About the Book:
This monograph is on the life and works of the noted Telugu actor, film-maker, music composer and singer Chittoor V. Nagaiah who dominated the formative years of south Indian cinema. Nagaiah's film career spanning about four decades saw over 300 films in Telugu, Tamil and Kannada. His name became synonymous with different Saint Poets that he portrayed on the silver screen.
About the Author:
The author K. N. T. Sastry is a film critic, columnist, script writer and documentary film-maker. He has received a number of awards.
This is a study of Chittoor V. Nagaiah. Myriad are the facets of his personality. An actor, film-maker, music composer, singer - he was verily a cultural soldier who assiduously protected tradition, in the formative years of south Indian cinema. This concern for a cultural atavism was strengthened by his humanistic demean our which consistently rejected commercial stances. The following pages will attempt to recreate the times which were instrumental in inculcating the traits of struggle and sacrifice, perseverance and perfection in Nagaiah.
It was only when I got wholly immersed in tracing the history of this great artiste, my inadequacies came to the fore. Here indeed was a great soul, whose commitment to humanistic approach was no less significant than his avowed artistic stances. Every plea for help met an answer. Every detail in his films was carefully crafted. It was this personality that I was looking into. The various aspects that came out during the course of my research would, in fact, make many volumes of reading material. Yet, within the limitations that I set to myself, I have tried to do justice to the life of the artiste.
First hand knowledge of the personality, by the sheer accident of contemporaneity is likely to make a study, at times, subjective in its analysis. Alienated from the culture of those 'good old days', a new generation looking at it, with awe, is likely to be spared of this trauma. I belong to this new generation. We live in the long rainbow of fast fading colours. Memories haunt us. Memories of Nagaiah... I vividly recall my grand-father raving about the song, Pavanaguna Rama. I remember how tears rolled down my cheeks when I saw the travails of Nagaiah as Gumasta, in a touring talkie. I was ten years old then. But by that time, Nagaiah had not only entrenched in the annals of Telugu cinema for over a decade and a half, he was already preparing to slowly fade into history. It was then to that age, an age which saw the star Nagaiah reign supreme, that I had to delve.
It is an acknowledged fact that Nagaiah's songs took music to the threshold of common man. This aspects of his personality warranted a special study. It was my good fortune that due to the opportunity provided by this work, I peeped into the world of yesteryears' music, and have brought out a separate chapter on Nagaiah's music.
Over 300 films in Telugu, Tamil, and a few in Kannada and Hindi was a breathtaking spectrum. Nagaiah's greatest achievement, however, was Thyagayya an analysis of which throws light on the film producer, actor, music composer and director : Nagaiah.
Endaro Mahanbhavulu (many are the great souls) - rhymes a Thyagaraya Kirtana - an all time favourite of Nagaiah. Many indeed were the great souls who helped me in bringing this work to a shape. I have heavily drawn from Nagaiah's Sviya Charitra (autobiography) edited by Inturi Venkateswara Rao, for the biographical sketch. Dhanunjaya, V. A. K. Ranga Rao and Balanthrapu Rajanikantha Rao, during prolonged discussions helped me understand the music of Nagaiah. Mrs. Kamala Chandrababu talked to me about Nagaiah's personal life. And so did Satyam, noted film music composer, Kamalakara Kameshwara Rao and a host of others. Instead of reproducing the interviews with these personalities verbatim, I have sprinkled the variety of impressions, throughout the pages of this work.
I am thankful to the cooperation extended to me by Mr. Prasanna (of Vijayachitra -Dolton Publications, Chennai) and his staff; management of Ananda Vikatan who allowed me to spend hours in their library; P. J. Anandan besides providing me details of some of the films, gave me some stills. Hari Purushotham spent a lot of time discussing the draft of this book.
I am grateful to P. K. Nair of National Film Archive for giving me this opportunity to enter the fascinating world of yesteryear's movie - making. Finally, I express my gratitude to B. Narasinga Rao, film-maker, who has been a source of inspiration and guiding force towards perfection.
To all of them, I express my profound thank... andariki naa vandanamulu
Over to Nagaiah's life and times.
K. N. T. Sastry
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