For many years N.T. Rama Rao, former Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, dominated the Telugu screen. He acted in over three hundred films and was well known for his portrayal of religious figures. In recent years, one or two determined filmmakers such as Narasinga Rao, have sought to introduce a serious note to Telugu cinema.
Bhakta Prahlada released in 1931 was directed by H.M. Reddy, the film starred Surabhi Kamalabai, L.V. Prasad, Munipalle Subbaiah, and B.V. subba Rao. Telugu cinema's first sound film, the story was drawn from the Vishnu Purana legend of Prahlada who chooses to worship Vishnu despite his father Hiranyakashapu's wrath. A successful film shot in Mumbai at Krishna Studios.
In 1933 came a film named Prithvi Putra which was directed by Potina Srinivasa, the film starred K. Raghuramaiah, Parepalli Satyanarayana, and Surabhi Kamalabai. The film was based on the story of Narakasura - the demon who asks of Lord Krishnathat his death be marked by celebrations and observed every year, and that he be permitted to attend. This is believed to be the first Telugu film to be financed locally.
Ch. Narasimha Rao in 1934 made Seeta Kalyanam. The film starred Master Kalyani, Benzwada Rajatathnam, Madavapeddi Venkatramaiah, and T. Venkateshwaralu. This was the first Telugu film to include outdoor shooting, and was based on the mythological story of Sita.
In the year 1936, director due E. Nagabhushanam and S. B. Narayana, made Sampoorna Ramayana: the film starred Pushpavalli and Kadaru Raju. Noted for its faux pas rather than any special merit: the film featured a train during the 14-year exile of Lord Rama and Sita.
Grihalakshmi was directed by H.M. Reddy, the film starred Chittor V. Nagaiah, Gauripathy Sastry, Kanchanmala, Ramanujachari, P. Kannamba, and Sarala. A doctor is seduced by a dancer, and events lead to him becoming an alcoholic and accused of murder. He is helped out of his quagmire by his brother-in-law who also comes to the assistance of the doctor's wife. This was Nagaiah's debut film (as the brother-in-law) and made him an overnight star.
The film Dharmapatni was directed by P. Pullaiah, the film starred Shantakumari, P. Bhanumathi, Peddappuram Raju, Lakshminarasimha, A. Nageshwara Rao, Hanumantha Rao and Hemalatha. The film is about an orphaned young girl in the charge of a good-hearted prostitute. The heroine's arranged marriage is cancelled when the prostitute's profession is revealed. The hero marries another woman who ultimately reunites him with the heroine. The movie was in both Tamil and Telugu, and was the superstar A. Nageshwara Rao's first film.
In the year 1942 came Balanagamma, which was directed by C. Pullaiah, the film starred Kanchanmala, Pushpavalli, and G.V. Subba Rao. The megahit paved the way for similar fantasy films. An evil magician abducts a woman who successfully avoids him by keeping herself immersed in ritual. After a period of twelve years, she is liberated by her son. The film adopted the Burra Katha folk tradition and had extravagant costumes and sets. Films like Patal Bhairavi starring Akkineni Nageswara Rao were made during the 1950s. The Telugu films of this era were mainly mythological in nature. Maya Bazaar, Gumastha, Vinayaka Chavithi, Chandirani and others were made in the 1950s. NT Rama Rao was also the popular star at this point of time.
Rangula Kala was Narasinga Rao's first directed film in1983, where he also plays the lead. The film portrays the tormented sensibility of a highly gifted modern painter, Ravi, and his growing social awareness and political consciousness.
This film Khaidi, released in 1983, which starred Chiranjeevi, Madhavi, Raogopal Rao and others was a superhit in South Indian and it changed the course of Chiranjeevi's career. He was hailed as one of the most successful stars. The film was a social drama and a story of love, injustice and revenge. A purely commercial cinema the audience loved it.
Another Narsinga Rao's directed film Dasi, released in 1988 won five national awards and gained him national recognition as a distinguished film-maker in India. Dasi deals with the way in which rich families bought young girls as bonded labourers from poor peasant families.
Another film which that released in 1990 which was a run away success and had Chiranjeevi as the lead star was Kondaveeti Donga. Till date it is considered one of the finest films in Telugu film industry. A major hit this Telugu film dealt with social subject that appealed to both the masses and the classes. The female lead was played by Vijayashanti and Radha. The music of this film was composed by Illayaraja.
The film Nari Nari Naduma Murari, released in 1990 had Nandamuri Balakrishna, Shobana, Nirosha as its lead stars. This Telugu film is considered one of the biggest hits of all times. In fact it is considered a classic film.
Arjun released in 2004 was a superhit film. This Telugu film was directed by Gunasekhar. The film starred Mahesh Babu, Shriya Saran, Keerthi Reddy, Raja and Prakash Raj.
Anand released in 2004 and was a huge success in the box office. Contrary to the other Telugu films it was a low profile release. But the film went onto become a major hit and bagged all the critical appreciation. In fact it received 7 Nandi Awards. The film was directed, produced and written by Sekhar Kammula. The roles of the lead Telugu actors are played by Raja and Kamalinee Mukherjee. The film's storyline revolved around two youngsters and how they fall in love. This simple story was loved by the audience and so much so that it became a top grosser.
The 2006 release Bommarillu became a runaway hit. The film had Genelia and Siddharth Narayan. A simple love story it also dealt with the relationship between a father and a son.
Of the Telugu cinema that released in 2008 and gathered success is Paragu. The film stars Allu Arjun, Sheela, Poonam Bajwa, Prakash Raj and Bhaskar.
The Telugu films have great opportunities in the future as this film industry is blessed with talented Telugu actors and Telugu directors.
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