4 Movies, 2 langauges - 2 classics, 2 contemporary, 3 telugu, 1 English (with a few telugu dialogues a la Hyderabad Blues). While Sankarabharanam & Morning Raga had a running music theme, Anand & Gitanjali relies heavily on music to complement the storyline.
Sankarabharanam has stood the test of time & delivered a resounding board to the movement of promoting telugu classic music, not only in the Disco era (late 70's/early 80's) but also across times of rap, remixes and pop music. A scene in the movie illustrates its stand on telugu & western music. Somayajulla (The telugu singer) is disturbed during sleep by the cacophony called music by the yuppie crowd next door. The yuppies challenge him to repeat their tune & while the classical singer easily surmountes their challenge, they can't repeat a raga he challenges them to. Instead of taking the moral high ground, he educates them that no music is inferior to another; there is beauty in each of them & that's what makes the differnce.
A wane set in the mid-70s & early 80s taking the crowds from classical music towards disco culture & the way the southern region movies attacked it, produced some of the best movies compared to intellectual duds from Bollywood during the time. Swati Mutyam (Pearl produced from 'Swati Karthe' rain), Sagara Sangamam (Oceans Meet), Srutilayalu amongst others from the stable of K Viswanath stroked the interest in Telugu Movies. The wheels of time now turn the other way around & it looks more inwards, towards Indian culture for inspiration than outwards. Morning Raga is a documentation of the same Gen X trend towards classical music (more so, as a disgust from remix that anything else!); It also shows that fusion music is very much possible & will go well with music lovers.
Anand is that fresh whiff of air that Telugu moviemakers have got from the stale megastar, adrenalin pumping, macho action & pseudo regionalist patriotism. The dialogues are very realistic & the accent reflects the trend of the time rather than following 'filmi style'. It is apt to say that not only the dialogues but also the whole movie (except the climax) had a good narration on how an independent girl comes to accept the proposal of a rich guy. Gitananjali is the only Telugu movie made by Mani Ratnam (all others are dubbed from Tamil) and despite the weak plot, stands amongst the best narrated romance stories (2 terminally ill patients - one with cancer & another with heart disorder fall in love & rest, as they say is history!). The only thing that differentiate Anand from a Gen X movie to greatness is that the songs don't gel well with the story & therein lies the difference between a 'Anand' and 'Gitanjali'.
As much as i enjoyed these movies, i felt that musicals in movies are something of an ancient past & unless you have an innovative music director & a great director/narrator, the movies will be hard to digest for the audience.