Tatineni Rama Rao, the veteran director and producer who worked in the Telugu, Hindi, and Tamil film industries, died during the early hours of Wednesday in Chennai. He was 83.
The filmmaker, who resided in T Nagar, Chennai, died at around 12.30 am on Wednesday due to age-related issues.
Rao began his journey in cinema as an assistant director under filmmakers T Prakash Rao and Kotayya Pratyagatma. He made his directorial debut in 1966 with the Telugu remake of the Tamil film, Navarathri, under the same title. It starred Akkineni Nageswara Rao and Savitri.
He went on to direct many more Telugu films, starring actors such as Jayalalitha, Sobhan Babu, Anjali Devi, NT Rama Rao, and Jaya Prada, before making his Hindi directorial debut with the 1979 film Lok Parlok. It was a remake of his own Telugu movie Yamagola.
It is to be noted that Rao’s Hindi filmography primarily comprises of remakes of Telugu and Tamil films, such as Jeevan Dhaara (Aval Oru Thodar Kathai), Andhaa Kaanoon (Sattam Oru Iruttarai), John Jani Janardhan (Moondru Mugam), and Maang Bharo Sajana (Karthika Deepam), among others.
Over the course of about 50 films as a director, Rao worked with celebrated actors like Rajinikanth, Hema Malini, Amitabh Bachchan, NT Rama Rao, Sridevi, Jayasudha, Jeetendra, Dharmendra, Sanjay Dutt, Anil Kapoor, Govinda, and Mithun Chakraborty.
Rao notably introduced Rajinikanth to the Hindi film industry with Andhaa Kaanoon in 1983.
His last film as a director was the Hindi film Beti No. 1 (2000).
Rao also backed Tamil films under the banner of Sri Lakshmi Productions. He produced movies starring actors such as Vikram, Vijay, Jayam Ravi, and Vishal. His productions included films like Dhil, Youth, Arul, Something Something Unakum Enakum, and Malaikotai.
Aside from his film career, Rao also served as the chairman of Madras Hydraulic Hose Pvt Ltd, a manufacturer of stainless steel flexible corrugated hoses.
Actor Anupam Kher condoled Rao’s demise in social media and wrote, “Deeply saddened to know about the demise of veteran filmmaker and a dear friend Shri T Rama Rao ji. I had the privilege of working with him in Aakhri Raasta and Sansaar. He was compassionate, commanding and had a great sense of humour. My condolences to his family! Om Shanti!”
Rao’s last rites are scheduled to take place at Kannammapet crematorium in Chennai at 4 pm on Wednesday. He is survived by his wife Tatineni Jayashree and children Chamundeswari, Naga Suuseela and Ajay.