Art imitates life

While our Telugu films are facing a dearth of good tracks for a comedian, actor Chitti Babu, erstwhile comedian late Raja Babu’s brother, recollects the time when the star comedian was indispensable. He says the family might be incapacitated to do something to heighten the glory of their brother further but they will not do anything to sully or hurt his image in the industry in any form.

Chitti Babu says that there was never a separate track for a comedian in the earlier films. If the link between the comedian and the story breaks, the film would never be successful. Now even if one were to remove the comedy track , the subject remains as it is. He recalls, “In Amalapuram Jeevana Jyothi shooting was on and an onlooker who was very short kept watching the takes and retakes, got irritated and walked upto K.Vishwanath and remarked in a peculiar voice and dialect common to that region that they are wasting the sunlight. The producer pulled this man aside and told him that he shouldn’t be speaking that way. My brother summoned him to his room and interacted with him to observe him better. Later he imitated that man in the film President Peramma . He had the passion to re-invent and do something different.”

When people would come to see him at the shooting spot and shake hands, say something, he would keenly observe and also interact with them. He would then tell his writers to introduce such characters in the script.

Chitti Babu adds, “ Ibbandikaramaina hasyam ibbandigane chestam for money. How can you demand good rice in America? You eat what is available there, sint it? Raja Babu was so popular that at one time he would shuttle between sets. He would work for an hour for a NTR film, an hour for Shoban Babu and the rest. In one movie, he wore as many costumes as NTR. If Rama Rao was drawing R. 35,000, my brother was getting Rs. 20,000. He once demanded 35 and the producer said, ‘but he is the hero’. Raja Babu told him to use the hero as a comedian and release the film.”

“If Raja Babu wasn’t there in a particular film, the film wouldn’t run for two days. The producer would immediately add his scenes then there would be crowds trickling in. He drew a remuneration of a lakh in those days.”

Chitti Babu recalls, “He conducted marriages, did charity, established a college, a scavenger’s colony in Rajamundry and believed that a man should just not die, he should be immortal in death.”

Raja Babu's 73rd birth anniversary falls on October 20.

y. sunita chowdhary

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