Ramoji Rao: A media baron who changed the way newspapers were read in Telugu States

With the motto of delivering the newspaper before sunrise, Ramoji Rao heralded unthinkable changes in the media world over the last five decades.

Updated - June 08, 2024 11:57 pm IST

Published - June 08, 2024 03:44 pm IST

Ramoji Rao. File

Ramoji Rao. File | Photo Credit: The Hindu

Ramoji Rao’s motto of delivering the newspaper before sunrise changed the way people read news in the combined Andhra Pradesh for decades, and on June 8 he silently slipped into a new world before sunrise leaving behind millions of his loyal readers and hundreds of journalists who owe their careers to him.

Media tycoon, Cherukuri Ramoji Rao, who heralded unthinkable changes in the media world over the last five decades, left an indelible mark not only on the media but also on films, hospitality, the financial sector, the food industry, and also the politics of two Telugu States.

Born in a middle-class family in the Krishna district of Andhra Pradesh, he rose to the position of owning the largest media houses with the widest reach in the country at one point in time. His success lay in his approach of daring to dream, and it yielded results.

When he launched Eenadu newspaper from Vishakapatnam in 1974 when the entire Telugu media houses were in Vijayawada and some of them in Hyderabad and the political class sitting in Hyderabad, was seen as a revolution and calculated bravery. The move paid off and the publication quickly moved across the State touching every village. It continues to be the largest circulated Telugu daily with numerous editions not just in Telugu States but also in the neighbouring States.

Ramoji Rao impacted the lives of millions riding on the positivity of social consciousness of the newspaper. Venturing into electronic media with a bang when it was still in a nascent stage in the country showcased his vision. He was the first to offer a 24-hour news channel in Telugu apart from several Southern languages.

But his versatility was not limited to the media. He founded the world’s largest film city - Ramoji Film City on the outskirts of Hyderabad spread over 2,000 acres; Ushakiron Movies produced award-winning films, and also Priya Foods that is part and parcel of Telugu homes not just in India but also abroad. The Margadarsi Chit Fund though was in the eye of a storm due to political reasons strengthened the small savings industry.

He was honoured with Padma Vibhushan in 2016 for his contribution to the field of journalism. He produced more than 60 films in Telugu, Hindi and other Indian languages and some of the sensational films of that era including Prathighatana, Mayuri, Mouna Poratam and Nuvve Kaavali.

Penchant for Telugu

Ramoji Rao’s penchant for the Telugu language and its preservation and promotion was well-known and he used the wide reach of his newspaper and Television channels to spread the beauty of the language. The Telugu words coined by Eenadu have become part of the language’s lexicon.

Funeral with State honours

Telangana Government has decided to perform the last rites to the mortal remains of Ramoji Rao with State honours. Chief Minister Revanth Reddy, who is in New Delhi to attend the Congress Working Committee meeting, directed the Chief Secretary Shanti Kumari to make arrangements.

The Chief Minister issued orders through the Chief Secretary to the Rangareddy Collector and Rachakonda Commissioner to supervise the arrangements. Mr. Reddy also spoke to the family members of Ramoji Rao. His funeral will be held on June 9 (Sunday).

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