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Thummala Narsimha Reddy, Telugu Actor and Journalist, Dies of Covid-19

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Credits: Kajal Aggarwal's Twitter handle

Thummala Narsimha Reddy, the Telugu film journalist, host, and actor, died of Covid-19 related complications at a private hospital in Hyderabad on Monday.

He was 45.

Reddy, popularly known as TNR, had tested positive for the virus about a week ago after he showed mild symptoms. He was advised to isolate at home. After his pulse rate dropped, he was admitted to a private hospital in Malkajgiri in Hyderabad. However, he developed breathing difficulties due to his low oxygen level. Subsequently, he succumbed to the virus on Monday.

As an actor, Reddy appeared in various Telugu films, including the recent hit film Jathi Ratnalu, Uma Maheswara Ugra Roopasya, and Falaknuma Das. He was also part of the upcoming Telugu film F3, starring Venkatesh Daggubati under Anil Ravipudi’s directorial. However, Reddy made his mark in Telugu cinema as a celebrity interviewer in his show titled Frankly Speaking with TNR for the YouTube channel iDream. He interviewed celebrities like Gautami, Vijay Deverakonda, Ram Gopal Verma, Nag Ashwin.


Recalling his experience working with Reddy at iDreams channel, Telugu film critic and journalist, Hemanth Kumar CR, told Silverscreen India, “I have known him more than just as an anchor. He joined the channel in 2015 where I was also working and that is how I got to know him. He has been in the industry for quite some time and his show Frankly with TNR sort of set the benchmark for everyone to interview celebrities. I have seen him prepare for each interview as if he is going to take an exam. He does only one interview per week and he would do it wholeheartedly. The kind of dedication and commitment he brought to work is phenomenal.”

“I remember each interview of his. What we watch online would be only couple of hours long but in reality, he would make celebrities sit with him for half a day. There was one interview with LB Sriram that went on for seven-and-a-half hours. I still remember when the interview went online, the team was searching on the Guinness Book of World Records to see if they had a chance for the longest interview record. But they were disappointed when there was something even longer,” he said.

Hemanth said that Reddy wanted to meet his deadline “at any cost”.

“I was also doing interviews, shorter ones, for the same company. While it took editors faster to complete our work, the work that went on his interviews would take about two days. Lots of work would go and he [Reddy] would tell what he wanted precisely in his interviews while they were being edited. That is why he became famous,” Hemanth said.

Filmmaker Pavan Sadineni, who directed the Telugu romantic comedy web series Commit Mental (2020) starring Reddy, told Silverscreen India, “I remember talking to him some 10 days back, about the possibilities for collaborating for my future project. His demise comes like a shock to me.”

Sadineni said that Reddy wanted to be a filmmaker and would observe the nuances of filming on sets.

“He was also a great interviewer. He was a healthy person and was conscious of what he was eating. He was very fit. I have seen his interviews and didn’t know him as an actor until I saw him in Uma Maheswara Ugra Roopasya (2020). I loved his part and immediately congratulated him. I told him that it is time for him to be an actor and stretch his wings,” Sadineni said.

Remembering their times from shooting Commit Mental, Sadineni said, “He is a very well-prepared person and had asked for his lines the day before the shoot so that he can rehearse. By the time he had memorised his parts, I had an idea to portray his character by not speaking a single line and rely on expressions. So, in the whole series, he did not have any dialogues. However, he was fully prepared to say his dialogues, but he was surprised when I said to him to just emote. But he got into the character and performed extremely well. People loved him for the role.”

Venkatesh Maha, director of C/o Kancharapalem and Uma Maheswara Ugra Roopasya, said he shared a “very good relationship” with Reddy.

“His demise is very painful. When I made my first film, C/o Kancharapalem, TNR gaaru went to Kancharapalem village to interview everyone involved in the film. All the actors from the film were from that village and he had spent 3-4 days and met everyone who took part in the film and interviewed them. The story of the making the film came through him only. He liked the film when he saw it and had a doubt about how I made a good film with local people. Later, he interviewed me and my producer Praveena Paruchuri which ran for 4-5 hours long. Until then people were talking about the film, but no one knew how we looked like. Through the interview, people got to know us,” said Venkatesh.

He said that for his second directorial, Uma Maheswara Ugra Roopasya, he had cast Reddy.

“In real, Reddy had Telangana accent but his character required a northern Andhra accent. It is very tough but I had asked him to learn. TNR gaaru then spoke with people from the local village to catch that accent. He was having fun learning it too. I can’t digest he is not anymore with us,” he said.

He said that Reddy was a “reactive and emotional person” and “loved challenges”. “He is known for his posts on Facebook. If he gets to know anything new in filmmaking, he writes at least 20-line posts about it. When he got to know about the sync sound technique that I used in my film, he wrote about it,” said Reddy.

“I had remembered, he had to grow a beard for the film and he grew it randomly. I had groomed, trimmed his beard, and did the make-up for his character, and he even wrote an article about it on social media. Great memories with him,” he said.

Venkatesh said that even as a journalist, Reddy’s questions on filmmaking were “sensible and thought-provoking”.

Members of the Telugu film fraternity condoled his death on social media.

Reddy is survived by his wife and two children.

His last rites were held on Monday evening in Hyderabad as per Covid-19 protocols.

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