Hyderabad: The doyen of Telugu cinema, veteran director, actor, producer, lyricist and dialogue writer Dasari Narayana Rao passed away on Tuesday.
The 75-year-old auteur, popularly known as ‘Guruvugaru’ in the film industry, was not keeping well for the last couple of months. He was first admitted to hospital on January 29 in a critical condition, but recovered well and was discharged on March 28. He was recovering slowly at home and celebrated his birthday on May 4, surrounded by Tollywood celebrities.
On Friday last, he complained of chest pain. His condition deteriorated on Tuesday and in the evening, at 7pm, he breathed his last.
Dasari is survived by two sons, Taraka Prabhu and actor Arun Kumar, and a daughter, Hemalaya Kumari.
Telangana and Andhra Pradesh Chief Ministers K. Chandrasekhar Rao and N. Chandrababu Naidu respectively condoled the death of Dasari. Congress party AP unit president Raghuveera Reddy, YSR Congress Party president YS Jagan Mohan Reddy and several political leaders also paid tributes to him.
Tollywood Mourns, Shuts Shootings And Theaters On Wednesday
Entire Tollywood, Bollywood and Kollywood mourned the death of the veteran director. Hundreds of film personalities including actors, directors, producers, technicians and distributors paid homage to the demised director. The cremation will be held at the family’s farmhouse in Chevella, near Moindabad, on Wednesday evening. Rao’s wife, Dasari Padma, died in October 2011.
As a mark of respect, the Telugu film industry has decided to close all theatres and shootings on Wednesday.
Born on May 4, 1942 in Palakollu village, West Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh, Dasari Narayana Rao was interested in theatre in his college days. He entered the film industry as an assistant and co-director to directors like Adurthi Subba Rao, Bheem Singh, Savitri and Vayunandana Rao. He said his dialogues were inspired by Palagummi Padmaraju, a famous writer at the time.
Producer K. Raghava gave him the opportunity to direct his first film ‘Tata Manavadu’ in 1972, with comedian Rajababu as the lead actor and Vijaya Nirmala as the female lead.
His career took off and he went on to direct 151 films. The last one was ‘Erra Bus’, in 2014. He had announced a film to be made with Pawan Kalyan, but it didn’t materialise.
His cine sojourn began with Tatha Manavadu. He is the only director to score 12 consecutive silver jubilees. The heights he scaled, the history he made, the awards he won are legion. He perhaps is the only director who gave hits to both fathers and their sons. He also penned dialogues for over 250 films and wrote many a hit lyric.
Dasari also forayed into politics and media and carved a niche for himself in these realms too. He was a union minister and brought out Udayam daily, which was a huge journalistic sensation.
A Kapu in an industry dominated by Kammas, Dasari Narayana Rao nevertheless was one of the strongest pillars of the Telugu film industry. He always talked from his heart and never minced his words. He believed that the story was more important than the star and thus introduced many newcomers in his films.
Interestingly, he gave many blockbusters to N.T. Rama Rama Rao and Akkineni Nageswara Rao, the two stalwarts of Telugu cinema, when their careers were sliding.
‘Bobbili Puli’ and ‘Sardar Paparayudu’, which he made with NTR became a sensation at that time. The films did not only give a fillip to NTR’s film career but also paved the way for his political career. The dialogues in these two films are still popular and Dasari shows how strong he is as a writer too.
Akkineni Nageswara Rao, too, benefited from his association with Dasari Narayana Rao. His ‘Premabhishekam’ and ‘Mega Sandesam’ made him successful once again.
As a director, Dasari Narayana Rao created stories out of the society he observed around him. He took up social issues such as corruption and gender discrimination and other social causes.
These themes were depicted in films like ‘Tata Manavadu’, ‘Swargam Narakam’, ‘Bali Peetham’, ‘Manushulantha Okkate’, ‘Katakatala Rudrayya’, ‘Premabhishekam’, ‘Sardar Paparayudu’, ‘Bobbili Brahmanna’, ‘Surigadu’, ‘Mamagaru’, ‘Oseyi Ramulamma’, ‘Oreyi Ricksha’ and many others.
He encouraged new talent and introduced many technicians and artistes to the industry. He was not hung up on big time actors. In his 1995 film ‘Oreyi Rickshaw’ he used a small actor like R. Narayana Murthy. ‘Oseyi Ramulamma’ was based on the women’s rebellion in Telangana and starred Vijayashanti.