After talking to him, you can’t help but feel that exposure to the arts should be a necessity, not a luxury. Among several other benefits, any art form can help develop better understanding of oneself and the community besides strengthening the inner self. Naa Antarangam, a book authored by P. Panduranga Rao, a stage and radio artiste rolled into an amazingly modest personality, is a fine example of this strength.
Reviewed by Indraganti Srikanth Sarma and released recently by drama critic Chatla Sriramulu, the book provides a peek into how Mr. Rao evolved from a novice to a point where he won public accolades for his performances.
Speaking about his 36-year-long association with the All India Radio, he says it was the period when he actively dabbled in stage plays. He began his stage career in 1955 in his 15 year with a Hindi play Lakshmi Ka Swagat.
In 1963, he enrolled his name for a three-year diploma course in School of Theatre Arts run by Andhra Pradesh Natya Sangham, Hyderabad, to learn all about the history of Indian and western theatre, natya sastra, play production, acting and speech, scenic design and stage craft, make-up and costume, stage lighting and theatre general knowledge.
In 1964, he joined the All-India Radio, Hyderabad and retired in 2000 as Station Director, AIR, Markapur. “I was a radio artiste by the day and a stage artiste by night and enjoyed both roles. In the course, I met renowned theatre personalities like Sthanam Narasimha Rao, Nanduri Vithal, Sarada Srinivas, K. Chiranjeevi and Gollapudi Maruthi Rao,” he says.
Among the several plays staged at different venues, Mr. Rao vividly remembers Kanyasulkam and Mricha Katikam, staged at Rasthrapati Bhavan in the presence of the then President Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, in 1966.
He bagged five national awards for his documentaries aired by the AIR and attributes his success to his mentor Balantrapu Rajanikanth Rao. Post-retirement, Mr. Rao started Abhiruchi, a cultural organisation that aims at spotting and encouraging cultural and literary talent among youth. “We cannot let the wealth of arts fade away. It is worth preserving for posterity,” he says emphatically.