N T Rama Rao former chief minister of Andhra Pradesh
Nandamuri Taraka Rama Rao (28 May 1923 – 18 January 1996), was a film actor, director, producer and politician. He founded the Telugu Desam Party in 1982 and served thrice as Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh. Acted in about 292 films. He was awarded the Padma Sree by the Government of India in the 1960s, recognizing his contribution to Telugu cinema.
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.
NTR highlighted Andhra Pradesh’s distinct cultural identity, distinguishing it from Madras State. Telugu people are earlier referred as Madrasis.
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The first offer to join films came Rama Rao’s way while he was still in college .C.Pullaiah, the famous Telugu film director, heard about Rama Rao’s acting abilities through a friend who happened to see him on the stage in a couple of plays, and came down from madras with offer of a role in ‘Keelu Gurram’ (The Magic Horse), the film he was planning to make shortly.
But N.T. Rama Rao rejected that offer politely. He didn’t want to disturb his studies and join films at that point of time, because he was keen to getting his degree. Pulliah wasn’t the one who would give up easily. He then went to his father. But Laxmaiah, left the decision to his son. N.T. Rama Rao told Pulliah “See, Iam more determined now than ever to pursue my studies”. If my father has put the burden of the decision on me, I must at least make him feel happy that I am behavires as a responsible man. Letme get my degree first. Once I finish my studies, I can come down to Madras to try my luck in films. But most certainly not now.
L.V.Prasad, who has already established himself as a director in the Telugu film industry, happened to be in Vijayawada that night. Prasad was on a talent-scouting mission of Andhra. He was in search of new faces to introduce in a film called Srimati he was planning to direct for Sarathi Studios.
A well wisher caught hold of Rama Rao around 11 in the night and took him to Prasad. Prasad, who was busy watching a film in a hall, had a good look at him. He asked him to come to Madras .
The third class Vijayawada-Madras train fare was Rs. 8 in those days. Staying in a modest lodge in Madras cost Rs. 4 a day. But Rama Rao didn’t see why he should ask his already over-burdened father to form out even those few rupees.
Prasad gave him his first cine test at the Shobhanachala (now Venus) Studio on May 21, 1947. The test lasted an hour and a half on the sets of Drohi, a film then under production. The test over, Prasad told Rama Rao to go back, the result would be communicated later. The young man was not sure how he fared in the test. Uncertain of what was in store for him, he boarded the Calcutta Mail to return to Vijayawada where he now had a wife and a little son.
Armed with a BA degree in economics, Rama Rao was eager to take up a job. His parents did their duty by him by educating him. It was now his turn to support them as well as his young wife and son. He had already become conscious of his physique. He began to do exercises and eat ground maze instead of rice to maintain a strong and muscular body.
He kept trying for all kinds of jobs. He applied for a sub-inspector’s job but failed to get it. Later he applied for a job as a King’s Commissioned Officer (KCO) and was one of the two selected from the state. He was asked to proceed to Dehradun for an interview. But his father was not enthusiastic about his son joining the military service because nobody in the family went to the military so far. Rama Rao didn’t go for the interview.
Meanwhile, a letter arrived from Prasad. The film for which Rama Rao was tested was being put off for the time being, said the letter. But the director was making another film called Mana Desam (Our Country). There was a small but crucial role in it. The role would be his if he wished. He was welcome to go to Madras if he wanted to do the role.
This came as a disappointment. He was not interested in a bit role and there was no question of going to Madras for it. He put the letter aside without sending a reply.
Rama Rao now sat for the Madras Service Commission examination for a sub-registrar’s job. Out of the 1100 candidates who took the test, seven were selected. Rama Rao was one of them. He was pleased that at least now he could earn his living. Everybody he knew said it was o good job. He took up the job in Guntur. The salary was Rs. 120 per month. With allowances, the total worked out to Rs 190. In October 1947, barely two months after Independence, this wasn’t exactly a princely sum. But for a man who badly needed a job to support his parents, wife and child, it wasn’t something to be scoffed at.
With the lunch box in hand and much relief and excitement in his heart, Rama Rao arrived in the Registrar’s office on the morning of the first day. Like the others, he took off his coat, hung it to the chair and got down to work with all the enthusiasm at his command.
Come lunch time and the oldest peon in the office brought him coffee and snacks. Having neither asked for it nor paid for it, Rama Rao was puzzled. He showed the peon his own lunch box and asked, “Why have you brought all this for me?”
The old man gave him a mysterious smile and said, “My young master, this is a practice in this office. I arrange for coffee and anacks for all the people working here. Now you are one of us. That’s why I’ve brought these for you too.”
The mystery stayed unsolved, but only until that evening. In the registrar’s office, the employees used to hang their coats to the chairs the moment they arrivedin the office. The senior most peon was apparently in charge of what went on in the office. Even before a customer’s documents reached a sub-registrar, the bargain would have been struck about the “price”. Once the papers were signed, the peon would pick them up and go out with the customer, collect the bribe behind a wall.
From bribes thus collected all day, he would arrange for snacks and coffee for all. He would then distribute what was left among the employees, in keeping with their status. The district registrar got the biggest chunk followed by the joint registrar, sub-registrar, head clerk, clerks and then the peons, in that order. The Head peon would work it all out neatly and put each one’s share in the pocket of his coat.
At the end of the day, every one would quietly pick up his coat and leave, as though they were oblivious of what had transpired. When Rama Rao picked up his coat, he discovered to his amazement that one of his pockets contained hundred-odd rupees which did not belong to him. He flew into a rage. “Nonsense,” he screamed. ” I won’t accept this.” There was a big commotion in the office. They were surprised to see a man who was refusing to accept what came to be known as “collection money.”
The first day’s experience in his first regular job was a shattering experience. He was shocked by what he saw; A bunch of educated people accepting bribes as a matter of routine without feeling a tinge of guilt. He was deeply disillusioned and didn’t know what to do.
Soon after, a letter arrived from Madras, this time from a young, Calcutta-trained film enthusiast called BA Subba Rao. Subba Rao got an opportunity to direct a film called palleturi Pilla (Village Girl), his first venture. The eager director was looking around for a he-man to play the lead in the film. He happened to see Rama Rao’s photograph in LV Prasad’s album and was impressed by his looks. The letter said he would like to consider giving Rama Rao the hero’s role. Could he please come down to Madras at the earliest? Of course, all the expenses would be paid for. The letter was accompanied by a note from LV Prasad: Good chance, take it.
