Rajan Nagendra Biography

    Rajan and Nagendra were musicians who were prominent composers of film music in Kannada and Telugu cinema during the late 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s and early 1990s. Rajan, along with his brother Nagendra, created a niche for themselves for nearly four decades. The duo scored music for about 375 films, over 200 of them in Kannada and the remaining in other languages like Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam, Tulu, Hindi and Sinhala. They composed innumerable hits, hundreds of melodious tunes in their career spanning four decades. They also hold the record for the longest active musical pair in the industry.


    Rajan (1933 - 2020) and Nagendrappa (1935 - 2000) born in Shivarampet of Mysore in a middle-class musical family. Their father Rajappa was a harmonium and flute player who played background music for silent movies. Within a short time, each of them attained proficiency in playing a different instrument – Rajan in violin and Nagendra in Jal tarang. Rajan used to listen to musical performances of eminent musicians at Choudayya Ramamandira in Mysore and hence got the opportunity to listen to music performances by Hindusthani, Karnatak, and western music in the Mysore palace. Later on Rajan came to Bangalore for his further educational studies.

    Early career

    In Bangalore Rajan studied in S.L.N. School in the K.R. Market area and later in Central High School. Rajan learnt the violin and appeared at the state level violin competition, where he secured the first place. Both Rajan and Nagendra participated in public performances through Jaya Maruthi Orchestra. Meanwhile, Rajan got an offer to go to Madras. He took his brother along with him and they got an opportunity of learning the music trade under the aegis of H. R. Padmanabha Shastri, who was known for producing talkie movies at that time. This gave them significant exposure to the movie industry.

    In 1951, Nagendra returned to Mysore and completed his matriculation. Then he joined P. Kalinga Rao, who was then a famous radio artiste. Within no time, Nagendra got an opportunity of singing for the movie 'Srinivasa Kalyana' along with Hindustani singer Ameer Bai. Finally, Rajan–Nagendra became independent music directors when they scored music for the film Sowbhagya Lakshmi in 1952. This movie opened the doors of success and they never looked back for more than four decades. After 'Sowbhagya Lakshmi' came Vittalacharya's 'Chanchalakumari', 'Rajalakshmi' and 'Mutthaide Bhagya' in a series to pave the way for these would-be melody kings.


    Rajan used to compose the melodies and set the notations for the orchestra. Nagendra used to dictate the lyrics and tune of the song to the singers. They had a successful stint in Kannada film industry from early 50s till late 90s, but they started shining from 1973 with Gandhada Gudi songs becoming popular throughout Karnataka and dimmed in early 90s, when new generation music took over thus covering a span of two decades of lilting melodies that has been hugely popular till date in Karnataka and other states of South India.

    In the 70s came super hits in a row like Nyayave Devaru, Gandhada Gudi, Devara Gudi, Bhagyavantaru, Eradu Kanasu, Naa Ninna Mareyalaare, Naa Ninna Bidalaare, Hombisilu, Bayalu Daari, Paavana Ganga, Giri Kanye and the list goes on. In the 80s, they made the music for some Telugu films, including Maa Intayana Katha, Puli Bebbuli and Vayyari Bhamalu Vagalamari Bharathulu. They composed the music for about 70 Telugu films.

    Further, they kept scoring consistently good music through the 90s and in the course, produced for movies like Mathe Haditu Kogile, Marali Goodige and Suprabhaata. They also composed music for a TV serial 'Abhimaana' on Udaya TV. Rajan–Nagendra made delightful songs in the Rajkumar-Lakshmi starrer Naa Ninna Mareyalaare and Eradu Kanasu, which starred Rajkumar, Manjula and Kalpana.

    Hombisilu, starring Vishnuvardhan, was another big hit. Rajan–Nagendra also did a series of films starring Anant Nag, and Lakshmi, notable among them being Naa Ninna Bidalaare, Benkiya Bale and Chandanada Gombe etc. Naa Ninna Mareyalaare, Gandhada Gudi, Eradu Kanasu—these huge musical hits of the Kannada screen featured the music of Rajan–Nagendra. Their team was exceptionally good at composing cheerful love duets, although they did come up with a couple of sombre numbers like Baadi hoda balliyinda(P B Srinivas, Eradu Kanasu)

    The lyricists who wrote unforgettable lyrics for them are late Hunasur Krishna Murthy, Uday Shankar, Vijiya Narasimha, Geetha Priya, Dodda Range Gowda, Vyasa Rao and many more. The prominent Telugu lyricists are Narayana Reddy, Dasarathi and late Vetoori Sundarama Murthy and many others. The most prominent Tamil lyricists are late Kanna Dasan and many more.

    The main male vocalists who enriched the melody of their songs are late Ghantasala, Kala Govindarajan, P.B.Srinivas, Dr. Rajkumar, late Kishore Kumar, Balasubrahmanyam, Jesudas,B.R.Chaya, Rajesh Krishna and many more. The popular female vocalists are Bala Saraswati, Soolamangalam sisters, P. Leela, S.Janaki, Vaani Jayaram, Rani, L.R.Easwari, P.Susheela, Jikki, Chitra and many more.

    Hundreds of Rajan–Nagendra songs were sung by Legendary singers P.B.Sreenivas, S. Janaki, Dr.Rajkumar, SPB. Almost all of them remain etched as the unforgettable melodies of Kannada Cinema. The Love songs of SPB-SJ-Rajan–Nagendra combination is considered to be heavenly. Such an everlasting haunting melodies Rajan–Nagendra pair created. The duo is also reported to have introduced another illustrious playback singer K. S. Chitra to the Kannada cinema back in the early 1980s.

    Nagendra sang a couple of songs in his five-decade-long career. The most popular was Yaaru yaaru née yaaru for the comedian Narasimharaju. He also sang Nammoora santheli in the Jai Jagadish-Lakshmi starrer Gaalimaatu. Neeliya baninda tareya oorinda from Tony. Somehow his voice was typecast for comic scenes.

    The pair directed music for about 400 films, more than 200 in Kannada alone and rest in Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam, Tulu, and Sinhalese. Most of the hit songs from Kannada movies were remade in Telugu.


    Nagendra's death

    Nagendra, the younger one of the two brothers who gave Kannada cinema some of its most memorable hits, died of a stroke in Bowring and Lady Curzon Hospitals, Bangalore, on 4 November 2000. He was being treated for hernia, but later developed complications from high blood pressure and diabetes.

    Rajan's death

    Rajan died at his residence on October 11, 2020 due to illness, He was 87 years old.

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