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Nandamuri Taraka Rama Rao (born Nimmakuru, Krishna District, Andhra Pradesh; 28 May 1923 – 18 January 1996), popularly known by his initials NTR, was an Indian film actor, director, producer, and a politician. He is also called as "Anna Garu"(Elder Brother) by Telugu People.
Rama Rao made his debut as an actor in Mana Desam, a Telugu social film directed by L. V. Prasad in 1949. He first gained popularity in the 1950s when he became well known for his portrayals of Hindu deities, especially Lord Krishna and Lord Rama, roles which have made him a "messiah of the masses" in Andhra Pradesh.
He later became known for portraying antagonistic characters and cementing leading roles in films. In total he starred in over 320 Telugu films and has become one of the most prominent figures in the history of Telugu cinema. Besides Telugu, he has also acted in a few Tamil and Kannada films. Widely recognised for his mythological characters, of the time, N.T. Rama Rao was one of the leading mythological, method actors of Indian cinema, He was referred to in the media as "Viswa Vikhyatha Nata Sarvabhouma".
After his career in movies, Rama Rao became a political activist and a political party leader. Rao founded the Telugu Desam Party in 1982 and served three tumultuous terms as Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh between 1983 and 1994. He was awarded the Padma Shri by the Government of India in 1968, recognizing his contribution to Telugu cinema. He is known as an advocate of Andhra Pradesh's distinct cultural identity, distinguishing it from Madras State with which it was often associated.
Born in Nimmakuru, a small village in Gudivada taluk on 28 May 1923, NTR had his early education from tutor Valluru Subba Rao, in his native village. His parents, Venkataramamma and Laxmaiah, gave him in adoption to the latter's brother, Ramaiah and his wife Chandramma. He spent the following years in Yanamalakuduru, a small village near Vijayawada by the banks of river Krishna, at the home of D. Buchi Venkata Krishna Chowdary.
He passed the matriculation examination in 1940 and joined the SRR and CVR College in Vijayawada. While doing his Intermediate course, he supplemented the family income by supplying milk to hotels in Vijayawada on his bicycle. At the end of the first year, the students decided to stage a play written by Viswanadha Satyanarayana, the well-known Telugu poet and writer and the head of the Telugu department of the college.
He joined the Andhra-Christian College at Guntur for the Bachelor of Arts course in 1945. From a young age he showed an interest in singing and developed a baritone singing voice as a young man.
In May 1942, at the age of 20, NTR married Basava Tarakam, the daughter of his maternal uncle. The couple had seven sons Nandamuri Rama Krishna, Nandamuri Jayakrishna, Harikrishna, Balakrishna and late Nandamuri Saikrishna, Jayashankara krishna and Mohana krishna and four daughters Daggubati Purandareswari, Lokeswari, Bhuvaneswari and Uma Maheswari.
Commemorating his son Ramakrishna, who predeceased him, NTR founded the film studio Ramakrishna Studios in Nacharam. Nandamuri Harikrishna is a child actor-turned-politician elected to the Rajya Sabha, representing Telugu Desam party. Nandamuri Balakrishna is one of the lead actors of the Telugu film industry, while Jayakrishna was a noted cinematographer. NTR's grandsons N. T. Rama Rao Jr., Nandamuri Kalyan Ram and Taraka Ratna are all actors in Telugu cinema
While, Bhuvaneswari is the spouse of politician Nara Chandrababu Naidu, the former Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh.Daggubati Purandareswari is a politician currently serving as the Minister of State in the Ministry of Human Resource Development.
N. T. Rama Rao started his career playing a police inspector in the movie Mana Desam (1949). The role was offered by director L V Prasad. Next he appeared in Palletoori Pilla, directed by B. A. Subba Rao. It marked the first occasion that Rama Rao and Akkineni Nageswara Rao acted together for the first time.The title role was played by Anjali Devi and the story was loosely based on the English play, Pizaro by Richard Sherton. The film was a commercial hit and ran for more than 100 days in 6 centres. He appeared in over 320 films, although only around 292 films are often accounted for.