This came at a time when Rama Rao’s morale had hit the rock bottom. Soon the word spread like wild fire in the office. The younger lot in the office, flabbergasted by Rama Rao’s refusal to accept “collection money”, persuaded him to go with them on a picnic to a nearby beauty spot called Kondaveedu. They all stayed at the place for three days. They politely told Rama Rao that he was perfectly unsuitable for a sub-registrar’s job. If he did not accept bribes, how on earth was he going to live on a lowly salary? It was no job for an honest man like him. He won’t be able to send his son to a good school, let alone buy a decent sari for his wife. Now that he was being offered a hero’s role-a dream come true for any young man – why not grab it?
For the once Rama Rao was in two minds. Several doubts nagged him about his future. He was now in his 25th year. Even though he detested the open corruption in his office, at least he had a government job.There was a certain sense of security-something any youth of his kind from a middleclass family would crave for.
Now, should he give up all those and go to Madras? Where was the guarantee that he was going to make it in films? What if he didn’t make the grade? What would be the fate of his family? If he failed to make it in films, he could not possibly go back to government service because, having crossed the crucial 25th year, he would be considered over-age for a government job. Should he, therefore, keep the bird that was already in his hands or give it up and go into the bush to look for two-a doubtful venture?
P. Chalapathi Rao, the joint registrar in Rama Rao’s office was a kind man. He knew the ways of the would and Rama Rao respected him for his academic brilliance and wouldly wisdom. He was among the people who went to the picnic to kondaveedu. Chalapathi Rao was fond of Rama Rao and somehow believed that a bright future awaited him in Madras.
Chalapathi Rao argued thus: A government employee’s career was like the tail of a sheep. Beyond a point it never grew. Here was a good opportunity that came your way. It was possible luck would favour you, too. God had blessed you with good looks, education and culture and an ability to act. Fate now beckoned you to Madras. Luck might not lag behind. Victory favoured the brave. Now that a good oppoutunity was knocking at your door, be wise and open the door of your fortune.
Rama Rao was at last convinced. His brother Trivikrama Rao too did his bit. “Why hesitate at a crucial moment like this in life? Go ahead and take a chance.” On a good day chosen by an astrologer friend he boarded the Madras Mail. His colleagues in the office and those who took part in his stage activities bid him a fond farewell.
After arrival in Madras, Rama Rao dumped his luggage at Neo Modern Home (Rs 4 a day) and headed straight to L V Prasad’s office. He asked Prasad point blank: “Sri, is there any defect in me?
” Prasad replied, “No defect at all, Mr Rama Rao.”
Rama Rao didn’t ask why he was offered a small role and not the hero’s. all that he then said was, “Sir,
I am an educated man. I don’t want to be a burden to anybody. I can make out my own livelihood with
my hands back home on my farm if it came to that.”
Prasad understood and tried to soothe the young man’s ruffled feelings: “there are not defects in you. It’s just luck, you know. If luck favours, you, you will be a top star. I have all my hopes and faith in you.”
” If it’s a matter of luck,” Rama Rao told himself, “I can take the challenge and try it out. If things don’t work out here, I can always go back home. I can work hard on my farm and support my wife and son.”
When BA Subba Rao told LV Prasad that he would like to consider Rama Rao for a hero’s role just after having a look at his photograph in the album, Prasad thought Subba Rao was jumping to decisions without careful thinkings. Prasad told him: “Rama Rao is raw, a novice. Why do you want to take a risk by offering him a hero’s role, that too in your first picture?
Subba Rao said he wished to meet Rama Rao, got his address and wrote the letter which now brought the young man to Madras.
Those were the days when the men who were playing hero’s roles had a certain feminity about them. They lacked the he-man image. Being an addict of western movies since the Silent Era, Subba Rao always liked the idea of a he-man playing the hero’s role in his first directorial venture.
As Subba Rao sat in his first floor office and looked out of the window, he saw a handsome and wellbuilt young man enter the gate about 200 yards away. Dressed in a white dhoti and lalchi – or kurta, the collarless and full-sleeved loose shirt-in pucca Andhra style, the young man oozed dignith and self-confidence as he strode toward Subba Rao’s office.
The young man entered Subba Rao’s office and addressed him thus, “Sorry Sir, but where is Mr BA Subba Rao’s office?”
The short gentleman’s eyes lit up. He said, “Yes, I am subba Rao. You are Mr NT Rama Rao, isn’t it?”
” Yes sir.”
” Please sir down.”
” Thank you sir. I got your letter and here I am at your disposal. What tests do you want to take; voice test, screen test?”
Subba Rao just smiled and said, “Mr Rama Rao, I don’t believe in this test business. I have seen you and heard you. That’s enough. You shall be the hero in my film. Now let’s go to Mr Prasad.” His dream of a he-man playing his hero had at last come true.
As a matter of fact, Prasad thought Rama Rao was a bit heavy for a hero’s role. Palleturi Pilla was Subba Rao’s first film and Prasad was concerned that Subba Rao was determined to gamble on a virtually unknown entity as the hero.
” Don’t be in such a hurry,” Prasad suggested to Subba Rao. “The audiences do not know who you are. Now you want to take a new man as you’re hero. It’s a great risk that could affect your future. Think it over.”
Prasad then suggested, “Why don’t we see how he behaves in front of the camera? I want to give him a small role in my film, Mana Desam. See how he fares in it. After that you can decide.”
But Subba Rao had no intention of changing his mind. He smiled and said, “Sir, you are giving me advice like my elder brother. I appreciate your concern and anxiety. With due respect to you, I have already made up my mind about my hero. I would like to sign a contract with him and only then send him back. If things don’t work out, I can always cancel it. But I don’t want to send him back empty-handed.”
A sum of Rs 1116 was offered to Rama Rao as fee for playing the first hero’s role of his life. He gladly accepted it and an agreement was signed and off he went home to Vijayawada, resigned the sub-registrar’s job exactly three weeks after he took it, and came back to Madras to launch himself into the screen career – a career that was to make him rich and famous.
The third film role came his way in maya Rambha, a folklore drama, a little later. But three roles could not guarantee him two square meals a day. He hired a small room in the Thousand Lights area. Sharing the rook with him were his brother was doing at the time of the making of Palleture Pilla and decided to stay on, and a few other young men who were trying their luck in films. Yoganand and Tatineni Prakash Rao, who later became wellknown directors, were among them.
Because he could not afford the bus fare, Rama Rao used to walk long distances to meet prospective directores in search of roles. A proud man, he never liked to borrow, even from his best friends.
