Ghantasala Venkateswara Rao (Telugu: ఘంటసాల వెంకటేశ్వరరావు)(1922-1974) was a popular South Indian singer and music composer of Telugu films and few other Indian language films. He received Padmashree award. For nearly quarter a century, he was the voice of Telugu films. He was Telugu cinema's first playback singer for movies.
Ghantasala Venkateswara Rao was born in Choutapalli, near Gudivada, Andhra Pradesh, India. Hs father Gantasala Suryayaa was a local singer. He lost his father as child, and was brought up his maternal uncle Ryali Pitchi Ramaiah. He took formal music trainin from from Sri Patraayani Sitarama Saastri, also known as Saaluuru Chinna Guruvu Garu, and he joined music college in Vijayanagram without telling his family. He partipated in Quit India movement in 1942 as a freedom fighter and singer, and he was jailed for eighteen months in Alipore Jail. After release, he sang many songs on All India Radio.
His first film entry was as a chorus singer and as extra character in Seetha Rama Jananam by Pratibha Films. He became popular singer with the early films like Balaraju and Keelugurram, and later sang for most of the movies for all actors for next two decades. He introduced the technique of changing the voice pitch and diction to suit the actor singing the songs on the screen. People were so enamored by this that they started imagining the hero of the movie just by listening to him sing over the radio.
Producer Krishnaveni gave him first chance as full music director for her film Mana desam. He later composed music for many popular Telugu movies like Patala Bhairavi, Gundamma katha, Paramanadiah Sishyula Katha, Pelli Chesi Chudu, Mayabazar and Lava kusa.
He also served as the Aaasthana Gaayaka(court musician)for the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams. He was also a recipient of the Padma Shri. The famous renderings of Ghantasala Venkateswara Rao also include private albums, like BhagawadGita, Patriotic Songs, Padyalu (unique genre of Telugu - singing the verses in dramatic style), Pushpa Vilapam and folk songs. Gifted with what V.A.K.Ranga Rao called "The most majestic voice", and he helped Telugu film music develop its own distinct character.
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