Famous Drama Artists
Short notes on some of the most famous artists, whom i saw on stage
-Kaja Venkata Madhusudana Rao(Drama Artist, Performer & Organizer)
Sri Suribabu: Famous for roles for Dharmaraja, Brihaspathi(in tara sashankam-telugu),narada etc.He successfully ran his own drama troupe and gave hundred of performances throughout the state with own settings and trick scenes. he had a peculiar, bold voice and was called as Kanchu Kantham Suri babu. He also acted in mythological and social films (as narada in Sri venkateswara mahathyam) featuring NTR and Savithri, and as Akrura in the film Sri Krishna Leelau with SV Ranga Rao as kamsa.
K.Raghuramaiah: He was popularly known as “Eelapata Raghuramaiah”.Since he had the ability to sing padyams and songs through whistle, by putting his finger in mouth and producing the whistle or flute sound. He was famous for the roles of Sri Krishna or Dushyantha or Bhavani sankara, Narada etc. He performed I those roles for about 60 years. He indulged in elaborate raga alapana, based on Hindustani ragas while rendering padyams.He acted as Sri Krishna in the film “Sri Krishna Rayabaram” made in early 60’s and in the film “Chintamani” featuring Bhanumathi. He acted in other films also, in which he sang the usual verses in his usual drama style. He was awarded ‘Padmashri’ by Govt of India
Abburi Varaprasada Rao: he was famous for the roles of Sri Krishna and in addition to play this role in the dramas of contractors, formed his own troupe and gave performances throughout the state, playing as Sri Krishna throughout the drama singing about 60 to 70 padyams alone with continuous raga alapana. He is known for his popular style of raga alapana called ‘Abburi kalalu’, which mesmerized the audience. I saw him only in the end of his career.he gave gramophone records of his padyams for HMV company, which may be available in music shops selling drama cassettes.
Shanmukhi Anjaneya Raju: He was famous for the roles of Sri Krishna,Sri rama,narada,nakshtraka etc. He learnt classical music, which he utilized well in rendering padyams. He also sang padyams in long winding ragas, but stood apart due his knowledge of classical music. He swayed the audience for many years and contractors cashed on his popularity. He gave gramophone records also.Infomration on his audio CD is given in the CD section. Addanki SriramaMurthy: He was famous for the roles of Dasaratha and Dharmaraja etc.He sang the padyams in classical music style with clarity and bhava. I saw him on stage in his old age.
Pisapati Narasimha Murthy: He was born in the year 1920, and died recently in 2007.He learned the epics well which helped him to render the padyams and dialogues appropriate to the scene with clarity and bhava. He won the prize as best Sri Krishna in the “Akhilandhra Pandava Udyoga Vijayalu” competitions held in 1949 at Guntur and since then acted the role continuously for 40 years. Unlike the other artists who acted as Krishna, he never indulged in long raga aalapana and rendered the padyams with clarity in majestic voice. In between padyams, he created dialogues suitable to that scene that earned appreciation of the audience. Even though he made only short raga, he earned the accolades of the illiterate audience also, which is surprising since they are accustomed to the long winding ragas of other artists as Sri Krishna. He acted throughout the state and all major cities in India. He received many awards including the ‘Kendra Sangitha nataka academy’ award, the only drama artist to get the same. He received puraskaram from Govt of Andhra Pradesh as drama artist. His audio CD is shown in CD section. In his own troupe; he acted as Sri Krishna alone throughout the five scenes of the drama, particularly for the elite audience.
DV Subba Rao(Vetapalem):He was famous for the role of Harishchandra. He had a melodious voice and created his individual style of rendering verses, which became a trend for the later artists for the role of Harishchandra. He although indulged in long winding ragas, his diction was clear with action and bhava. He died at the age of 49 years.
Bandaru Rama Rao: Famous for the role of Harishchandra and he also created his own style of rendering padyams with good diction and clarity. He was a telugu pundit. He lacked the physical features for the character. He acted throughout the state. He also died early at the age of 45.
Dhulipala Sitharama Sastry: Although he is famous cini actor, he was first and foremost as stage actor. He was popular for the role of Duryodhana and in the drama and for mayasabha mono action. He won the award as best duryodhana in the All Andhra competitions in 1949. His other popular roles were myravana, yugandhara minister, gaya etc. He worked as a pleader clerk .He died recently. His audio CD is shown in CD section.
Rebala Ramana: Resident of Nellore, famous for the roles of Chandramathi, Chinthamani, nayakuralu and other female roles. He was the brother-in-law of Bandaru Rama Rao and acted as Chandramathi along with him. He acted in dramas throughout the state with his own troupe. He died in road accident in 1996 when he was at his peak of his career.
Vemuri Ramaiah: He is the son of Vemuri Gaggaiah( famous for the roles of Yama, Kamsa and hiranya kasipu).He was a law graduate and started with the role of Sri Krishna in 1950 and later shifted to the role of Karna as professional actor. He acted as Karna for about 40 years on the stage. He formed his own troupe and staged the drama ‘Maharathi Karna’ throughout the state. He rendered the verses and dialogues with clear diction and very good action. He was awarded puraskaram by the AP govt. He published his auto biography recently with details of his acting career along with his contemporaries like Pisapati, dhulipala etc. His audio is shown in the audio section.