A meal in a restaurant used to cost eight annas – half a rupee – in those days. It was round this time that he had to go without a meal for three consecutive days because he did not have eight annas. “Just for the sake of eight annas!” recalls Rama Rao. But there is no bitterness or anger in his voice. Only a broad smile and a certain pride that he could take it without a grudge.
His room-mates were deeply upset when they heard about the incident. Yoganand was hurt. “Could you not have mentioned it to me?” he said. Rama Rao politely brushed aside the complaint. “I need to experience things in life so that I can train myself to face any eventuality with courage.” Nobody could argue with him on that score.
Yoganand had been a good friend since those days. He directed several films Rama Rao and Trivikrama Rao produced under the National Art Theatre banner, including Todu Dongalu (which won a national award), Jaya Simha and Ummadi Kutumbam (which were box office hits of their time).
It was also around this time that HM Reddy said he would give Rama Rao a hero’s role in his next film. A veteran who made well-acclaimed films like Gruhalakshmi, Tenali Ramakrishna and later Satyame Jayam, Reddy was a big name in the 1940s. Getting a break in a film of his could make all the difference to the career of anyone who hoped to make it on the screen.
Reddy would ask Rama Rao to present himself at his office or home at all sorts of odd hours, as if to check if the young man had the patience. “Come at 7.30 tomorrow morning, ” he would say. Eager to please, Rama Rao would show up on the dot. Reddy would nod his head patronizingly and say, “Oh you have come. It’s just that I am tied up at the moment. What about four o’clock the day after tomorrow afternoon?”
“Most certainly, sir,” Rama Rao would way and walk back to his room. After scores of trips, Reddy would say, “Well, I’ve got this hero’s role for you. You will wear a fur cap and have a huge alsatian with you. Now let’s see how you will deliver these dialogues…Good, very good. Now, how about coming to my place sharp at 10 in the morning on Friday?”
This futile exercise went on for one whole year. Rama Rao took it all stoically, never losing heart or optimism.
Then came the hero’s role in Samsaram. When released in 1950, the film was a success: it ran for 100 days in 11 theatres and for 25 weeks in one. But shavukaru, the fifth film that he did, was released earlier than the fourth, Samsaram, and that turned the tables in Rama Rao’s favour.
Directed by Prasad, it starred him with Janaki – who later made a name for herself as a singing star – and was produced by Vijaya Productions. B. Nagi Reddy and Chakrapani started the company by taking the Vauhini Studios on lease. The film had a 100-day run in one theatre when released first in 1950, but it did good business and Janaki, whose first film it was, came to be known as Shavukaru Janaki, whose first film it was, came to be known as Shavukaru Janaki. Even today she is known by this name.
The film’s moderate success pleased its producers who now planned something big. They wanted to get the four top Telugu directors to make one film each. KV Reddy was to direct Patala Bhairavi; BN Reddy, Malleswari; Prasad, Pelli Chesi Choodu; and M. Kameswara Rao, chandra Haram. The idea was that each director would finish making one film in six months.
They asked Rama Rao if he would sign an exclusive contract to work in their films. Rama Rao said he would sign on the dotted line provided they made him the hero in all the four films. He argued with Nagi Reddy thus: “If I am not successful in the hands of such eminent directors, then there won’t be any chance of my succeeding in this line. Give me a chance and I will do my best. If I don’t click in these films. I will give up my film career and go back to my village.”
Prasad had already directed Rama Rao in two films and all the five films in which he had acted had done well at the box office. Nagi Reddy and chakrapani thought it was a risk worth taking and agreed to give him the hero’s role in all the four films. They signed him up for a two-years exclusive contract.
They paid him Rs 500 per month and Rs 5,000 per film in the first year during which two films were completed, and Rs 750 per month and Rs 7,500 per film in the second year to make the remaining two films.
Rama Rao was now confident that he was going to make it. Armed with the Vijaya contract, he now brought his wife and son to Madras from Vijayawada.
Word soon reached HM Reddy that Vijaya’s had signed up Rama Rao. One day he met him and said, “But what about my film? I have already signed up two heroines for it and I want you as hero in my film.”
“But, “said Rama Rao, “You kept me waiting for more than a year without offering me a single role. How an I do anything now? I have already signed the contract.”
Reddy then offered to pay twice the amount Vijaya’s would pay him. “Sorry but I don’t do things like this. A promise is a promise and there is no going back on it,” Rama Rao told the great man.
Impressed by the young man’s straight forwardness, Reddy smiled and hugged Rama Rao and said, “You are a gentleman. This is the first time that I am meeting a person like you. Keep it up, son. You will go far in life.”
The first of the four films to be made was Patala Bhairavi, a folklore drama involving a wily magician, a beautiful princess and a poor but brave young man. Rama Rao played the young man. Rama Rao played the young man. The wicked magician has evil designs on the princess. But the young man takes him on, destroys the magician and wins the princess’s heart. In the great KV Reddy’s hands, this simple tale acquired a peculiar dimension. The role of the magician, played by the legendary S V Ranga Rao who passed away recently, provided scope for trick photography and imaginative setting like mysterious caves and a massive fortress.
The film, released in 1951, was a runaway success: It celebrated 100-day runs in 34 cinema halls, silver jubilee (25 weeks) in 13 theatres and golden jubilee (50 weeks) in one. It broke all the previous box office records in the Telugu film industry. The film was soon made into a Tamil version by Vijaya’s and a Hindi version by Gemini’s – both with Rama Rao as hero. They too turned out to be hits.
The film established Rama Rao as a mass hero and Vijaya’s s producers of entertaining films. Incidentally, it was Patala Bhairavi’s enormous success that encouraged Nagi Reddy and Chakrapani to undertake a massive reconstruction of the most sophisticated cinematic equipment.
Patala Bhairavi was the turning point in Rama Rao’s career as weel. Says he, “With that film I became a top hero.” Concedes Akkineni Nageswara Rao, his long-time professional rival and personal friend: “Patala Bhairavi made him known to the comman man” – a major factor in the making of super hero.
Malleswari and Pelli Chesi Choodu, two of the other three Vijaya Productions, followed soon. They too did well at the box office. Rama Rao now began to receive film offers on a regular basis. By the end of 1953, he had already starred in 14 films and felt encouraged to launch the National Art Theatre to Produce films along with his brother Trivikrama Rao.
The first film they produced was Todu Dongalu, in which he played the hero. A social film, meaning Fellow Thieves, it sought to expose the state of affairs in society. Film critics raved about it; the film became the first Telugu movie to receive a certificate of merit from the President of India in 1954. It was the only Telugu film screened at a film festival in China that year. But, at the box office it was flop.
