Doddarange Gowda: Lyricists must promote good taste

Doddarange Gowda: Lyricists must promote good taste

He began his career as a mail sorter, became a poet and lecturer, and went on to write 500 film songs

Doddarange Gowda has won three State Film Awards and one Sahitya Akademi Award for Poetry.

Doddarange Gowda, poet and writer, is also a big name in films. He wrote 500 songs for Kannada films between 1970s and 1990s, and was honoured with the Padma Shri in 2018. 

Born in Kurubarahalli in Tumakuru district on February 7, 1946, Doddarange Gowda inherited his love of Kannada from his father Range Gowda.

“Also, our Kannada teacher A Ramachandra Rao was an inspiration. He triggered my love for poetry by giving me a book of poems,” he says. 

Doddarange Gowda joined the Railway Mail Service in 1964.  “I received training in Mysuru and started work in Hubballi as a mail sorter. There, I met renowned poets and writers like D R Bendre, Patil Puttappa and G B Joshi. Meeting P V Acharya, editor of ‘Kasturi’ magazine, was a turning point. He encouraged me to write articles for the magazine. Some of my poems were published in Chandrashekhar Patil’s ‘Sankramana’ literary magazine,” he recalls.

He was transferred to Bengaluru after a short stint in Birur. “I met the well-known editor Khadri Shamanna and began writing a column in the magazine ‘Gokula’. I picked up the nuances of journalism under him. At one point, I thought of continuing my studies, so I applied for BA (Kannada honours) at Central College. 

He met many literary giants there. Poet Ram Shri Mugali was the head of the Department of Kannada. G S Shivarudrappa, P Lankesh and Prof M V Seetharamaiah were among his teachers. “Chandrashekhara Kambara taught us when I did an MA. I joined as a Kannada lecturer at SLN College in Bengaluru in 1972,” he says.  

His tryst with films began with ‘Magiya Kanasu’ (1977). “Every year, Shivarudrappa organised a seminar on Kannada poets at the Bangalore University. In 1977, filmmaker KSL Swamy came to one such seminar where I presented a paper on Bendre’s poems. He spoke to me, and later took me and poet M N Vyasa Rao to Madras (now Chennai) to write songs for a film. I wrote ‘Bandide badukina bangarada dina’ for ‘Magiya Kanasu’. Vani Jayaram sang it in a tune composed by Vijayabhaskar,” he recollects. 

Doddarange Gowda had already published many poetry collections by then. “K V Subbanna of Akshara Prakashana published ‘Nadadi’, my collection of poems. The legendary director Puttanna Kanagal made ‘Paduvarahalli Pandavaru’ (1978), a film based on ‘Dani Purana’, an ode in my book. I wrote three songs – ‘Esu varsha ayte ninge’, ‘Janma needida bhoothayige’ and ‘Srirama bandavne Seetheya kanalike’. They were well received. Later, I got to meet director K V Jayaram and he roped me in as a lyricist for all his films,” he says.

Doddarange Gowda’s popularity as lyricist touched new heights with ‘Parasangada Gendethimma’ (1978), directed by Maruthi Shivaram. “It was based on a novel by Srikrishna Alanahalli. S P Balasubrahmanyam sang ‘Tera eri ambaradaage nesara naguthane’. He took notes and discussed with me how to pronounce the words. All the songs in that film are great hits, remembered to this day.”

He wrote dialogues for ‘Maralu Sarapani’ (1979) and ‘Kappu Kola’ (1980). Besides, he worked closely with director A V Sheshagiri Rao on seven films.

His association with music directors Rajan-Nagendra (Parasangada Gendethimma and Hrudaya Geethe), Ashwath-Vaidi (Aalemane, Bhoolokadalli Yamaraja) and M Rangarao (Mududida Tavare Aralithu and Aruna Raaga) are worthy of mention.  

Doddarange Gowda won the state special award for the song ‘Ella melu keelu’ (Aalemane). Later, he bagged the best lyricist award three times for ‘Ganeshana Maduve’ (1990), ‘Kavya’ (1995) and ‘Janumada Jodi’ (1996). He received the Rajyotsava and Kempegowda awards. He was also nominated to the Legislative Council. He has brought out a host of bhavageethe and devotional songs’ cassettes.

“Lyrics take shape in contemplation. It is about perception and listening. Some songs are easy to write when the context is given. Certain songs, like ‘Kelisade kallu kallinali Kannada nudi’ from ‘Belli Kalungura’ (1992) demand time,” he says.

Composers have different styles, he observes. C Ashwath set the lyrics to tunes while Ilayaraja gave him the tunes first.

“I use simple words and metaphors, and rural and folk images. People always welcome freshness, nativity and melody. A lyricist is a promoter of good taste and culture,” he says.

Doddarange Gowda’s wife Dr Rajeshwari was a lecturer-writer. Their son D Bharath is the head of Kannada department at St Anne’s College and daughter Smitha is a Kannada lecturer at Government PU College, Hirisave, Hassan. 

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