External intervention is sometimes required to boost the sagging spirits. It happens in life and it also happens in film music. Like how Rahman's Tamil film songs gave a new direction to Hindi film music in later part of 90s, even before Rahman himself entered the fray in Hindi. The same thing happened to Telugu film music in the late 70s and early 80s.
To me the Telugu film music of late 70s and early 80s was a bit stale. Giants like Rajeshwar Rao and Pendyala were slowly fading away and the music scene was dominated by Chakravarthy, whose music was mediocre, if I have to put it lightly. K V Mahadevan's music was bright in patches. The music was outstanding when he did movies with directors with an artistic bent of mind like K.Vishwanath and Bapu and had a tired feel when he had to do the normal 'masala' movies, where he had to compete with Chakravarthy. Ramesh Naidu and Sathyam came up with good tunes now and then but they were not 'commercially' very successful. It was during such times that Rajan Nagendra entered from Kannada movie field with their Kannada tunes. It was as if on a very hot day, a gust of cool breeze suddenly caressed your body. My friend always feels that two music directors from outside the state, Rajan-Nagendra from Karnataka and Illayaraja from Tamilnadu gave freshness to Telugu film music during those times. I fully agree with him.
As far as I know, almost all the Rajan Nagendra songs in Telugu seem to have Kannada counterparts. I found this later but even if I had known it during those time I wouldn't have cribbed. Some of the songs I have enjoyed the most and are still very memorable happen to be Rajan Nagendra's tunes. Songs like 'poojalu seya poolu thechanu', 'siri malle neeve', 'ennenno janmala bandham', 'intinti ramayanm', 'mallelu pooche', 'manasa veena' are still loved by everyone. The melodic structure and the instrumentation sounded very fresh when compared to the then prevalent sounds in Telugu film music that we embraced these songs the very moment we heard it. Rajen Nagendra are a part of every Telugu music fan who grew up in the later 70s and early 80s. They didn't do music for too many Telugu movies but what they did in movies like 'Sommakkadidhi Sokkokkadidhi', 'Intinti Ramayanam', 'Pantulamma', 'Pooja', 'Nalugu Stambalata' has ensured they will enshrined in the pantheon of Telugu film music directors.
I would have loved to link their 'manasa veena' from 'Panthulamma' which is a great ragamalika. Unfortunately youtube doesn't have it. SPB had many good things to say about this song and how even Susheela balked at the difficulty of this song. Instead I am going to give you another interesting song. Interesting in a different sense. Raja Nagendra first made this song in Kannada. Then they brought this song to Telugu. Later Nadeem Shravan took it to Hindi. The song was a hit in all three languages.
Here is the Kannada version from the film 'Bayaludari'
Here is the Telugu version from 'Naalugu Sthambalaata'
Here is the Hindi version from the movie, 'Deewana', a song which kick-started Shah Rukh's journey to super startdom:
For those who want to listen to 'manasa veena', the 47th song in this link:
I don't know much about their work in Kannada films, where they did have a great impact. Those who know about their contribution to Kannada film music may kindly comment.