Trivikrama Rao first came to Madras in 1949 just to see how his brother was doing in films. Strangely enough, his arrival in Madras coincided with Rama Rao fighting with the Australian bull during the shooting of palleturi Pilla and the fracturing of his wrist. Both the brothers, fond of each other, rarely stayed away from one another. Trivikrama Rao now stayed behind in Madras to look after his brother while he recovered from the injury; he stayed back in the city to assist his brother.
For Rama Rao’s younger brother, the failure of Todu Dongalu at the box office came as a rude shock. Even though the critical acclaim the film won pleased both the brother, it put Trivikrama Rao in the red by a couple of lakhs of rupees. There was serious talk that he should give up film production and go back to the village to take up farming. But Rama Rao encouraged him not to lose heart and give it up so easily but to try once again.
The result was the making of Jaya Simha, a folklore drama, the next year, 1955. The film was a hit. It celebrated 100-day runs a dozen cinema halls and silver jubilee in one. Trivikrama Rao stayed on in Madras for good to produce many more films in collaboration with his brother.
SILVER SCREEN GOD
The first godly role that Rama Rao played was in his 30th film, Maya Bazaar. Produced by Vijaya Productions and directed by the famous KV Reddy, it was based on an episode in the Mahabharata, the Hindu epic. Rama Rao played Krishna’s role. Hitherto, Rama Rao never played a godly role and there was considerable opposition from his colleagues’ hot favourite was a man called Raghuramiah, who excelled in playing this particular role on the stage.
But Reddy’s calculated gamble paid dividends; the film was a huge success: 100-day runs in 24 theatres and silver jubilee in four. Of the 30 films in which he acted upto Maya Bazaar, as many as 20 had celebrated 100-day runs in 169 theatres, nine films ran for 25 weeks each in 30 halls and one for 50 weeks in one theatre.
It is a fallacy, therefore, to say that it was only in films in which he played godly roles that Rama Rao was primarily successful.
He never looked back since.
The other godly role he is famous for is that of Rama, the hero of Ramayana, the Hindu epic. Interestingly enough, it was Ravana, the villain in the Ramayana, whose character Rama Rao portrayed before that of Rama. It was in Bhookailas, a Telugu film, in which he featured as Ravana. Sampoorna Ramayanam, first made in Tamil and dubbed later into Telugu, was the first film in which he played Rama’s role. Both the films were released in 1958.
But the film that brought him instant fame for playing a godly role was Sri Venkateswara Mahatmyam, the story of the Lord of the Seven Hills at Tirumala-Tirupati. Directed by P. Pullaiah, a veteran, the black and white film cost Rs 11 lakh to make and was released in 1960. It celebrated silver jubilee, 100-day runs and grossed over Rs one crore on barely 20 prints – a record for that time.
The film tells the story of Lord Venkateswara, an incarnation of Vishnu, and there is a scene in which Rama Rao emerges from the idol of the Lord and walks towards the camera – the audience. This particular scene created a sensation at that time and made a deep impression on the viewers, most of them humble and unlettered. The identification between man and god was complete.
The poor Telugu villagers who could not afford to make the trip to Tirupati instead went to the nearest cinema hall to see the film. Thoughtfully enough, the film’s producers advised owners of the cinema halls to put up an idol of the Lord in front of the halls. The villagers would come, break coconuts, prostrate before the idol, put some coins or crumpled notes in specially erected cash boxes called hundis (just like the one in Tirumala) and then enter the halls to see the film. Pretty soon, news of this reached the administrators of the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) – ever vigilant in matters of this kind. They promptly wrote to Pulliah, the director, and staked their claim to the sums thus collected: Rs 46,000.
Pulliah contributed another Rs 4,000 from his own pocket and presented a sum of Rs 50,000 to TTD with a request that a shed be built with the money for poor pilgrims. The idea was accepted along with the money but the shed was not built. Several sheds and other types of accommodation were built on the Tirumala Hills subsequently, but the contributions from the film’s patrons went unacknowledged for some unknown reason.
It was following the release of Sri Venkateswara Mahatmyam that the deification of Rama Rao began; 28 Bezulullah Road, Rama Rao’s residence at the time in Madras, slowly became a shrine of a kind. Busloads of pilgrims would arrive every morning from Tirupati. In the sanctum sanctorum of the Lord of the Seven Hills at Tirumala, the pilgrims were face to face with a shimmering and silent idol which only overwhelmed them during those few fleeting seconds. That did not seem enough. A good many of them would head for Madras to see the man who played Lord Venkateswara in flesh and blood.
They would arrive early in the morning, their heads clean-shaven and their hands folded in reverence. They would crowd the not-so-large compound of the modest house, while others stood in a serpentine queue along the road outside the house. Rama Rao, who’d be up before four in the morning as a matter of routine, would finish his yoga exercise, bath and breakfast (omelette, puris or upma and milk). The make-up man would finish getting him ready for the role he would play that morning.
With the make-up on and with his hands folded, Rama Rao would arrive in the veranda, gently wave at his admirers, smile at them and talk to them. He would normally ask: Where have you come from? How is life in your village? What do you do for a living? Do you get enough to eat? Is drinking water available in your village?
The pilgrims, fresh from Tirupati where they stood only in awe in the presence of the Lord’s would be often at a loss for words. Unlike the idol, this one – whom they saw in the film walking out of the idol – actually smiled and spoke to them. Suddenly they found themselves pouring their hearts out to him: There’s no drinking water in our village, one would say. Our MLA does not do anything for us, another would complain. We cannot get anything done without bribing somebody or the other, Yet another would moan. Rama Rao would nod is his head in sympathy while the rows and rows of clean-shaven pilgrims filed past him, making room for the hundreds have a glimpse of their living god.
Such complaints gradually grew in number; it began to dawn on Rama Rao that all was not well and that most people were generally unhappy with the state of affairs. It disturbed him in a strange way, but he did not really pause to think what all this meant. He was so engrossed in his work that he had no time to do so. It was time for him to leave for the studio. The last of the pilgrims had to be rushed through to see him before he drove off in his black Cadillac.
Little did he realise then that these people’s gripes were to work on his subconscious and eventually drag him in to politics some day so that he could do something for them?
The man never seemed to have any time for anything else except his work. His habits like waking up early, doing Yoga exercises were formed at the age of 15, when he was still at school in Vijayawada. It’s a life disciplined out of necessity. Every day, before going to school in the morning and after returning from school, he would milch the cows and supply milk to customers, mostly hotels, on his old Hercules bicycle. On the way back home, he would collect fodder for the cattle.
