D.Rama Naidu or Daggubati Rama Naidu, father of film star Venkatesh, his brother Suresh Babu of Suresh Studios, one of the largest production houses of India, and their sister Lakshmi, is no more. A giant of the times, this veteran movie producer was one of the solid pillars of the Telugu film industry and contributor to the making of many good films in other languages also. He was an elected ex-MP from Bapatla, A.P. who earned a name as a good Parliamentarian too. At 78, he passed away peacefully after suffering from cancer for some time.
His ‘small’ entry into the world of films
Born in 1936 in Karamchedu of Prakasam district in Andhra Pradesh, Rama Naidu starstruck and wanting to be a lead actor, tried his luck in a venture “Nammina Bantu” in Chennai, but could not succeed immediately. Losing interest he went on to produce “Anuragam in 1963 with a few others joining in. It did not succeed and financially was a disaster. He returned to his native village and for some time devoted himself to the tobacco business. But the ‘film bug’ got the better of him. He returned to making his first film under his own Suresh Productions titled “Ramudu Bheemudu” in Telugu with the legendary N.T.Rama Rao as hero. Super-duper hit, it was followed by an even more successful “Prem Nagar” with A.Nageswara Rao. After that even Fate dare not stop him and he became the man with the ‘Midas touch’. Other noteworthy Telugu film box-office bonanzas were “Bobbilli Raja”, “Sri Krishna Tulabharam” “Indrudu Chandrudu”, “Ahana Pellanta” etc.
Producer and benefactor to the Indian film industry
17 films in Hindi including hits like ‘Tohfa’, ‘Prem Qaidi’, ‘Anari’, ‘Rakhwala’, he made films in other languages as well – Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada, Punjabi, Gujarati etc. Guinness Book of World Records lists him under ‘single producer producing the most number of films’ category – approx. 150 plus. He has besides been personally instrumental in launching stars like Venkatesh (his own son), Harish, Vanishri, Aryan Rajesh, Tabu, Khushboo, Allari Naresh and Malasree besides Karishma Kapoor herself. The entire galaxy of stars in various woods – Tollywood, Bollywood, Mollywood, Kollywood figured in his films. Yet he also gave a chance to various newcomers to make their launch in their respective industry with confidence. He had a penchant for ‘story’ being above the ‘cast’ and believed that the director would take care of the acting part but if the story did not merit attention it would surely bomb at the box office. A taskmaster but a kindly man, he personally oversaw many things in the routine day-to-day- work to see that films were completed as per schedule. No wonder success was his by right.
Rama Naidu Studios came up in the 80s in the new city of Hyderabad, when the Telugu film industry shifted from Chennai and became the base for Tollywood to set firm base here.
His awards and achievements
- 2012 he won the Padma Bhushan for his contribution to Telugu cinema.
- 2009 he got the Dadasaheb Phalke award for Lifetime achievement in the film industry for outstanding contribution for growth and development of Indian cinema.
- 2001 – 5 Nandi awards from the Govt . of Andhra Pradesh
So many Best producer and Best Film awards over the years, it is an exhaustive list. Not to mention the ‘N’ number of awards from various prestigious instituted awards, societies and other reputed bodies.
The man who excelled in social life too
When Rama Naidu could breathe a little easier with his sons Suresh and Venkatesh handling Suresh Studios well and Venkatesh himself a star in his own right, he had a closer association with society and its various segments other than the film industry. He started the Rama Naidu Charitable Trust that included a Home for the Aged. He entered politics with a TDP (Telugu Desam Party) ticket from Bapatla constituency in 1999, won and stayed on till 2004. In the subsequent elections with Daggubatti Purandeshwari (NTR’s daughter) being his fielded opponent from Congress, he chose not to fight and withdrew. Reason – her husband was related to him and he believed, family ties should not suffer on account of politics.
The village from where he hailed – Karamchedu is in deep shock on hearing about his demise. Despite being a busy man and an MP he was very much attached to his village and was always in contact with it. People who sought his assistance, financial or otherwise were never disappointed, nor were many a youth who got a chance to tread foot in the film industry. Yet they were unaware that his kindly man was suffering from such an illness. For them he remained God till now and with his passing away, time alone could maybe heal the void they feel in their lives.
His body may be consigned to the flames at Rama Naidu Studios, Filmnagar, Hyderabad, on Thursday, 19.2.2015, in a well-attended funeral comprising people from all walks of society, but the legend that goes by the name of D.Rama Naidu will live on forever in the minds of all who had a chance to meet the persona at close range or were beneficiaries of his good works in cinema; be it production, career launches or on a more personal level.