indian cinema heritage foundation

T Prakash Rao

  • Real Name: Tatineni Prakash Rao
  • Born: 24/06/1924 (Krishna district, Andhra Pradesh)
  • Died: 01/07/1992 (Chennai)
  • Spouse: Tatineni Annapurna
  • Children: T L V Prasad , Leela

Popular director and screenwriter T Prakash Rao is known for films such as Suraj (1966), Uttama Puthiran (1958) and Pitchi Pullaiah (1953). He has more than 40 films to his credit as director, working across Telugu, Hindi, and Tamil cinema. Starting his career as an assistant director for films like Palnati Yuddham (1947),Shavukaru (1950), and Pathala Bhairavi (1951), he debuted as director with the Telugu film Palletooru (1952). He went on to directPichi Pullayya (1953), Parivartana (1954), Jayam Manade (1956), Charana Daasi (1956), and Illarikam (1959) in Telugu. In Hindi, he directed films such as Sasural (1961), Suraj (1966), Izzat (1968) and Duniya (1968). Notable Tamil films that he directed include Amara Deepam (1956), Uthama Puthiran (1958), Nalla Theerpu (1959), and Padagotti (1964). As a writer, he is credited with penning Bahu Beti (1965), Uttama Puthiran (1958), Amara Deepam (1956), and Pitchi Pullaiah (1953). Influenced by communist ideology, he had joined the theatre group, Praja Natya Mandali. Due to the crackdown on the communist party in the 1940s, he went underground and, like most of his colleagues from the theatre company, made his way to Madras into the film world.

Born Tatineni Prakash Rao on 24 June 1924 in Kapileswarapuram of Krishna district in present-day Andhra Pradesh, he was a member of the CPI before Indian Independence. He was associated with Praja Natya Mandali, a radical theatre movement. Later, reportedly disturbed by the turns of events in the Communist movement, he moved to Madras to join the film industry. 

He began his career as assistant director to L V Prasad, working under the latter on films such as Palnati Yuddham (1947), Mana Desam (1949), Shavukaru (1950), and Samsaram (1950). He also worked with K V Reddy for some time on Pathala Bhairavi (1951). 

In 1952, he debuted as director with the Telugu film Palletooru. Produced by P Sivaramaiah, the film starred N T Rama Rao and Savitri in the lead roles, while the music of the film was composed by Ghantasala.

There was no looking back and he went on to helm a range of silver jubilee hits in what is considered the golden age of Telugu cinema. His 1953 Telugu-language drama film Pichi Pullayya starred N T Rama Rao, Sowcar Janaki and Krishna Kumari, with music composed by T V Raju. The film was produced by N Trivikrama Rao under the National Art Theatres banner. 

His 1956 hit Amara Deepam, starring Saroja EV and Sivaji Ganesan, ran for over 100 days in cinema halls. Well-received, The Hindu called it an “interesting melodrama, packed with cleverly-contrived situations,” while Screen wrote, “Amara Deepam produced essentially as an entertainer, has achieved its purpose to a great extent”. The Indian Express wrote, “This is a picture of which the Tamil film world could be legitimately proud – such is the vivid portrayal on the screen of gripping theme.”

Uttama Puthiran, his directorial of 1956, revolved around a queen who gives birth to twins. But as fate would have it, one of the twins is forcefully abandoned and grows up elsewhere. When the twins are brought together by a twist of fate, they start fighting. It is only their mother who can bring peace. The film starred Shivaji Ganesan, Kannamba, and M N Nambiar.

His Hindi romance-action film Suraj (1966) revolved around a king, Maharaja Vikram who decides to marry his daughter Anuradha to his commander's son, Pratap. However, years later, Anuradha is abducted by bandit Suraj while on her way to Pratap's coronation. The film was one of the top grossing films of 1966, and was accorded the verdict of a super-hit. The film was also one of the last box office hits of Rajendra Kumar, who was regarded as the Hindi film industry’s silver jubilee actor. 

Married to Tatineni Annapurna, his son T L V Prasad is a film director. His grandson Tatineni Satya is also a film director who debuted with Bheemili Kabaddi Jattu (2010). Noted director Tatineni Rama Rao is a cousin of Prakash Rao, and had also worked as assistant director to the latter at the beginning of his career.

T Prakash Rao passed away on 1 July 1992 in Madras, Tamil Nadu. 


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