Jan 18, 2009

NTR - The Great - Still Alive in our Hearts


Nandamuri Taraka Rama Rao (28 May 1923 – 18 January 1996), more commonly known as N.T. Rama Rao, NTR, or Anna garu, was a film actor, director, producer and a Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh. His repertoire of films included mythological, social and folk themes. He was awarded the Padma Sree by the government of India in the 1960s, recognizing his contribution to the Telugu cinema. After his film career, N.T. Ramarao became a political activist and party leader.
He was born in Nimmakuru, Krishna District, Andhra Pradesh. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree from the Andhra-Christian College of Guntur, Andhra Pradesh. He later received an honorary doctorate from Andhra University.

Silver screen:

NTR had a major contribution to what can be considered "The Golden Age of Telugu Film Making" especially between the 1950 and 1965. Though there is little commentary available, analysts believe that the Telugu film industry produced some of the best mythological movies in the entire India movie making history, while the Tamil and Hindi movie industry produced better socially oriented films. This is mainly to do with the availability of capable actors, producers, directors, personnel and audience required for such movie making.
Though widely recognized for his mythological characters, Ramarao is considered one of the greatest actors in Telugu film and in South Indian film generally. His portrayal of avatars of Vishnu, especially Rama and Krishna, mesmerized an entire generation who saw the face of NTR when the Lord Krishna/Rama was mentioned, this even transcending even into non-Telugu speaking states like Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.

As time passed by, NTR stopped playing the role of the prince in films. Instead he played the role of a poor yet heroic young man in the kingdom who is against the system in his kingdom. To the lakhs of the denizens in Andhra Pradesh, he became 'one of them' who assures the poor that he is there to rescue them from the wicked traitors in the kingdom
The most notable movies acted by NTR in mythological characters are Maya Bazaar (Sri Krishna), Lava Kusa (Lord Rama), Sri Krishnaarjuna Yuddham (Sri Krishna), Bheeshma (Bheeshma), Bhookailas(Raavana),Nartanasala (Arjuna also as Bruhannala), Panadava-vanavsam (Bheema), Sri Venkateswara Mahatyam (Lord Venkateswara), Maha Mantri Thimmarusu (Sri Krishna Devaralyalu) and Dana Veera Sura Karna (Duryodhana, Sri Krishna, Karna). Apart from these he played a variety of roles in folklore characters like Jagadeka Veeruni Katha, Pathala Bhairavi etc. On the social front he played roles in the movies Malliswari, Kanyasulkam, Gundamma Katha, Missamma, Raktha Sambandham, Ramudu Bheemudu, Adavi Ramudu, Vetagadu, Gajadonga, Driver Ramudu, Sardar Paparayudu, Kondaveeti Simham, Justice Chaudhary, Bobbili Puli etc. He acted in over two hundred and eighty movies in the lead role.

Politics:

NTR formed the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) in 1982. Promoting a new movie, he was asked a question by a person in the audience who asked "ayya, memu mimmalni devudu laga adarincamu, kani meeru maku emi chesaru?” literally translated from Telugu meant "Sir, we have treated you like a God but what have you done for us?” He was so moved by this that he formed TDP and lead to victory in the immediate election, formed a government and ruled the state of AP for a full term. He went into the elections with the slogan 'Atma Gauravam' which meant self-pride.
Like his movies, the formation of the party and storming into the assembly was very dramatic. TDP came into power within 9 months of its formation. Initially ridiculed by the Congress that state politics is not like movie acting among others, TDP was considered a no match for the congress, with the local representatives unheard of, the complete burden rested on the shoulders of NTR, and true to his charisma he won the elections with a landslide majority. Among other reasons why he won the elections was no real alternative to the Congress, lack of development, unemployment etc. He was very well supported by Ramoji Rao who gave wide publicity through the Telugu daily Eenadu. NTR himself contested elections from the constituency of Gudivada in Krishna District.
Even though he lost the 1989 elections, he shot to fame at the national level and was capable of uniting many regional parties.

NTR stormed back to power in 1994 when he promised he would offer rice at Rs. 2/kg and to make AP an "Alcohol Free" state. True to his word he kept his promises only to burden the state exchequer. He also faced serious problems within his party because of the interference from his second wife Lakshmi Parvathi in party and government affairs. Foreseeing the imminent threat of the de-stabilizing wave within the party camaraderie, N Chandrababu Naidu lead a sudden revolt and split TDP into two, where the political careers of more than 180 Members of Legislative Assembly (MLAs) was at stake. Naidu survived NTR's onslaught when NTR approached the public for an opinion and went on to break the record held by NTR as the longest serving Chief Minister of AP making a mark for himself. The break-up of the party and the drama that took place on the Tank-Bund (road connecting Hyderabad and Secunderabad on the banks of Hussain Sagar) were probably the last significant events in NTR's life.

Aftermath:

The loss of power and the subsequent events can be summed up as the start of anti-climax in NTR's life with a majority of people believing that Lakshmi Parvathi was responsible for what would otherwise have been the greatest life lived by an Andhrite since Sri Krishna Devarayalu (a 15th Century King). Officially he died of a severe heart stroke but there are conspiracy theorists who believe he had high traces of steroids in his blood which were unacceptable for a man of that age. The entire state was shocked to hear the news of his death and paid homage in a way only a king receives. His funeral was a state-affair which set the then world-record.
It is believed that he could have become the Prime Minister of India, as the third-front won the national elections and was struggling to find a leader who was acceptable to all the parties. Chandrababu Naidu went on record that he would have supported NTR as the Prime Minister as the third-front was his brain child, but it was six months too late.
NTR was survived by eight sons and four daughters, and his second wife Lakshmi Parvathi. He has several grand sons and daughter but the most known of which are his son NTR Jr. who closely resembles to NTR and Nandamuri Kalyan Ram

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