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Legends of Tollywood World

Akkineni Nageswara Rao || Bhanumati || Dasari Narayana Rao || Jandhyala || Kamal Hasan || Krishna || Nagarjuna Akkineni || N.T.Rama Rao || Raghupathi Venkaiah Naidu || Savithri || Somayajulu ||

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KANTHA RAO
A deprived legend: T L Kantha Rao

an exclusive INTERVIEW with T L Kantha Rao.
Telugu cinema created certain symbols that penetrated into the lives of Telugu people so much that one can not imagine a folk hero without Kantha Rao, the folk hero whose peak was when folk films by Janapada Brahma Vithalacharya were ruling the roost. Not just a folk hero, who fights flashing a sword with ease, Nata Prapurna also symbolises the puranic role of Narada as NTR symbolises Krishna, and SVR symbolises Ravana. However, it is unfortunate to know the legend of one time, who enjoyed all the fame and name equivalent to many other legends, is now accepting petty roles in films and TV serials in order to sustain himself and his family in his late 70s.


Telugucinema began the interview with a formal 'How do you do' but over time the conversation flowed into a more personal and intimate chat.
With the grace of Saibaba (he is just back from Puttaparthi attending the birthday celebrations of Saibaba) everything is OK.
But how do you explain the present state of affairs, the folk hero of one time living in such a small place and doing petty roles at this age?
It's a question I often encounter. You see I have gained everything in films and lost too in the films.
Could you elaborate?
Though I was never as rich as my contemporaries I was comfortable with whatever I had. But when the film industry turned political and banners started taking sides with certain heroes I wanted to make my own way. And I tried to make films. In the first set i.e. between 1969 and 1974, I made four films, Sapthaswaralu, Gandaragandadu, Premajeevulu and Gundelu Theesina Monagadu and I lost all my previous earnings and left with a house only. I last that too when I made Swathi Chinukulu in the late 80s.
Were those films really that bad.....
In fact they were not. Some of them failed at box office and some of them did well too. But I couldn't make money in either case. There were politics, all kinds of politics and there were people who didn't want me to be successful as a producer and the people killed the films intentionally.

Actually I planned to sell the home in the 80s, the only asset I left with and come to Hyderabad to settle down peacefully. But somebody who was planning a comeback pressurised me to make a film assuring success. But finally the actor turned greedy and I had to give a power of attorney and I was not returned a single pie I have invested in the film. That's the lost nail on the coffin. With that I was swept away with what all I have and I am forced to shift to Hyderabad to live in a horrible condition. The real hurt is not due to the money I lost. The politics continue till today. Certain people still try to keep me aside especially when it comes to awards or any other benefits that an actor of my stature deserves.

How do you really manage yourself without any funds to support?
I actually don't like to talk about these things as people start pitying me. But as a matter of fact I am doing any role of a minute or two minutes also just to keep my family going. I feel it's not wrong to take up those roles. I need not feel ashamed of it. Let me die when I am on the makeup. And it's an honour. But let me confess, most of the time the roles are created for me as an honour. When compared to Savitri, R Nageswara Rao and Nagaiah, I am far better. But the pain hurts me certain times that why there is so much of injustice and bias towards me. Nobody is really cared to acknowledge the real contributors to the industry. I feel bad when I learn people being insensitive and unfair to me. When people know my state of affairs they come forward with donations. They send personal money orders. But I am not for such alms. If their intention is to honour me there are many ways to do that. At this age should I look only for money and can't I also expect the honour I am due for?
All those who are willing to do something to these great legends, here is a chance for you. In April of 2001, Jamuna garu will be arranging a Show "Sri Krishna Thulabaram" in most of the cities across USA, Please find time to attend these programs and Facilitate these great artists who are coming with her.

About Kantha Rao Garu
T L Kantha Rao (Tadepalli Lakshmi Kantha Rao) who doesn't need any introduction for a Telugu cinema lover was born on November 11, 1923 in a small village Gudibanda in Nalgonda district. He joined films unexpectedly when he went to meet his friend, then working in Rohini Films of H M Reddy in Madras. He did a small role in 1950 as a farmer in Nirdoshi in a hurriedly made arrangement. It gained him a hero's role in Rohini's Pratigna in 1952. He essayed a folk hero and learned sword fighting in the same film. His swarna yugam as an actor started with Vithalacharya's era of folk films. Simultaneously he did puranic roles where he always played as Krishna when NTR was Arjuna. He symbolised Narada after Seetharama Kalyanam. He did many multi-hero films with NTR and ANR in both puranic and social films. He was honoured in a bang when he finished 101 films at his native place Kodad where thousands of people from the state turned to such a remote place. On the whole he did about 450 films including small roles. His favourites are Sapthaswaralu, Edureetha, Santhinivasam, Guruvunu Minchina Sishyudu, Jagamerigina Satyam and Ekaveera.

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