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Comedy is his forte

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Brand name for neat comedy Relangi Narasimha Rao
Brand name for neat comedy Relangi Narasimha Rao

Relangi Narasimha Rao feels that humour in present day films has degenerated into buffoonery

‘Relangi’, a name inseparably connected with comedy in Telugu industry. His very appearance was enough to tickle and send the audience into peals of laughter. He had a unique body language and a way of dialogue delivery, all his own. He was a comedian par-excellence in celluloid industry and carved a permanent niche for himself in the hearts of Telugu audience. This was ‘Relangi Ventaramaiah’, just ‘Relangi’ for millions of film goers of yesteryears.

Keeping this tradition another ‘Relangi’ appeared in Telugu film industry in 1971. His forte is also comedy. But his field is different. He had also made a mark for himself, but that is in the field of direction. This is Relangi Narasimha Rao, a cousin of senior ‘Relangi’. Relangi Narasimha Rao, had created a history of sorts in Telugu film industry by directing over 65 Telugu films, more than ninety percent of which had comedy tracks. He had also directed seven Kannada films and one Tamil film. Mr.Narasihma Rao was here to participate in the ‘24 Frame Workshop on TV and Film’ production and shared his views on various aspects of film production with The Hindu.

A firm believer in adages that ‘comedy is a panacea for all ills’ and ‘Navvu nalabhai vidhaala manchidi’ he said that he had been directing comedy films because there was demand for such films. In fact his first film Chandamama with Mohna Babu in the lead was a serious film, but for various reasons, it was released as a fourth film. His second, third and fourth films Nenu-Maa Aavida, Emandoy Sreevaaru and Illanthaa Sandadi with Chandra Mohan in the lead roles were all comedy films and had done well at the box office and he was ‘branded’ as a maker of good comedy films.

Then a series of comedy films with Rajendra Prasad as a hero followed. ‘I have made 32 comedy films with Rajendra Prasad as the hero. Probably it was a record of sorts, Mr.Relangi Narasimha Rao said. It may be recalled that when ever the then Prime Minister, P.V.Narasimha Rao, wanted to see a picture, he was reported to have insisted on a comedy picture with Rajendras Prasad as hero and Relangi Narasimha Rao as director. That was the popularity of ‘Rajendra Prasad-Relangi Narasimha Rao’ combination.

He admits of his ‘guilt’ of directing just one picture with what is called double-meaning dialogues. This was Emti baavaa mareenu. After seeing this film one lady lecturer accosted him and said ‘we expect certain things in a picture directed by you. But we came out of the hall after watching some three reels of Emti baava mareenu It was then he decided to ensure that there is ‘no vulgarity or obscenity or double-meaning dialogues’ in picture directed by him. He says that ‘Jandhyala’ another brand name for neat comedy was his ‘inspiration’ and he had learnt a lot from director, Dasari Narayana Rao, actor Chandra Mohan and writer, Diwakarbabu.

He feels that comedy or humour in present day films has degenerated into buffoonery. Understandbly, he was reluctant to name anybody for this. ‘More freedom to director and less domination by hero’ would result in production of good films, Mr.Relangi Narasimha Rao concluded, adding that he would be directing one more picture to be produced by Dasari Narayna Rao.

R.JAGADEESWARA RAO

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