Remembering NT Rama Rao: 5 Things You Cannot Miss About His Life

Legendary Telugu actor and former Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, Nandamuri Taraka Rama Rao, popularly known as NTR, would have been 98 years old today if he were alive. On his birth anniversary, The Better Andhra looks at the rich legacy he has left behind, both in the film industry and politics.

1. Spirit of Entrepreneurship

N.T. Rama Rao embodied the spirit of entrepreneurship in a period when a government job was considered a key to a secure and comfortable life. He quit his sub-registrar job to pursue opportunities in film acting in the late 1940s. 
2. How films changed his life 

NTR made his screen debut in a minor role of a police officer in Mana Desam (1949), and as they say, the rest is history. His first lead role was Palletoori Pilla. Director Kadiri Venkata Reddy's iconic movie Pathala Bhairavi catapulted him to superstardom, and he never looked back. 

NTR found tremendous success by bringing to life numerous mythological characters in Mayabazaar, Daana Veera Soora Karna, Vinayaka Chavithi, Bhookailas, Seetarama Kalyanam, Lava Kusa and many others. 

The most iconic movie NTR ever created was Daana Veera Soora Karna, based on Mahabharata, in 1977. He wrote, produced, directed and played multiple lead roles in this magnum opus which is still applauded for, across the world. NTR played the roles of Karna, Lord Krishna and Duryodhana in that movie. It is not an exaggeration to say that it was the biggest movie event of the 70s.

Of the 300 films in NTR's career, a significant number of them were directed by the actor himself. He also wrote screenplays for many of his films. 

3. Attaining the demi-god status through films 

NTR rose through the ranks of the film industry and achieved demi-god status by playing the role of Lord Venkateshwara in Sri Venkateswara Mahatyam. So much so that a pilgrimage to Tirupati was not complete for many without getting ‘NTR Darshanam’ at his house.

Meanwhile, NTR won several prestigious awards, including three National Awards. He was bestowed with the Padma Shri in 1968. No other actor after NTR has managed to garner unconditional love and devotion from fans of Telugu cinema.

4. Politics & beyond 

Even after his death, the legacy of the founder of Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and former Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister dominates the political scene in one way or the other.

After entering his 60th year, he had decided to devote a part of his life to public good and social service. When his fans and friends proposed that he should take to politics to do something for the society, he agreed. This was another turning point in his life.

He lost no time in forming the Telugu Desam party and hitting the road in 1982. His slogan: Samajame devalayam, prajale naa devullu caught the imagination of the masses.

What unfolded in the weeks and months to come boggled the imagination alike of the people, the media and most of all, politicians.

5. Man of the masses 

People waited for hours to catch a glimpse of their screen god in their new avatar. The party’s signature tune, Maa Telugu thalliki mallepuvvu danda, heralded the arrival of the ratham with an electrifying effect. The response would invariably be overwhelming. He would be late by 24 hours, sometimes even longer. But people would wait regardless. They would camp right on the roadside, bringing along cots, stoves and utensils just to make sure they did not miss him. Women would stop the ratham to offer harathi.

Two aspects of NTR’s style of establishing rapport with the people stood out for their hypnotic appeal. Not for him the worn-out sodara, sodarimanulaara. He stirred the heart-strings of the audience with ‘naa Teluginti aadapaduchalaara, thammullaara.’ No politician had done this before. 

None can match Nandamuri Taraka Rama Rao’s game-changing campaign style for its novelty, colour, reach and above all response. He successfully defeated the Congress in the 1983 assembly elections.

He chose to take oath as the Chief Minister not at the Raj Bhavan but in the presence of  ‘naa prajalu’ at the Lal Bahadur stadium on January 9, 1983. Another out of the box idea put into practice. His Chief Ministership also introduced several revolutionary reforms which broke many stereotypes and ensured equality for all. 

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