Director Relangi Narasimha Rao has a deep understanding of relationships and loves to portray the same on screen and believes that a message can be delivered if an auteur intersperses a script with dollops of entertainment. He has deep sense of gratitude to his guru Dasari Narayana Rao and mentions him in every conversation. Narasimha Rao has directed 73 films, out which he faced problems with ten movies dealing with all kinds of personalities. “Films and filmmaking teach us to be a better person and there cannot be a greater school than a film studio”, he avers.

Police Bharya (1989) Anupama Productions

Produced by Katragadda Prasad, Balaram

Cast: Seeta, Naresh

Earlier I made comedies based on entertainment, but Police Bharya was a comedy with a message. It is the story of a woman who fights for husband’s self respect and pride. It was originally titled ‘ Polisodi Pellam ’ and got into a controversy when we didn’t heed to a request to change the title. The matter went to the courtthree days before the release. The posters were out and we were adamant. Dasari intervened and arranged a meeting between the police association and the producers and convinced us to change the title and they withdrew the case. Seeta married Partiban and Naresh married Devulapalli Krishna Shastry’s daughter during the making of the film. The film became a hit and I did three films for the same banner.

Konte Kapuram (1987) SVS Films

Produced by Chinni and Jeevan

Cast: Chandra Mohan, Aswani

Producer Pallavi Venkatratnam and the senior writer, B. Radhakrishna called me for a discussion for a story by writer Diwakar Babu that was to be made into a movie. Diwakar Babu was making his debut as a story writer with this film — a family drama with entertainment. Both Venkatratnam and Radhakrishna were happy with the story and asked us to proceed. After the recording of three songs, Venkatratnam quit the project as he felt that the Vastu of his office was not good and also because someone told him that the market for Chandra Mohan’s films was not good. The writer was upset and so was I. Then two producers from SVS Films came into the scene. Producers Chinni and Jeevan liked the story and took the rights of the script and soon after that one of the producers had a heart ailment and was admitted in the hospital. It was a second setback to me and the writer again. But the producer called us to the hospital and asked us to go ahead, as his brother would handle the project.

Then to our dismay we found that Chandra Mohan’s secretary had goofed up his dates and gave the dates meant for our film to another producer; so we had to sort out that problem. That was followed by heavy rains in Chennai in November which threatened to stall the shoot. Y Vijaya refused to come for work in that rain, we arranged for her to reach the shoot in a palanquin like arrangement and went on with the work. Finally we had problems with the producer at the editing room. The industry bigwigs got together and resolved the issue and the film came out. The film had a box office run of 100 days and Diwakar Babu’s career also looked up after that.

Samsaram (1988)

Produced by Shekamuri Ramachandra Rao

Cast: Shoban Babu, Sarada

Shoban Babu was the reason for me being the director of this film. I was the director for one of his films that went to sets before Samsaram but ten days after the shoot, I was replaced with Raviraja Pinisetty. I was angry but I was not big or popular enough to vent it out. The writer asked me why I wasn’t coming to work and I was clueless; I thought Shoban Babu might have wanted me out, but again I had my doubts because he is not the kind to play politics. I had keenly observed him, as an assistant director, for many of his films.

After a while producer Shekamuri Ramachandra Rao (related to Krishna) came to me with a story titled ‘Samsaram’ and asked me to direct. He said Shoban Babu was the actor; I told him to check up with him first and I would not like to get in and get out of the film again. He said it was Shoban Babu who proposed my name! I went to Shoban Babu’s house and he told me that he recommended me for this project. This film too completed 100 days.

Rambha Rambabu (1993)

Produced by MS Prasad, MSR Prasad, Murthy, G Mattaiah

Cast: Rajendra Prasad, Parijatha

Based on a Tamil film Rambha In Kadhal , it was produced by four people. The story was ready, songs were recorded and we put up an Indralokam set at Prasad Studio. I then saw a newspaper report that K. Raghavendra Rao is directing a film for Aswani Dutt titled Jagadeka Veerudu Athiloka Sundari . It was the same fantasy story and obviously going to be made on a mammoth scale. I went to Chiranjeevi’s house, he wasn’t there, Allu Aravind was not at home too, so I approached the producer and told him my problem. He said he would give a gap and release the film as his movie would take a year to be ready. Raghavendra Rao said he would send his writer Jandhyala to narrate the story to me and assured that he would delete any scene that matched with mine. I refused to listen as it was not ethically right but I was sure they would keep their word and release the film late.

The actor who played the character of Yamakinkurudu in our film died and my spirits sagged. And next, the heroine without informing us, left even before we could shoot the climax scenes. We somehow managed to complete it and release the film. It ran for 50 days.

Iddaru Khiladeelu (1983)

Produced by Tammareddy Baradwaj

Cast: Suman, Bhanuchander

Based onkarate, the film introduced Suman to Telugu cinema. It was also my first action film. Only when I started working with Rajendra Prasad did I get branded as a ‘comedy director’. For Iddaru Khiladeelu we wanted a village without an electric pole, dusty and kucha roads, a lake and probably a temple. Every village had power supply and the job of location hunting became difficult and we had to compromise and zeroed in on Naganapuram in Chittoor.

There were no motels and no one gave us a place to stay. There was a Kalyana Mantapam but no rooms as such, we told everyone to bring their own pillows and sheets. Baradwaj had a cash crunch and through his friends got some funds on a day-to-day basis. We would use that and completed the film. Nirmalamma, Vijayalaitha, Nutan Prasad all slept on the terrace and helped us finish the film. We had a cash problem during the re recording as well, on the fourth day of re recording I got a message that my father had a heart attack. I left the shoot and rushed to Chennai, took him to Vijaya hospital. My father passed away and I had no money to take him out from there. At this point of time, Baradwaj had no choice but to take back the money he gave to the music director and arrange for my father’s cremation. But when the film releases, it had 50-day box office run.

as told to y. sunita chowdhary

(This fortnightly column features the five best works as shared by the maestros from the industry)