In an industry infested with lack of budget controls, he knew the secret of producing films within the estimated costs. He had a crystal clear clarity literally about every aspect of making a film and effectively supervised even the minute aspects. He would not mind to pull a trolley on the sets in case of need! Artistes and technicians were paid their promised remunerations in full before the completion of a particular film; again a practice followed more in breach in the world of cinema.
He never compromised with his set of personal values during his unusually long innings of over half a century as a producer of films.The hit or failure of a movie never affected his starkly professional attitude as a producer of cinema. He maintained his cool when accepted and rejected as well by the box office.That was Daggubati Ramanaidu, who passed away at the age of 79 on the 18 February, 2015.
He believed in the essentiality of the raw material called story for making a successful film. He never allowed changes to the ‘bound’ script ,which he used to finalise before the start of the shoot. He remained active in his search for viable and acceptable subjects for his films. He believed that the hunt for good stories has its own time tested rewards. Perhaps this penchant for stories made him produce several films based on popular Telugu novels.
‘Prem Nagar’ (1971) was based on a successful novel of the same name by the noted novelist Koduri Kousalya Devi. Her other novel ‘Chakravakam’ was made into a film with the same name in 1974. Ramanaidu essayed a full length role as an actor in the film as one of the brothers of the lead man Sobhan Babu. ‘Jeevana Tarangaalu’ (1973), ‘Secretary’ (1976), and ‘Agni Poolu’ (1981) were massive commercial hits based on the star novelist Yaddanapudi Sulochana Rani’s novels.
‘Aha Naa Pellanta’ (1987) was based on Aadivishnu’s novel “Satyam Gaari Illu”. ‘Oka Challani Raatri’ (1979) was based on a novel by Dr Kommuri Venugopal Rao and ‘Sarpa Yaagam’ (1991) was the celluloid version of a novel by the renowned writer duo Paruchuri Brothers. Several successful directors owe their debut chance to Ramanaidu. GVR Seshagiri Rao, K Bapayya, Boyina Subba Rao, K Murali Mohan Rao, B Gopal, Chandra Mahesh, Ravi Babu are some successful names he had introduced into direction. His own desire to wield the megaphone never got translated into reality for want of time amidst hectic activity.
It was he who gave heroines like Divya Bharati, Taboo, Sanghavi, Anjala Jhaveri, Monica Bedi and Katrina Kaif an opportunity to work in Telugu films. In addition to his second son Venkatesh, he had introduced heroes like D Raja, Harish and Aryan Rajesh.Te story of his entry into film world is quite well known. He made an entry into Telugu cinema in 1963 as a partner for a Telugu film ‘Anuragam’.
Sooner, he established his own Suresh Productions and released his first film ‘Ramudu Bheemudu’ (1964), a blockbuster with NTR in a double role. Later he produced films with literally every big name in the Telugu cinema. For inevitable reasons of lack of dates from hero Krishna, he introduced his own son Venkatesh in ‘Kaliyuga Pandavulu’ and ‘victory’ Venkatesh (as he is fondly referred to) emerged in due course as a very successful star in his own right.
Apart from the glittering success he saw as a producer, he had tasted sickening failures too. Film making was an obsession for him. The obsession made him a winner and at times mercilessly pushed him into the realms of defeat. But the failures never made him desperate. He had with him, the innate ability to fight back a defeat and ascend the ladder once more. The basic quality of an indefatigable farmer remained undamaged with him throughout the long, glamorous and enchanting path he tread.
The Dada Saheb Phalke Award was conferred on him in 2009 for his lifetime contribution to Indian cinema. He received Padma Vibhushan in 2012. An honorary doctorate was given to him by the SV University at Tirupati. And a place in Guinness Book of world records is just another feather in his cap.
He served as a Lok Sabha Member from the Bapatla Constituency between 1999 and 2004. But politics, self confessedly, was a field inapt for him. He believed in paying back plenteously to the society and was a liberal donor for many a social cause. The School of Agriculture being run at Tuniki village of Medak district is a classic example for the fervour in the veins of Naidu.
He never got carried away by the ‘formula’ films and relied more on appealing subjects and methodic production values. Ramanaidu remains as a case in point to aspirants entering filmdom. The archetypal ethnicity he has established combining dedication, perseverance and at times urgency, are all values fit for emulation.He richly deserves the adage Movie Mughal !
By Rajagopal Tiruvayapati