seridare Gundu" from Nanjundi Kalyana)[3] and S. P. Balasubrahmanyam, who also sang many non-film devotional songs composed by Kumar.[4] "Naadamaya" from Jeevana Chaitra fetched Rajkumar the National Film Award for Best Male Playback Singer.[5] Lyrics for most tracks of the Upendra Kumar–Rajkumar combination were written by Chi. Udayashankar.[6]

The mandolin and the sitar were prominently used in Kumar's instrumentation, and he was particularly fond of Kafi raga with melodies deriving from that scale. "Idu Yaaru Bareda Katheyo" from Premada Kanike was based on this raga.

Kumar won the Karnataka State Film Award for Best Music Director three times (for Nanjundi Kalyana, Hrudaya Haadithu and Jeevana Chaitra) before stopped composing for films in the mid- to late-1990s. His health deteriorated during this time and died in 2002 with the Kannada film Vishwamithra (2001) being his last work. Srikanth Srinivasa of Deccan Herald, in a tribute, wrote of Kumar's last days, "With the advent of new wave music director, Upendra Kumar was relegated to the background and found himself out of work and forgotten by the Kannada film industry. Besides, he has scored music for Dharma Devathe which was released recently. He has also scored music for Dr Rajkumar's private devotional albums."[3]

Work in Odia films[edit]

Alongside Kannada, Kumar notably worked also in Odia films and scored for more than 25 films. They included Dharitri (1972), Mana Akasha (1974), Punarmilana (1977) and Alibha Daga (1980). A book titled Sajala Smruti was released in 2009 in memory of Kumar's work in Odia films.[2]

Personal life[edit]

Kumar was married to H. P. Geetha, sister of Kannada film actress H. P. Saroja.[3]

Death[edit]

Upendra Kumar died on 24 January 2002 of jaundice in Bangalore, aged 60.

Awards[edit]

Discography[edit]

Kannada[edit]

Year Film Title Notes
1966 Katari Veera Debut film as a composer
1967 Muddu Meena
1969 Ade Hrudaya Ade Mamathe
Chowkada Deepa
1970 Hasiru Thorana
Namma Mane
Paropakari
1971 Hennu Honnu Mannu
1972 Sipayi Ramu
1973 Thriveni
1975 Namma Oora Devaru
Nanjunda Nakkaga
Aashirvada
1976 Premada Kanike
1978 Shankar Guru
Suli
Aathma Shakthi
1979 Mangala
Dharmasere
1980 Ravichandra
Hrudaya Deepa
Manjina There
Nyaya Neethi Dharma
1981 Prachanda Putanigalu
Maha Prachandaru
Shreeman
1982 Andada Aramane
Mareyalagada Kathe
Praya Praya Praya
1983 Kaamana Billu
Gandharvagiri
1984 Onti Dhwani
Hennina Sowbhagya
Apoorva Sangama
Ayyappa Sharanu
1985 Nee Nakkaga
Pavithra Papi
Dhruva Thare
Thulasidala
1986 Anuraga Aralithu
Aparadhi Nanalla
Ratha Sapthami
1987 Manamecchida Hudugi
1988 Devatha Manushya
Chiranjeevi Sudhakara
1989 Kalabhimani
Nanjundi Kalyana Karnataka State Film Award for Best Music Director
Bala Hombale
Deva
Gajapathi Garvabhanga
1990 Ranabheri
Aasegobba Meesegobba
Rudra Tandava
Pundara Ganda
Swarna Samsara
Mruthyunjaya
Challenge Gopalakrishna
Bhale Chatura
Raja Kempu Roja
Anukoolakkobba Ganda
Ivalentha Hendthi
1991 Lion Jagapathi Rao
Prema Pareekshe
Hrudaya Haadithu Karnataka State Film Award for Best Music Director
Aralida Hoovugalu
Golmaal Part 2
Kitturina Huli
Thavarumane Udugore
C. B. I. Shiva
Rollcall Radhakrishna
Readymade Ganda
Gandu Sidigundu
Kalla Malla
Halli Rambhe Belli Bombe
Kalyana Mantapa
Gruhapravesha
Mathru Bhagya
Kollur Kala
1992 Banni Ondsala Nodi
Bombat Hendthi
Amara Prema
Midida Shruthi
Hendtheere Hushar
Belli Modagalu
Sindhoora Thilaka
Goonda Rajya
Sapthapadi
Ravivarma
Kanasina Rani
Jeevana Chaitra Karnataka State Film Award for Best Music Director
Roshagara
Mana Mecchida Sose
Bharjari Gandu
Gharshane
1993 Olavina Kanike
Chikki Chandrama
Dharmapeeta
Bhagawan Sri Saibaba
Naavibbaru Namagibbaru
1994 Odahuttidavaru
Apoorva Samsara
Mandyada Gandu
Sagara Deepa
Hettha Karulu
1995 Shravana Sanje
Thumbida Mane
Mana Midiyithu
1996 Rambo Raja Revolver Rani
Samayakkondu Sullu
Muddina Sose
Rambha Rajyadalli Rowdy
1997 Gandede Bhaira
Ellaranthalla Nanna Ganda
1998 Vajra
2002 Dharma Devathe
Vishwamithra

Odia[edit]

  • Manika
  • Kabi Samrat Upendra Bhanja
  • Samarpana
  • Pipasha
  • Kula Chandrama
  • Ae Nuhen Kahani
  • Mana Akasha
  • Dharithri
  • Alibha Daga
  • Parivara
  • Palataka
  • Pati Patni
  • Punar Milana

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. "Another composer bids goodbye". ourkarnataka.com.
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Remembering Upendra Kumar". The New Indian Express. 24 July 2009. Retrieved 12 October 2020.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Srinivasa, Srikanth (3 February 2002). "Immortal in his melodies". Deccan Herald. Archived from the original on 2 June 2002. Retrieved 12 October 2020.
  4. Ramakrishnan, Deepa H. (26 September 2020). "Ever popular, the devotionals SPB sang". The Hindu. Retrieved 12 October 2020.
  5. Vijayasarathy, R. G. (17 April 2006). "The best songs of Rajkumar". rediff.com. Retrieved 12 October 2020.
  6. Deepak, S. N. (23 April 2016). "His voice lives on". Deccan Herald. Retrieved 12 October 2020.

External links[edit]