He portrayed Lord Krishna in some of the landmark films in Telugu like Maya Bazaar, Sri Krishnarjuna Yudham and Daana Veera Soora Karna. He played Lord Rama in Lava Kusa, Ravana in Bhookailas (1958 film) & Seetharama Kalyanam, Bruhannala in Narthanasala. He has also enacted the roles of Bheeshma and Arjuna. Later he became a screenwriter. Rao received no formal academic training in movie script writing. Yet he authored several screen plays for his own movies as well as for other producer's movies.
He actively campaigned for the construction of a large number of cinemas through his film production house National art theater private limited in T. Nagar. He was influential in designing and implementing a financial system that funded the production and distribution of movies.
Main article: Chief Ministership of N. T. Rama Rao
Rao founded the Telugu Desam Party in 1982 and served as Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh. His stated reason for founding the Telugu Desam Party was based on a historic need to rid the state of the corrupt and inept Congress rule. When he started his political career he was already a very popular actor in the Telugu film industry. Rama Rao was unanimously elected leader of Telugu Dasam Legislature Party on 8 January 1983 with 10 cabinet ministers and five ministers of State. He became the 10th Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh and was reelected three times between 1983 and 1994.
To promote the Telugu Desam Party, Rama Rao travelled across the state of Andhra Pradesh, crisscrossing all the districts, in his van dubbed "Chaitanya Ratham" (Chaitanyam literally means bringing to life or movement). With his son Hari Krishna as a driver, Rama Rao notched up over 75,000 kilometres during his 1982 campaign, a distinctive sight with the van's yellow party flags and banners and Rao sitting on top of the vehicle hailing the crowds. Rama Rao campaigned for restoring the dignity of the Telugu people and advocated the forming a closer bond between the government and the common people, going into the elections with the slogan, Telugu vari Atma Gauravam, meaning "Telugu people's self-respect. He reflected socialist views in several of his policies in that he believed that state must take care of the people that are below poverty line and everyone must have their basic necessities fulfilled. He campaigned to secure basic necessities such as home, clothes and food for the people and to provide subsidies on clothes and houses to the needy. He was also an advocate of women's rights and worked on a bill to amend inheritance law to provide equal rights for women to inherit ancestral property, enacted later, in 1986.
Rama Rao's extensive tour in the Chaitanya Ratham vehicle helped to successfully mobilize people and recruit potential leaders and members for his newly founded party. The Congress Party, then in power, panicked at the response and replaced the Chief Minister Bhavanam Venkataram with a more experienced and seasoned leader, Kotla Vijaya Bhaskara Reddy. Reddy, who was Chief Minister for just over 3 months, could not secure victory for the Congress Party in the ensuing elections in January 1983. The newly formed Telugu Desam Party won with significant margins in all three regions of the State (Coastal Andhra, Rayala Seema, and Telengana), winning over 200 seats in the 294 seat State Assembly against 56 seats by the Congress Party. Rama Rao himself contested elections from two constituencies, Tirupathi in Chittor District and Gudivada in Krishna district, and won both the seats.
On Independence Day, 15 August 1984, Rama Rao was removed from office by the then-governor Ramlal. His finance minister, Nadendla Bhaskara Rao, a former Congress man, was made the Chief Minister by the Ramlal. Bhaskar Rao purportedly had the support of majority MLAs (Members of Legislative Assembly of Andhra Pradesh) which was never the case. Rama Rao disputed the claims by Bhaskara Rao and demonstrated his strength by bringing all the MLAs supporting him, which was a majority in the 294 member assembly, to the Raj Bhavan (Governor's Office). Governor Ramlal did not relent and Rama Rao campaigned for restoration of democracy by mobilizing the support of people and various political parties in the country including Janata Party, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Communist Party of India (CPI), Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPM), Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), and National Conference. During the one month crisis, the MLAs supporting Rama Rao were secured in a secret place to avoid horse-trading. Due to mobilization of several political parties and the people and due to bad press, Indira Gandhi, then Prime Minister and head of Congress Party, unwillingly removed Governor Ramlal and appointed a congress party veteran, Shankar Dayal Sharma, as governor of Andhra Pradesh to pave the way for restoring Rama Rao. Shankar Dayal Sharma removed Bhaskara Rao from power and restored Rama Rao as the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh in September 1984. He recommended dissolution of the Assembly and called for new elections in the state to ensure the people had a fresh choice to elect their representatives.
