The Telugu film industry may be gloating over the fact that three Telugu film personalities have figured among the all-time greats of Indian cinema in the postal stamps issued commemorating the 100 years of Indian cinema, but injustice has been done to the biggest of them all. Raghupathi Venkaiah, a Telugu, revered as the father of South Indian cinema, has been ignored in the list of the \’50 iconic personalities of Indian cinema\’. The postal stamps, brought out by the department of posts, were released by the President Pranab Mukherjee on May 3.Such is the reverence for Raghupathi Venkaiah that the state government had instituted an award in his name in 1981 to honour film personalities for their contribution.
The three Telugu personalities who have made it to the \’Iconic 50\’ are Allu Ramalingaiah, Bhanumathi Ramakrishna and S V Ranga Rao – all of whom are no more. Allu Ramalingaiah, a comedian and father-in-law of Union minister of state for tourism Chiranjeevi, acted in over 1,000 films. Bhanumathi was a singer-actor and S V Ranga Rao was well-known for portraying mythological roles with panache. Incidentally, Allu Ramalingaiah and Bhanumathi were recipients of the Raghupathi Venkaiah award.
Hailing from Machilipatnam, Raghupathi Venkaiah, the son of an armyman, set up a photo studio in Madras at Mount Road in 1906. Spending as much as Rs 30,000 in those days, he imported a \’chronomegaphone\’ and started screening shorts films in \’tents\’. He even went to Sri Lanka and Burma to screen movies.
In 1912, Venkaiah constructed \’Gaity\’, which was the first full-fledged theatre. Some of the films that he exhibited there included \’Million Dollar Mystery\’ and \’Mysteries of Meera\’. Later he went on to build another theatre called \’Crown\’ on Mint Street. The following year, in 1913, he started his own production house \’Star of the East Films\’ and also set up the \’Glass Studio\’ for film shootings. \”He was practically the first exhibitor, distributor and producer in South India,\” film historian Udayawarlu said.
Raghupathi Venkaiah sent his son Prakash abroad to study filmmaking and he made films like \’Bhishma Pratigna\’, \’Gajendra Moksham\’, etc. \”There is no doubt Raghupathi Venkaiah is the father of South Indian cinema. He should have most certainly figured in the \’Iconic 50\’. It is not a good feeling that he has been left out,\” Tammareddy Bharadwaja, president, A P Film chamber of commerce said when contacted.
Earlier during the day, film industry personalities including Movie Artistes Association (MAA) president M Muralimohan, Tammareddy Bharadwaja, K Ashok Kumar , C Kalyan and others took pride in the fact that three Telugu film personalities made it to the \’Iconic list\’. \”We will write to the authorities on how important a personality he was,\” Bharadwaja said.(Source-Times of India)