HYDERABAD: A festival of life. A celebration of togetherness. Flowers...music...dance. We couldn’t stop ourselves from joining in the festivities. Bringing you a glimpse of the beauty of Bathukamma from our hearts, through our arts’ The festive season in Telangana has started with these very words which appear at the start of a special video-song that captures the beauty of the State’s biggest festival.
While the women prep for Bhathukamma, music maestro AR Rahman and filmmaker Gautham Vasudev Menon have collaborated to create magic this year with a special number, Allipoola Vennela. Produced by Telangana Jagruthi, the song has been composed by Academy Award winner AR Rahman, sung by Uthara Unnikrishnan, penned by Mittapalli Surender and choreographed by National Award winner Brinda.
“I like the idea of the festival; it is about women and beautiful flower arrangements. Bathukamma is such a colourful festival and I wanted to film it. I met Kavitha ma’am and she, too, asked me if we could plan something on it together. I said we could work on a song. Then, Rahman sir came on broad and that’s how the song took shape,” Menon said hours before releasing the song with former MP K Kavitha in Hyderabad on Tuesday.
The idea behind Allipoola Vennela was to keep it real and simple. Hence, the makers did not rope in prominent faces to act in it. “Prominent people are from a certain region and we wanted to keep the video-song natural. We did not want any prominent names to be featured in it. The biggest name is Rahman sir and that is all we wanted,” Menon said.
Talking about the collaboration with the music maestro, the filmmaker said: “He has done stuff like this in Tamil,wherein he promoted the language and I directed the song. When we asked him to join us for this project, he did not hesitate. He played all the previous songs and said we will get to work immediately.” Since a lot of people and decor were used in the making of the video, a lot of planning went into it. “We were also shooting amid bad weather. It took us two days to complete it,” said Menon.
Allipoola Vennela was shot in the heartland of Telangana as the makers wanted to keep every shot authentic. There is also a bit of studio work. “My work has always been experimental and I hope that the people like Allipoola Vennela,” Menon said. Meanwhile, Rehman tweeted about the song: “A festival of life. A celebration of togetherness. Bringing you a glimpse of the beauty of Bathukamma through #AllipoolaVennela along with Telangana Jagruthi.”
To this, Kavitha replied, “The festival of colours, melody and togetherness Bathukamma is here! Here’s sharing a glimpse of the special song for Bathukamma by @arrahman @menongautham and a dream team for all my sisters.” Meanwhile, the song drew criticism from a few netizens. Senior journalist and blogger Manchala Srinivasa Rao posted a link to his blog which stated: “So far, Telangana has been seeing Andhra Pradesh dominance and mockery of TS self-respect and culture.
Now it’s the turn of Tamilians and Malayalees to make fun of us. This is Rahman and Menon’s assault on our culture. Could Kavitha not have found someone from Telangana to sing, compose and direct this song? Couldn’t she find someone who could meaningfully portray the culture of Telangana? These people have successfully sank the might of the State. Did Kavitha watch this before releasing it? Is this how Bathukamma is being celebrated?”
Another user wrote: “Fair enough AR Rahman, you have contributed enough to Indian music. But never ever mess with our culture. Please leave us and exhibit your smartness in Tamil. But not with us.” “Had Sankarabharanam Sankara Sastry been alive today, he would have said how can you use classical elements in our folk music and culture. No one can comprehend the lyrics, it does not reflect TS culture, language and Bathukamma,” wrote another.