With the passing away of Rajan on Monday, we witnessed the end of one of Indian film music’s greatest musical duos. Their work spanned decades across multiple languages, and the multi-award-winning musical band of brothers delivered hit after hit in over 375 films, 200 of them in Kannada. To understand their influence in Kannada cinema better, take a look at this list of chartbusters they gave the biggest stars of the industry (limited to one per actor).
Song: Naavaduva Nudiye
Film: Gandada Gudi (1973)
Naa Ninna Mareyalaare and Eradu Kanasu are two movies for which Rajan Nagendra won the Karnataka State Film Award. Many blockbusters they gave Dr Rajkumar could have made it to this list, but no song covers the splendour of Kannada, Karnataka and Rajkumar all at once than ‘Naavaduva Nudiye’. Given how the song has become a must-hear during Kannada Rajyotsava even today, you realise how important the duo’s music is.
Song: Jeeva Veene
Film: Hombisilu (1978)
The Hombisilu album is evergreen, with the music and lyrics mirroring the times we lived in, back in the 70s. There are a lot of hit songs in the Vishnuvardhan-Rajan-Nagendra combo that makes picking one an arduous task. ‘Neera Bittu Nelada Mele’ from the same film is one that could have easily made it to this list, just for the way it begins and its rich melody, but Jeeva Veene is lit. This song was later reused as ‘Veena Venuvaina Sarigama’ in the 1979 Telugu movie Intinti Ramayanam.
Song: Naliva Gulabi Hoove
Film: Auto Raja (1980)
Shankar Nag frequently collaborated with Ilaiyaraaja and their combo gave us some unforgettable classics. But ‘Naliva Gulabi Hoove’, sung by SPB, was an evergreen number that we got when Nag collaborated with Rajan-Nagendra. The song is so loved that SPB himself describes it as one of his favourites.
Film: Bayalu Daari (1976)
This song can be described as the quintessential search for love or a lover. While the song surely is melodious, what caught everyone’s imagination was the way it featured Anant Nag on a helicopter, a first for Kannada cinema. Add the bird’s eye view the helicopter gave the song’s picturisation and it presented moviegoers with a great song and visuals that did justice to it.
Song: Aanandave Maithumbide
Film: Tony (1982)
Admittedly, Rajan-Nagendra didn’t work in many of Ambareesh’s films. But the songs in Tony were proof of what could have been had they worked together more. This song, along with lyrics by Doddarange Gowda, was playful and made us fall in love with the lead pair of Ambareesh and Lakshmi on screen as they ride in and around Kapu beach in Dakshina Kannada.
Song: Aadu Aata Aadu
Film: Kulla Agent 000 (1972)
Rajan Nagendra managed to get Kishore Kumar to sing for the first time in Kannada cinema for Kulla Agent 000. The peppy number had room for all of Kishore Kumar’s antics, delivered perfectly by Dwarakish on screen.
Song: Thera Eri Ambaradaage
Film: Parasangada Genda Timma (1978)
The album of Parasangada Gende Timma gave Rajan-Nagendra their second State Film Award. The village setting, the music and lyrics, along with SPB’s inimitable voice modulation, make this a very earthy song that has the power to take you back in time.
Song: Omme Ninnannu Kanthumba
Film: Gaali Maathu (1981)
Gaali Maathu is what one can call a musical blockbuster. ‘Bayasade Bali Bande’ is a duet and this song made it to the list since the focus was on Lakshmi. The song describes the beauty and character of a woman and Lakshmi was perfect for the role. Add S Janaki’s voice to this song and it added a layer of sweetness that helped both the film as well as Lakshmi’s characterisation.
Song: Indu Enage Govinda
Film: Eradu Kanasu (1974)
This devotional song is believed to have been written by Mantralaya Raghavendra Swamy. The first time this song was used by Rajan-Nagendra was for Manthralaya Mahathme, sung by PB Sreenivas and it became such a hit that the producers decided to reuse the song in their movie Eradu Kanasu, but with S Janaki’s voice, for actress Kalpana.
Song: Kaanadante Maayavadanu
Film: Chalisuva Modagalu (1982)
The song was picturised on a young Puneet Rajkumar (credited as Master Lohith) who also sang the hit number, his father Dr Rajkumar and Ambika. It’s also remembered for the way it captured the innocence of the young mind through lyrics as well as the music.