Profile: Dasari Narayana Rao, the 'Star Director'!

Wednesday, May 31, 2017 - 12:45

Born in Palakollu on 4 May 1942, Dasari had keen passion for acting right from childhood. It was his interest in theatre which drew him to cinema. He became a writer and, with the encouragement of his producer K Raghava, turned into a director with 'Thatha Manavadu', considered an experiment because comedian Raja Babu was its hero, while the grandpa's role was played by SV Ranga Rao. Notably, he wielded the megaphone just five years after entering the industry.

After the risky project turned out to be a hit, Dasari didn't have to look back. 'Tirupathi' and 'Evariki Vare Yamuna Theere' followed. The experiments failed. It was Sobhan Babu-starrer 'Bali Peetham' which again became a hit. 'Swargam Narakam', 'Manushulantha Okkate', 'Thoorpu Padamara', 'Yavvanam Katesindi', 'Padavoyi Bharateeyuda', 'Devadasu Malli Puttadu', 'Katakatala Rudrayya', 'Idekkadi Nyayam' - they all belonged to different genres. Between 1975 and 1980, the prolific director made 25 films. 'Sardar Paparayudu' and 'Premabhishekam' catapulted him to the top league. 'Swayam Varam' with Sobhan Babu, 'Bobbili Puli' with NTR, 'Meghasandesham' with ANR made him a force to reckon with.

After 'Tandrapaparayudu' and 'Majnu', Dasari's career slowed down. 'Orey Riksha' and 'Osey Ramulamma' in late 1990s were exceptions. As an actor, 'Swayam Varam', 'MLA Edukondalu', 'Mama Garu', 'Soori Gadu', 'Hitler', 'Parvathalu Panakalu', 'Mayabazaar', 'Mama Kodalu', 'Osey Ramulamma' and 'Mestri' are some of the films featuring his famous acts.

Calling him an all-rounder would be an understatement. That's because while the term tells you that he can write stories, screenplays, dialogues and songs, all the while excelling as a director, it doesn't talk about his business acumen. Most of the writing talent have no mind for commerce. Dasari, as in many cases, is an exception. Foraying into production and distribution, he has made a mark of his own in the segment.

There was a time when almost all directors/writers had one common quality: they felt making socially responsible movies was their contribution to art. Dasari, without doubt, was a front-line representative of such thinking. His sharp dialogues took a bold dig at contemporary political cynicism. His films, ranging from 'Sardaar Paparayudu' to 'Osey Ramulamma' had heroes and heroines who questioned the exploitative system. His protagonists spoke truth to power. Through all this, Dasari became an inspiration to countless aspirants.

When it comes to spotting talent, Dasari was a nonpareil. The likes of Mohan Babu owe their career to him. Murali Mohan grew in strength thanks to him. Jayasudha essayed brilliant acts in his direction. Sujatha broadened her horizons with his encouragement. The legendary actors like NT Rama Rao and Akkineni Nageshwara Rao essayed some of the most memorable roles in his remarkable products. Nagarjuna had his first big hit because of him.

It's not for nothing that Tollywood's who's who see him as their 'Guru'. From the likes of Kodi Ramakrishna and Raviraja Pinishetty, who are his proteges, the list of his admirers is long.

Long before the likes of Ram Gopal Varma commanded BO clout by the virtue of their name, TFI found a precursor in Dasari. The most prolific director who has directed 151 films, he knew the audience's pulse as an elementary lesson. A trendsetter, making path breaking cinema was his forte. His fans will tell you that Dasari's raison d' etre was his dialogues. The most fecund dialogue-writer ever, his lines have wit, anguish and sentiment. By '70s and '80s, songs came to occupy importance in Telugu cinema. And Dasari's films had intense, situational songs, music-directed by the likes of Ramesh Naidu and chakravarthy.

His true-to-life depiction of the grim realities of cine world in such films as 'Addala Meda' and 'Shivaranjani' came in for critical acclaim. When he watched clean entertainment, Dasari made sure he endorsed it with eloquence. Show him cheap entertainment, he would be brutally honest. Dasari's unforgiving pot-shots at stalking and harassment of the heroine in romantic-comedies is a case in point.

One of his complaints was that our directors are not exploring local talent. He often lamented that superb character artistes like Rao Ramesh and Jayaprakash Reddy remained in oblivion because of the neglect of 'mana valla' talent. 

All in all, he was master director, a true legend of Telugu cinema.