Even though he entered the film industry with a good break, he had to rough it up in the initial stages, sometimes even going without food for days.
In the beginning, he kept himself busy watching the then veterans at work or improving his dialogue delivery by haranguing at the ferocious waves of the Bay of Bengal that lashed at the expansive Marina Beach in Madras, somewhat in the manner of Abraham Lincoln. Then there were rounds to make to the studios and homes of directors in search of a role or two. Once the roles came his way, he had to toil with his lines and the characters he was to portray.
Krishna is apparently Rama Rao’s most favourite godly role. He acted as Krishna in as many as 17 films out of the 42 mythological films in which he had starred! In a film called DaanaVeera Shooora Karna (1997), he played Karna, Duryodhana and Krishna too. He also wrote the script; he produced and edited the film as well. Every day, six in the morning he would be made up to play Duryodhana, wear a heavy crown and spend the whole day either acting or directing. This went on for three weeks with out a break; during the last three days of shooting, he worked round the clock without a wink of sleep.
The Mahabharata provide material for a majority of his mythologicals: 23 in all. In Srimadvirata Parvam , ( 1979 ) he performed the incredible feat of portraying five roles as diverse as those of Krishna, Duryodhana, Keechaka, Arjuna and Brihannala.
He played Arjuna in four films, Duryodhana in four, Karna in one, and Bheeshma and Bheema in one each.
The other Hindu epic, the Ramayana, Yielded comparatively fewer Rama Rao films: eight. He played Rama in six of them and Ravana in three. In one film, Sri Rama Pattabhisekham (1978), he played Rama and Ravana as well! He played Vishnu in four and Shiva in one.
What is surprising is that whether he played Krishna or Duryodhana, Rama or Ravana, Karna or Yama Dharmaraja, most of the mythologicals in which he worked did well at the box office. While he is remembered most for playing the roles of Rama, Krishna and Lord Venkateshwara, his positive interpretation of the traditionally negative characters like Ravan, Duryodhana and Karna also won him critical acclaim. The audiences lapped up both kinds of films. Lava Kusha made history in the Telugu film industry by becoming the first film to celebrate diamond jubilee by only in 1982 by Akkineni Nageshwara Rao’s Premabhisekam. Two mythological of Rama Rao’s celebrated golden jubilees, seven silver jubilees and 25 others had 100-day runs in 225 theatres.
It is not just in godly roles that Rama Rao captured the hearts and imagination of his audiences. He played all the important emperors and kings in India history and folklore: Chandragupta, the great Mauryan emperor; Akbar, the benevolent Moghul emperor; Krishnadeva Raya, the famous Vijayanagara monarch in the 16th century; Dushyanta, the here of Sanskrit Poet Kalidasa’s magnum opus Shakuntalam; Harishchandra, the king who never told a lie; Bhatti Vikramarka, the king with unlimited patience and wisdom who had an answer for every riddle asked of him; and Valmiki, the sage who penned the Ramayana.
In the mythologicals, he plays divine role and performs miracles. In folklores. Numbering 55, he plays the swash buckling hero who bestowed with super qualities, goes about punishing wicked villains and rescuing assorted princesses whit full breasts and large hips, and emerge the victor and walk away with the heroin in the last reel.
On the other hand, while playing the wronged hero in the immensely popular socials, 184 of them, Rama Rao creates around himself the halo of a pop Robin Hood, emerging at the end as a law unto himself in Bobbilipuli(The Tiger of Bobbili), his 1982 blockbuster, for instance, he plays the hero up against a corrupt society. He retires to a cave from where he metes out rough and ready justice to all wrongdoers. Finally, after his arrest, he defiantly tells the judge: “Because the court cannot ensure justice, I was obliged to take law into my hands”. The audience cheers wildly in approbation.
This in short is how Rama Rao became a cult figure for the state’s weekly two-crore cinema-going people who revere him almost as a demi-god.
Success did not come to the man easily or overnight. He worked hard for it and chose each role he played with great care. If a producer said he wished to make a film with him, Rama Rao would first ask: “Who are the technicians?” If he liked the director and his team, he would then ask: “What’s the story?” Only if the story session convinced him that he would be suitable for the role, would he then accept the role.
From the very first film of his, he evolved an acting style of his own. He would create characters from his own imagination. He would write his dialogues – sent him earlier by the director – in his won elegant hand. This helped him to remember his lines will; he rarely fumbled for his words in front of the camera. Later, he had the dialogues read out to him; eyes closed; he would listen and then remember.
He would wake up before four in the morning, do his exercises, finish his bath, pray for half an hour, have breakfast and be ready for make-up. Pitambaram, the make-up man who worked with him for 25 years in Madras, would get him ready for the role he was due to play that morning. He would then drive to the studio in his imported car. In his time, he owned a Cadillac, a Chrysler, a Buick, Chevrolet, a Studbaker and now a Packard. He liked to change his car every five years. But the fist car he bought in December 1951, a Morris Minor (MDO 1522), continues to adorn the spacious garage of his Madras home.
He worked two shifts a day: 7 am to 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. The moment he arrived on the sets, the atmosphere would undergo a sea change and become businesslike. No small talks or gossip for him. Once the shot was over, he would sit in a chair in a corner and promptly doze off until summoned for the next shot. He would do as many retakes as the director would want him to. If any of his old-time colleagues were around, he would ask: Was that shore all right? If the man said, “not quite, you overdid the scene a bit”, he would smile and say, “OK, let’s do it once again”.
Rama Rao would cooperate with director, notwithstanding his age or experience. He would venture to give his advice or suggestions only when asked to. “The director is supreme”, he would say. “He must be having some idea about what the film is all about. He knows best. Why should I interfere?”
Though laudable in principle, this often turned out to be disadvantageous to him. Overawed by Rama Rao’s presence, many young directors often hesitated to get the best out of him and made do with indifferent performance. This resulted in quite a few mediocre films.
Because he is pleasant and easy to work with, producers used to flock to him with roles. He used to give all sheets 12 to 18 months in advance. That is to say, he would tell the producers when exactly he would be available to act in their films. This helped them to plan their films accordingly. And, whatever happened, he would always stick to his dates. While shooting, he broke his hand four time, suffered a snake bite on one occasion and the wheel of a bullock cart went over him on yet another. But he was always ready almost soon after, for the next shot. Except twice, when he had to be hospitalised.