In the following month, on 31 October 1984, Indira Gandhi was assassinated. Rajiv Gandhi became Prime Minister in her place. In the ensuing national elections to the Lok Sabha, the Congress party won convincingly all over the country except in Andhra Pradesh where Rama Rao's Telugu Desam party secured a landslide victory. Senior Leaders of Congress party including Brahmananda Reddy, a former Chief Minister, and Vijaya Bhaskara Reddy, a former Chief Minister, lost in their constituencies of Narasarao Pet and Kurnool respectively to the Telugu Desam Party. Telugu Desam became the main opposition party in the Lok Sabha.
The Telugu Desam Party operations were significantly computerized and a systematic local party structure was built and this resulted in the establishment of a stable second political party that survived his death. Rao introduced the concept of strong states with a strong center in his discussions about state power with Gandhi and ushered in a new era of empowered local governments, within the framework of India.
He suffered a mild stroke and was unable to campaign in the 1989 election, which he lost.
Third term and coup
N.T. Rama Rao returned to power in 1994 winning 250 seats (Telugu Desam won 226; CPI: 19; CPM: 05) for his party and his allies in a 294 seat Assembly. Congress party won only 26 seats. The BJP which contested 280 seats on its own won just three seats.
A few months into his third term, Rama Rao was unceremoniously overthrown as Chief minister. On 23 August, Rama Rao's son-in-law Chandrababu Naidu engineered a internal party coup against him and assumed the post of Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh on 1 September 1995. He was also chosen as president of the Telugu Desam Party by party members. Naidu is said to have convinced most of the members by stating that Rama Rao was going to hand over the reins to his wife Lakshmi Parvati and claimed that the party was in danger of disintegrating under her rule. Some 150 MLAs sided with Naidu and camped at the Viceroy Hotel in Hyderabad, the centre of the revolt. Rama Rao's sons Nandamuri Harikrishna, Nandamuri Balakrishna and son-in-law Daggubati Venkateswara Rao played a crucial role in the coup but fell out with Naidu soon afterwards. Naidu is said have promised to make Venkateswara Rao, the Deputy Chief minister and Harikrishna, the party's general secretary, but he sidelined them soon after becoming the Chief minister and Party president. According to Daggubati Venkateswara Rao, Naidu is said to have gained support of party MLAs by misrepresenting facts and stating that he was saving the party.
Daggubati Venkateswara Rao fell out with Naidu within 15 days and returned to the Rama Rao camp. He claimed that Rama Rao had such a hatred of Naidu that he had asked his film actor son Nandamuri Balakrishna to 'murder' Naidu and show him the sword stained with Naidu's blood. Venkateswara Rao clarified saying "I don't think he really meant to kill him but, unable to give voice to his pain, he said that". In an emotional interview after the coup, Rama Rao called the coup a "planned treachery" and ridiculed Naidu for being power-hungry and untrustworthy, likening him to Aurangzeb, the Mughal Emperor who jailed his father and killed his siblings to become the King of the Mughal Empire.
NTR's first wife, Basava Tarakam, died of cancer in 1985. The Basavatarakam Indo American Cancer Hospital & Research Institute was established in her memory in Hyderabad. In 1993, at the age of 70, NTR married Lakshmi Parvathi. After the succession of Telugu Desam party by Nara Chandrababu Naidu, Lakshmi Parvathi founded her own political party NTR Telugu Desam Party (Lakshmi Parvathi).
NTR National Award
NTR National Award is a National level Award instituted in the honor of Sri.N.T.Rama Rao by the state of Andhra Pradesh government. The NTR National Award is an annual award to recognize people for their lifetime achievements and contributions to the Indian film industry. It is an award considered in prestige next only to Dadasaheb Phalke Award for film industry personalities in India. The Award carries a cash prize of 500,000/- and a memento. The award has been given since 1996.