Birth: 28-05-1923, Andhra Pradesh, India
Nandamuri Taraka Rama Rao also known as NTR and fondly referred to as Anna garu, was an actor, director, producer, and a politician of Andhra Pradesh. He is the founder of Telugu Desam Party in 1982 and served as Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh for three terms between 1983 and 1994. He was awarded the Padma Shri by the Government of India in 1968, recognizing his contribution to Telugu cinema. After his career in movies, Rao became a political activist and a political party leader. He is known as an advocate of Andhra Pradesh's distinct cultural identity, distinguishing it from Madras State with which it was often associated.
Rama Rao was born into a wealthy farming family in Nimmakuru, in Krishna district. But their fortunes overturned soon. From a young age he showed an interest in singing and developed a baritone singing voice as a young man. He studied at theAndhra University and initially acquired a job in the civil service. He entered films while in his twenties.
N. T. Rama Rao appeared in over 320 films, although only around 255 films are often accounted for, and he became a legend in Telugu cinema. He often portrayed a Hindu mythological god or hero but also made an ideal villain., He portrayed Lord Krishna in Maya Bazaar, Sri Krishnarjuna Yudham, Daana Veera Soora Karna, Lord Rama (Lava Kusa), Bheeshma (Bheeshma), Ravana (Bhookailasa), and Arjuna (Nartanasala). Later he became a screenwriter. Rao received no formal academic training in movie script writing yet he authored several screen plays for his own movies as well as for other producer's movies.
He started his career playing a police inspector in the movie Mana Desam (1949). The role was offered by the director L V Prasad. Next he appeared in the film Palletoori Pilla, directed by B. A. Subba Rao. It marked the first occasion that Rama Rao and Akkineni Nageswara Rao acted together for the first time. The title role was played by Anjali Devi and the story was loosely based on the English play, Pizaroby Richard Sherton. The film was a commercial hit and ran for more than 100 days in 6 centres. He actively campaigned for the construction of a large number of movie theaters in rural locations and was influential in designing and implementing a financial system that funded the production and distribution of movies.
Rao was the founder of Telugu Desam Party in 1982 and served as Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh. His reason for founding the Telugu Desam Party was based on a historic need to rid the state of the corrupt and inept Congress rule. When he started his political career he was already a very popular actor in the Telugu film industry. Rama Rao was unanimously elected leader of Telugu Dasam Legislature Party on January 8, 1983 with 10 cabinet ministers and five ministers of State. He became the 10th Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh and was reelected three times between 1983 and 1994.
The Telugu Desam Party operations were significantly computerized and a systematic local party structure was built and this resulted in the establishment of a stable second political party that survived his death. Rao introduced the concept of strong states with a strong center in his discussions about state power with Gandhi and ushered in a new era of empowered local governments, within the framework of India.
He suffered a mild stroke and was unable to campaign in the 1989 election, which he lost.
N.T. Rama Rao returned to power in 1994 winning 250 seats (Telugu Desam won 226; CPI: 19; CPM: 05) for his party and his allies in a 294 seat Assembly. Congress party won only 26 seats. The BJP which contested 280 seats on its own won just three seats.
NTR married Basavatarakam in 1942. She died of cancer in 1985. There is a cancer Hospital established in her memory in Hyderabad. NTR remarried in 1993 at the age of 70. NTR had seven sons and four daughters from his first marriage. Prominent among his children are Bhuvaneswari, wife ofNara Chandrababu Naidu,the former chief minister of AP for 9 years; and Daggubati Purandeswari, MP and a Minister of State for Human Resources in Manmohan Singh's cabinet; Nandamuri Balakrishna a leading actor in the Telugu film industry; and Nandamuri Harikrishna, an actor turned politician and a member of Rajya Sabha (lower house of India's Parliament).
NTR later took a second wife, Lakshmi Parvathi who after being widowed and the succession of TDP by Nara Chandra Babu Naidu founded her own party called the NTR Telugu Desam Party (Lakshmi Parvathi). Prominent among NTR's grandchildren are N. T. Rama Rao Jr., Kalyan Ram and Taraka Ratna; all three are actors in Telugu cinema.