Rama Rao kept good health all his life. He never touched liquor; there was no question of late nights, brawls or hangovers. He smoked chutta, the native cigar, in his youth but soon gave it up. He used to eat paan in his Vijayawada days but promptly gave it up when director LV Prasad said that a man aspiring to be a film hero must possess teeth that sparkled. He did not seem to know what “star tantrums” were either. In an industry notorious for complex man-woman relationships, he was rarely linked with any of his heroines; well, almost.
He teamed up with nearly 50 of them, including Anjali Devi, Savitri, Bhanumathi, Jamuna, KR Vijaya, Waheeda Rahman, Jayalalitha, Vyjayantimala, B.Saroja Devi, S.Janki, Krishsnakumari, G.Varalakshmi, S.Varalakshmi, Vanisri, Jayapradha, Jayasudha, Rati Agnihotir and Sridevi.
Because he was a strict disciplinarian who never let down his producers, he made one film every six weeks, on an average. During 1963, 1965-67,and 1969 he made practically one film every month. In 1964 he bettered his own record by completing as many as 15 films in a calendar year!
According to a well-informed film industry source in Madras, his 292 films may have grossed a staggering total of Rs.200 crores.
Interestingly enough, Rama Rao charged his producers only in thousands for as long as 22 years. He was paid a paltry Rs.7,500 for playing Krishna for the first time in Maya Bazaar in 1956. He graduated to charging a fee of Re one lakh per film only in 1972. From then on, the fee reportedly went up by Rs. five lakh once every few years. In the late 1970s, when producers began to swamp him with role, he reportedly began to charge Rs.20 lakh per film. These figures are based on unconfirmed reports; in the Indian film industry there’s no such thing as an authentic figure when it comes to the star’s fee.
Considering that Telugu films have a limited market in the sense that they can be shown mostly in Andhra Pradesh and a few towns outside the state where there are clusters of Telugu-speaking people, Rama Rao was possibly the highest paid film star of his time in the country. Comparisons are odius: Amitabh Bachchan, whose fee reportedly took a quantum jump after his 1982 accident from Rs.20 lakh to Rs. 45 lakh per film, is a saleable commodity all over India and in several foreign countries where people of Indian origin live. Marlon Brando charged more than Rs.2.5. crore for his brief role in Superman because the whole world is his audience. On a single day, the film grossed more than Rs.5 crore in 1395 theaters in Canada and the United States!
There were stars twinkling on the Telugu film horizon before Rama Rao got there; a lot more made the rather steep climb after him. But none has become the kind of phenomenon that he did and none so unique. Why?
” He stopped eating rice after entering films,” says Basavarama Taraka, 56, his wife for 42 years who cooks all his meals. Even though he can be a voracious eater, he east an omelette, a couple of idlis or pesarattus (a dosa-like Andhra delicacy, made of rice and greengram) and tea for breakfast, chapatis, chicken and vegetables for lunch and dinner. On April 14, 1983, the Telugu New Year day (Ugadi), Rama Rao took to eating vegetarian food and wearing saffron robes.
When playing godly roles, he would be completely off non-vegetarian food and sleep on a mattress on the floor. If playing villainous roles like Ravana, Duryodhna or Yama Dharmaraja, he would eat only non-vegetarian food in order to work himself up into the required mood.
He would be particular about the garments he wore and the crown he would don. No fake zari garments and cardboard crown for him. Metallic crowns are heavy. Most stars who have to put them on while playing mythological roles normally prefer crowns made of cardboard.
The late SV Ranga Rao, a veteran who made a name for himself by playing most of the bad characters in Indian mythology, detested metallic crowns. If any producer tried to persuade him to wear them, he would yell at him, “What nonsense! Why should I burden my head with that wretched thing? Get me a cardboard crown”.
With Rama Rao it was exactly the opposite. He would chide people who suggested that he wear a cardboard crown. “How can I act like a real god or king without a proper crown?” he would ask. He was in a hurry to finish making Daana Veera Shoora Karma (released in 1977) to pre-empt a professional rival’s project on a similar subject. Apart from playing Karna, Duryodhana and Krishna he wrote its script. He was also its producer, director and was in charge of costumes.
He would arrive on the sets dressed up as Duryodhana, donning a copper crown coated with gold that weighed about three kilograms. Throughout the day, he let the crown stay on they head and went about his work. This went on for three weeks at the end of which he sustaine an injury on his forehead, caused by the base of the crown. The injury lift a permanent scar. During the last three days, he worked day and night for all the 72 hours continuously, practically without sleep.
A glorious day in ooty in October 1981.
A movie entitled “SARDAR PAPARAYUDU” was being shot at Ooty. On that day Sri N.T. Rama Rao who was greatly respected and idolized as a mythical cine hero by the Telugu-speaking people was acting in the above movie. Sri N.T. Rama Rao was playing the role of SARDAR PAPARAYUDU who was a dedicated individual to put an end to the injustice and atrocities of the society.
During the during the breake time. Sri NTR was sitting in a chair and closing his eyes, he was recollecting the dialogues of the following scene. At that time some journalists came there and NTR warmly greeted them and enquired of their welfare. While conversing with NTR one Journalist said to NTR ” Sir, in another six months you will be sixty years of age and in view of that will you be taking any major and important decision?”
Sri NTR thought over for a while and replied to the journalist ” I was born in a small village called Nimmakuru. The Telugu-speaking people have been supporting me and endearing me to their hearts for the last 30 years. They have been showering so much love on me. They have been seeing the movies in which I acted and they have made me a wealthy man. They brought me honor and fame. I am greatly indebted to the Telugu-speaking people. Now it is my duty to pay off the debt, which I owe to the people. From my next birthday onwards I would like to spend fifteen days of a month in the service of the people. ” Sri N.T.R. never comments on any thing in a jocular way but if he takes a decision he is bound by it and he fulfills it under any circumstances. All the magazines of the silver screen published the exciting news. A political newspaper from Nellore announced that Sri N.T.R. was starting a new political party. This news spread like wild fire throughout the state. People began to discuss the matter at great length.
The political conditions in the state
In the General Elections of 1978 the Congress Party secured only 37% of votes but came to power. The political and social conditions began to deteriorate during the Congress regime. Corruption spread like cancer to all walks of political and social life. The Chief Minister got celebrated the attainment of 60 Years (Shashtipurthi) of age, with great pomp and show. Donations were collected on a grand scale by making the public believe that the collected donations were for the Congress party fund and the political power was misused by the Congress leaders and the people were awe stricken at the turn of the events.
