Dasari Narayana Rao: A trendsetting director
This week, we have three iconic film personalities who were either born or who died during the same period. Two of them – music director Naushad Ali...
This week, we have three iconic film personalities who were either born or who died during the same period. Two of them – music director Naushad Ali (1919-2006) and playback singer Manna Dey (1919-2013) – had been written about in the earlier columns, chronicling their highs and lows in the film industry.
That leaves us with one gentleman – Dasari Narayana Rao (1942-2017) – who was not just a local celebrity as a director, producer, writer and actor – but also made a mark in Hindi, beginning four decades ago with a remake of his own 1975 hit Telugu film ‘Swargam Narakam’.
The journey continued from hereon for the next two decades in which Dasari made more than a dozen Hindi films, almost all of them remakes from the Telugu originals, in which he was responsible for the re-launch of Dimple Kapadia in ‘Zakhmi Sher’ in 1984. This was prior to her much publicised pairing with Rishi Kapoor in ‘Saagar’, which hit the theatres a year later, in 1985.
It also heralded the era when politics became the mainstay of commercial cinema and his Telugu film ‘MLA Yedukondalu’ was remade as ‘Aaj Ka MLA’, which created a controversy with its title. The opposition was for the imputation made with it as if it was a status check on the lawmakers. It had Rajesh Khanna as its lead star and for a brief period, it set off a competition in the box office as Amitabh Bachchan too had come up with a political movie ‘Inquilaab’, a few weeks prior to the Khanna starrer. Rather interestingly, none of these two films lived up to the hype and build up and slithered out of theatres, unnoticed, by and large.
In fact, this decade was the tenure in which many Telugu film banners and its helmsmen constantly took up remake films in Bombay film world, creating their own brand of filmmaking and also lending a different, comic villain image to two stars – Shakti Kapoor and Kader Khan – whose imbecile antics are still remembered till date. Critically speaking, this was a low point for the big guns of southern cinema who had to battle the image of not producing anything originally entertaining for a long time from this phase.
Yet, among the average flicks that bombarded the silver screens in the upcountry regions of India, Dasari’s films – ‘Jyoti Bane Jwala’, ‘Pyaasa Saawan’ , to name a few, made a mark and did well too.This big gun of Telugu cinema was born on May 4 and died on May 30, a year ago.