GOLI VEERAVENKATA SATYA SAI RAMPRASAD believes that the period from the 1960s to the 1980s was the golden age of Telugu melody. “During the 1960s and ’70s, it was Ghantasala, and during the 1970s and ’80s, it was SP Balasubrahmanyam,” he said. “Singers—from Madhavapeddi Janaki, Susheela, Pitapuram Nageswara Rao and PB Srinivas to Bhanumathi, Leela, LR Eswari and Yesudas—stirred people’s hearts.”
It’s a legacy that Saibabu (as he’s referred to) wants to preserve. Up a flight of grubby steps in a beaten-down building in Devi Chowk in Rajahmundry, a city in Andhra Pradesh’s East Godavari district, is a 12 by 20-foot room with 2,000 gramophone records, 2,000 cassette tapes and about 800 CDs stacked in glass-case shelves and corner shelving, or stashed away in stacks of boxes. This is Saibabu’s music library and shop, Janaranjani, by unofficial estimates the largest private collection of Telugu film songs.
“Low-budget movies and unsuccessful movies that ran for one or two days get short shrift. Hence this collection,” Saibabu explained as he shuffled songs on the digitised collection on his computer. “Between 2006 and 2012, at least 700 movies would have been released,” he added, referring to the need for a preservation project like his.