As there was disharmony among the Congress leaders, the Chief Minister had to step down. Another Chief Minister was sent from the Delhi Darbar. The new Chief Minister formed his Government consisting of 61 ministers. Some Congress legislators became chairmen of several corporations. All the national newspapers announced that the Government would become bankrupt. Everyone looted the Government and because of disharmony among the Congress leaders the Chief Minister was sent from New Delhi. During his regime corruption spread in new dimensions. When the Assembly was about to be dissolved in two or three months the Chief Minister had to step down and the fourth Chief Minister in a span of 5 years was appointed by the Delhi Political Pundits.
Abnormal failure of congress in a span of five years
The people were disgusted and disappointed with the rule of the Congress Party in a span of five years. Changing of Chief Ministers for every simple reason, the Government getting entangled in corruption is the apparent causes for the failure of the Congress rule. A common man also was able to perceive the truth about the failure of the administration in the political and social fields. The developmental activities came to a stand still and the Goverments’s expenditure on establishment sector doubled up. The five-year rule of the Congress from 1978-83 is to be considered as the ” Golden Age of Corruption”. No one knows who will be appointed as the C.M. and no one knows when the C.M. will be removed. The administrators are hand in glove with the political leaders. Bribery was rampant, crores of rupees were collected in the name of party funds and no one was there to check it. The Congress leaders became sycophants and they were frequently going to Delhi, and staying in star hotels and they were appeasing their bosses to protect their positions and ranks.
The people in the state felt whether there was justice, rule of law, and administration at all; the opposition parties also were in the same position. Elected representatives of the Janatha Party and of Reddy Congress Party suddenly changed their minds, relinquished their parties and joined the ruling Congress. An opposition leader, who was dead against to the ruling party, overnight changed his mind, jumped into the Congress Party and became the Cabinet Minister. It was all a great fun and shame. The Congress High Command offered positions to the stepped down ministers and they made the people believe that the Congress was in good command of the situation.
Politics and N.T.R
Sri N.T.R. determined to serve the people by entering into politics. Some of the close friends of N.T.R. said, “Politics is a kind of quagmire. After knowing the truth about the politics, why do you get into politics? You are so successful on the silver screen. You are earning so well in this field.”
N.T.R. began to think in a different angle. He knew pretty well that the celluloid world would give him infinite wealth. When the Congress High Command changed the Chief Ministers four times, he felt that the self-respect of the Telugu speaking people was wounded. Sri N.T.R. felt that the self-respect of the Telugu-speaking people was pawned to the High Command. On one particular occasion, when the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh went to the Hyderabad Airport, in order to welcome a Congress leader from Delhi, the leader ill-treated the Chief Minister. This incident caused so much dismay to all the Telugu Speaking people.
Sri N.T.R. knew the feelings of the people of Andhra Pradesh. He didn’t like to waste time. He completed the call sheets of the pictures to which he entered into contract. Some leaders, who didn’t like the politics of Congress, were waiting for a chance. They were curiously watching the situation. On March 21, 1982 when N.T.R. came to Hyderabad from Ooty there was red-carpet welcome to him from his fans, well wishers and from some political leaders.
Meanwhile there were dramatic changes in the Congress Party. Sri Nadella Bhasakara Rao, the sitting member of the Legislative Assembly resigned from Congress, even to the primary membership. He decided to join the new party, which was being started by N.T.R.
On the 28th of March 1982 Sri N.T.R. reached Hyderabad. The steering committee consisting of 13 members was formed. Sri N.T.R. was the founder President of the new Party. N.T.R. has great faith in auspicious Muhurthams. He decided to declare the formation of a new party on the 29th of March 1982 at 2.30 p.m. There was tremendous response from the public and the Congress Party members began to shiver.
On the 29th of March 1982 at 2.30 in the afternoon Sri N.T.R. and his followers assembled in the new M.LA. Quarters. The followers of N.T.R. began to shout “Sri N.T.R. Jindabad, Sri N.T.R. Jindabad”. There was an echo of the shouting. The meeting place was shifted from the small hall to the lawn of the New M.L.A. quarters.
Sri NTR started addressing the gathering “My dear brothers and sisters, I have been seriously considering the idea of entering into politics. I was wondering how people would react to this new idea; when I see all of you here, It gives me immense pleasure and from this moment onwards I am entering into politics”. At the declaration of NTR the people in the gathering were greatly excited and they began to clap their hands with whistles.
Someone from the gathering has asked ” Sir, what is the name of your party?” Sri NTR glanced around and said, “Telugu Desam”. He also said “I am a born Telugu; from today onwards I dedicate my life for the service of the Telugu’s and for the state. I would work for protecting the Telugu culture, for enhancing the greatness of Telugu Language and I would strive to protect the self-respect of the people. That’s why our party’s name is “Telugu desam”.
The first public meeting
The first public meeting was held on the 11th of April 1982 in Nizam College Grounds. Sri NTR started in the open Jeep from Rama Krishna Studio. There was tremendous ovation from the people all the way up to the meeting place. People came from all corners of Andhra Pradesh to attend the meeting. Sri NTR said, ” You are all behind me ! There is no question of going back”. Sri NTR delivered an emotional speech and people began to think about the realities of life. The people were greatly impressed by the oratory of Sri NTR. The leaders who attended the meeting felt that the Congress party would face a tug of war in the ensuing elections.
Lord Venkateswara of Tirupathi is considered by all the people as the deity of the Kaliyuga. Many people start something new after having the Darshan of Lord Venkateswara. Sri N.T.R. who follows the spiritual path of life has decided to hold the second meeting. Every Year the birthday of Sri N.T. Rama Rao is celebrated by his friends and fans in great pomp and show. The 60th birthday of Sri N.T.R. has great significance because he is entering the field of politics
It was a mammoth gathering. Sri N.T.R. has many fans in the RoyalaSeema area. The fans of N.T.R. came to the Tirupathi meeting to see him and to hear his message. Every one who attended the meeting was enamoured of N.T.R. The success of the second meeting heralded a new era in the political history of Andhra Pradesh. In the beginning some political leaders thought that because of cinema glamour people were coming to the public meetings of Sri N.T.R. But gradually they realized that N.T.R. made a mark on the political map of Andhra Pradesh
Usually political leaders go in cars or helicopters to address the people. But N.T.R. has made a new experiment. He got repaired a Chevrolet van which was like a moving platform. Wherever people gathered, N.T.R. used to go to the top of the van and address the people to make them know about the misrule of Congress. People slowly developed faith in the ideology of the Telugu Desam. The Chevrolet van was named as Chaitanya Radham.
