NTR : Kathanayakudu (The Hero) , Mahanayakudu (A Great Leader)

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As a  budding politician,he criss-crossed Andhra Pradesh  in a Chevrolet van ,driven around by his son. To overcome the hassles involved in  management of election meetings, NTR stood atop this Chaitanya Ratha ,wearing Khakhis,and roused the soul of Andhra by invoking the Telugu pride .

 

As a Chief Minister,he offered rice at Rs 2 per kg,making good his promise  which had captured the imagination of millions. NTR amended the Hindu Succession Act at the state level to give equal default property rights to women. He implemented the Telugu Ganga Project (Krishna Water Supply Project) by digging canals to provide drinking water to Madras,which on their way supply water for irrigation to Rayalseema. In 7 tumultous years over three terms as CM ,these were remarkable achievements.

 

As a method actor,deeply devoted to filmmaking,he stood transfixed for 20 hours while shooting Bhookailasa so that all ten heads of Ravana could appear one by one on the screen. NTR completed the shooting of a song and dance sequence even after receiving the news of his son’s demise. His devotion to his art was complete.

 

As an institution in cinema,he wrote the story and screenplay,directed,produced and performed the roles of Karna,Duryodhana and Krishna in Daan Veer Soor Karna. NTR ,on the advice on ANR (Akkineni Nageshwar Rao) and along with Ramoji Rao,helped in developing Hyderabad as the hub of Telugu cinema.He acted in 274 Telugu,15 Tamil and 3 Hindi films.

 

As a young man he was a success. He cleared the Madras Public Service examination and was appointed as a sub-registrar.But he quit his job within a month, purportedly because he could not stand rampant petty corruption. He already had an offer from L.V.Prasad to act in cinema,and now he set off to Madras to realise his dream.

 

NTR was already married  by then to Tarakam ,who stoically and enthusiastically saw him off. Tarakam and NTR shared a very warm relationship ,and she bore him 12 children.Vidya Balan has played a very sweet and understated role in the two films. Some of their best scenes  capture the wonderful chemistry between the couple – when she bids him goodbye as he leaves for Madras,when she teaches him how to play a harmonium during a film shoot or when they travel to US to get advanced treatment,they are pure magic.

 

Once in Madras,NTR struggled for some time,but received warm encouragement and valuable help from Director L.V.Prasad,who had realised his potential early on.NTR never quite looked back after his debut in 1949,and went on to establish himself as a mega star.He first played Krishna in Mayabazar in 1957,and ended up playing the role 17 times. He also starred as Rama and many other deities  and mythological characters of Mahabharata in numerous films. He played a variety of roles – mythological, a poor man fighting against injustice,Alluri Sitarama Raju and many others,and is widely considered among the best of Indian actors.

 

As an wronged elected leader of his state,he lodged a such strong protest movement against Indira Government and Governor Ram Lal that Delhi was shaken to its core.He forged  pan-Opposition unity,led marches throughout the state and raised such pandemonium that Ram Lal was recalled,Shankar Dayal Sharma was sent in as the new governor,the usurper N.Bhaskar Rao was asked to resign after 31 days and for the only time ever ,a dismissed CM was reinstalled . Chandrababu Naidu,his son-in-law looked after logistics during those difficult days ,while son N.Harikrishna again drove him around the state .

 

As a social worker ,he relentlessly toured the state and along with ANR collected enormous funds for Rayalseema flood victims. His people were always in his mind. NTR became Krishna in 17 of his films . His photos adorned many a Andhra homes. Believers flocked to his home to have his darshana. Everyday he used to listen to their problems. At 60,he decided to dedicate rest of his life to bring about change and betterment. In 1982, he founded the Telugu Desam.

 

Kathanayakudu covers the story uptill here. Mahanayakudu takes over from when he wins his first election and becomes the first non-Congress CM of Andhra, and finishes the story at the legendary reinstallation after the unceremonious dismissal .A lot happened after that.

 

NTR won 30 out of 42 seats in 1984 LOk Sabha polls ,and TDP became the main Opposition party in the country. He swept the 1984 Assembly elections as well and remained CM for 5 years.Although, TDP lost in 1989 state polls,NTR played a key role in the formation of the National Front government at the Centre.He married his biographer,Lakshmi Parvati,and antagonised his family in the process. NTR came back to power with a thumping majority in 1994,but a coup by Naidu led to his ouster in September 1995. He passed away soon after,in January 1996.

 

 

An intrepid fighter who always gave his one hundred percent  ,a compassionate man of the masses ,an unbending spirit and a force of nature,that was Nandamuri Tarak Ramarao. The first and the greatest superstar of Telugu cinema,a great method actor,a workaholic legend,a veritable avatar of Krishna for his supporters – it is difficult to capture his persona even in almost five hours of screentime spread over two films. NTR was an instituition in himself ,the Andhra Gaurav reincarnated.

 

The films might not have worked commercially,but they are quite well written and directed. Nandamuri Balakrishna’s performance is subliminal. He has lived NTR on screen.  N.Kalyan Ram (N.Harikrishna), Rana Daggubati (N. Chandrababu Naidu),Sachin Khedekar (N.Bhaskar Rao),Sumanth (ANR) and Jisshu,Prakash Raj ,Nasser and numerous others have done good jobs as well. The focus of the film is to keep away from controversies,capture the NTR phenomena on screen and in politics,recreate the life and times of NTR and people around him and show his love and connect with the Telugu people. Hats off to Krish and N.Balakrishna for this effort.

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