The caption on the Chaitanya Radham is “Telugu Desam is calling you! Come on!. People young and old, women and children ran after he Chaitanya Radham and they were very keen to listen to the speeches of Sri N.T.R. The whirlwind trip continued. Sri N.T.R. didn’t stay in hotels and lodges. He moved in the van; delivered speeches from the top of the van; ate in the van; slept in the van and took his bath near the roadside water point. It was a new way of canvassing.
N.T.R’s speeches and appreciation of the people
N.T.R. was good at delivering long dialogues with clear pronunciation. This art helped him to attract the people and endear them to his heart. There was sweetness in his words and clarity in delivering the dialogues. People never heard such refined words from a political leader. It was a new experience to them. The people greatly felt happy and they were greatly excited when they heard the oratory of Sri N.T.R. Through the canvassing speeches N.T.R. gave a new meaning to politics. People gasped and clapped when N.T.R. delivered beautiful and musical speeches. The speeches and dialogues of N.T.R. were released in the form of cassettes.
The news of the popularity of Sri N.T.R. spread far and wide and Smt. Indira Gandhi also came to know about it. Smt. Indira Gandhi felt that it would be very difficult for the Congress to face the Telugu Desam. So, she has decided to change the Chief Minister. Finally the Congress High Command decided to make Sri. K. Vijaya Bhaskara Reddy as the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh.
General elections before the schedule
Sri N.T.R. toured all the places in Andhra Pradesh travelling in his famous Chaitanya ratham, giving lectures how the Congress party exploited them. The rural folk were greatly inspired by the speeches of Sri N.T. Rama Rao and they revered him by Mangalaharathulu and Raktha tilakam. The Congress leaders were perturbed at the popularity of Sri N.R.R. The popularity was like a big tidal wave and the Congress leaders decided to hold the elections in January 1983 instead of March 1983.
The process of selecting candidates
Sri N.T. Rama Rao wanted to introduce new values into politics. He didn’t want to select the candidates in a haphazard manner. He selected educated candidates who have good name in the society. Among the candidates who contested on behalf of the Telugu Desam there were 125 graduates, 28 post graduates, 20 physicians, 8 Engineering graduates and 47 law graduates. In Indian politics no other party gave so much importance to youth and qualified candidates.
Smt. Indira Gandhi thought that the people of Andhra Pradesh were on her side. In the general elections of 1977 the Janatha party came to power at the center. But in Andhra Pradesh the Congress party secured majority of the seats. During her election campaign Smt. Indira Gandhi came to know that the people of Andhra were unhappy became the Congress High command went on changing the Chief Minister.
The general elections were to take place in 3 states. Smt. Indira Gandhi alloted 10 days for Andhra Pradesh for election campaign and 9 days for the other two states. Before N.T.R. came to the political scene, people in large numbers used to attend the meetings of Smt. Indira Gandhi. Now, there was a lot of change. At many places there was thin attendance and people expressed their anger by demonstrations.
The last election meetings
Smt. Indira Gandhi and Sri N.T.R. planned to have their last election meetings at Tirupathi. The public meeting of Smt. Indira Gandhi was arranged in the premises of Municipal High School at Tirupathi. There was very poor attendance. When Smt. Indira Gandhi talked ill of Sri N.T. Rama Rao the audience began to leave the premises. Somehow Smt. Indira Gandhi completed the election campaign and left for New Delhi.
N.T.R. public meeting at tirupathi
The last election meeting of the Telugu Desam was held at Tirupathi. Before the arrival of N.T.R. people anxiously waited for him. All the streets were full with the people who came in large numbers to attend the meeting of Sri N.T. Rama Rao. Everywhere there were yellow flags and people wearing yellow shirts. There was festive mood everywhere. When N.T.R. entered the town people showered flowers on him.
Sri N.T. rama rao reminded the people of their self-respect
In the last election meeting Sri N.T. Rama Rao delivered an emotional speech. “The Telugu speaking people have been subjected to humiliations for the last 35 years. In a span of 4 years four Chief Ministers were changed by the Delhi High Command. 294 elected representatives represent 60 million Telugu-speaking people. The Congress High Command sends some one as the Chief Minister. The elected representatives have no voice. Is it not a humiliation to the Telugu speaking people?.” Thus, N.T.R. criticized the Congress leaders, who are like puppets in the hands of Smt. Indira Gandhi.
The Telugu Desam is not just a political party, but it is a social revolution to uphold the social and political values of the people. The people have to rule themselves. Corrupt leaders are to be removed from their ranks. Our leaders have forgotten their self-respect. Now, the Telugu speaking people have to get up from their sleep.
The emotional speech of Sri N.T.R. greatly influenced the voters. After complicating the election campaign at Tirupathi, Sri N.T.R. went uphill to have the darshan of Lord Venkateswara and got tonsured as a mark of devotion and left for Hyderabad. Polling was to take place on the following day.
Sri N.T. R. wanted to join hands with the left front. But they did not cooperate with him. He allotted 5 constituencies to Sanjaya Vichar Manch and the Telugu Desam candidates contested in all the remaining 289 Assembly constituencies.
January 6, 1983
Reddy was very confident that the Congress Party would get the absolute majority. At 10 O’ clock night the first result was declared. At Shadnagar the Congress candidate Dr. Sankar Rao won the election. In Shadnagar constituency 65,673 votes polled and out of this, the Congress candidate secured 32,919 votes, and the Telugu Desam candidate secured 29,916 votes and the independent candidate secured 2796 votes. Sri N.T.R. was not surprised at this result. He was very confident that the Telugu Desam would get absolute majority.
On the following day the daily news papers carried the headings as “Telugu Desam superhit”. “In the storm of the Telugu Desam the address of the Congress” is lost. The National Congress which has a history of 97 years, was defeated by the Telugu Desam which was founded 9 months before.
All the results were announced by the afternoon of the 7th of January 1983. The Telugu Desam candidates secured absolute majority in 199 constituencies, the Sanjaya Manch secured 4 seats. In the entire state a total of 2,14,96,754 votes polled and out of this, the Telugu Desam got 96,23,361 votes. The Congress secured 60 seats, the C.P.I. 4 seats, the C.P.I (M) 5 seats, the B.J.P 3 seats, and the independents 19 seats.
After the announcement of the results the Telugu Desam members assembled at the Rama Krishna Studio and distributed sweets. They also danced with a state of joy in ecstasy. At about 2 p.m. Sri N.T. Rama Rao came out and greeted the audience with the victory symbol of showing two fingers which represent `V’ (V for victory). The audience whistled and clapped hands expressing joy to their leaders.
NTR was selected as the biggest icon of Andhra Pradesh in a poll conducted by CNN-IBN TV channel on the occassion of Independence day.