Prithvi Venkateswarlu: He is disciple of Raghuramaiah, whom he considers as his god father. Like his guru, he is famous for singing padyams in long winding ragas based on Hindustani raga. He acted as Sri Krishna and Sri Rama more than ten thousand times throughout the state and India. He acted as Srinivasa, Bhavani sankara, narada and other roles. He received the puraskaram from the AP govt. He gave some gramophone records also.
T.Kanakam: She acted in the roles of SriKrishna, Sri Rama and Chintamani etc in professional dramas through out the state. She acted both male and female roles. She received puraskaram from AP govt. She acted in many films also.
Abburi Kamala Devi: She acted mainly in the male roles ,such as Sri Krishna, SriRama, Karna, bhavani Sankara etc. She received puraskaram from AP govt.
Achanta Venkataratnam naidu: he is famous for the roles of Duryodhana, Jalandhara and other villain characters and also mayasabha mono action. Endowed with the correct physical features for the villain characters, he formed his own troupe and staged dramas throughout the state for the many years. He received puraskaram from AP state govt. He is still acting occasionally.
Burra Subrahmanya Sastry: He is famous for the female roles of Satybhama, Chandramathi, Chintamani, Sakkubayi etc. He is considered as next to sthnam narasimha rao in portraying female roles. He is proficient in telugu and Sanskrit languages and authored the padya natakam “Bhooyo Bhooyo namamyaham” ,which was staged in the nandi nataka parishath. He worked as instructor to the students of padya natakams in telugu university. He acted in the role of the mother of Prakasham panthulu in the drama “Praja nayakudu prakasham” and received great appreciation for the same. He rendered Harikathas also. He received the puraskaram from the AP govt in 2007.he acted as Chinthamani(second part) in the drama organized by this writer in 2006 in Hyderabad and received puraskaram from our organization. He settled in Hyderabad.
P.lakshmana Rao: Popularly known as “sampath nagar” lakshmana rao, he is famous for the role of anjaneya in the drama “ramanjaneys yuddham”. He acted only in that role for about 50 years though out the state as professional. His specialty is that he sings the padyams in a very high pitch(shruthi) than other, continuously in long winding ragas. Even though he is not educated, due to this special skill alone he became the darling of the masses for only his singing powers. He is considered to be highest paid drama artist on the stage. He is about 70 years of age and still acting. His audio cassettes are available in all leading music stores.
AV Subba Rao: He is famous for the roles of Srikrishna, Sri Rama, Bilva mangala etc.he has performed for about 40 years on stage. He is popular for his very melodious voice, which is most suitable for harmonium and for singing padyams with long winding ragas. His voice as SriRama can be heard in the gramophone record Ramanjaneya Yuddham, which was very popular. He settled in Tenali and aged about 70 years
Ponnala Ramasubba Reddy: He is resident of Nellore and famous for the roles of nala, harischandra, dasaratha, ramadasu etc.He is the founder of Ramakrishna natya mandali and with this troupe staged dramas throughout the state and other parts of India. He won the best actor award for the role of Harischandra in the “Akhilandhra Harishchandra Drama competitions” held in Guntur in 1971,and won other prizes also for his troupe. He renders the padyams in a voice with good volume and less raga alapana, combined with clarity and diction. After performing for about fifty years, he is now resting in Nellore.He received”Hamsa award” from the AP state govt. He retired as an officer in revenue dept. His natya mandali is still active.
Guduru Savithri: She is famous for the roles of chandramathi, savithri,radha in chintamani, kaikeyi, surpanakha etc. She has been acting on stage since childhood, having come from surabhi family. She has performed throughout the state with many leading artists. She has been honoured by state govt. She won the best actress award in nandi nataka parishat for her role as surpanakha in the drama “Srirama Vanavasam”, and in other parishaths also.
G Jayraj: he is famous for the roles of nakshatraka, bhavani sankara, balachandra,bala vardhi etc.He sings verses in a very high pitch with long winding raagas. He has been recently honoured by the state govt in hyd.He retired as teacher and he is not active now.
Turlapati Radhakrishna Murthy: He is famous for the roles of duryodhana, maya sabha, gaya, narasinga raju etc.He performed with all leading artists throughout the state. He renders the verses and dialogues with good diction. He worked as instructor for students of padya natakams in the telugu university. He retired as telugu lecturer.
Vijaya Raju: He is famous for the role of chandramathi. He is performing throughout the state along with leading artists. He sings verses in a voice similar to that of females with elaborate raagalapana.
Amarapu Sathyanarayana: he is famous for the roles of Srikrishna, Srirama with a charming face and physical features suitable for the role of Srikrishna. He performed throughout the state along with leading artists as a professional and now is resting in his native place after retiring as teacher.
A Venkateswara Rao: He is the son of AV subba Rao, famous actor mentioned earlier. Like his father he is playing the roles of Srkrishna, Sri rama, bhavani sankar etc. His rendering of padyams is also like his father, performing as a professional artist throughout the state, and is now most popular for Srikrishna. He recently won the best actor award for his role of “yogi vemana” in the nandi nataka parishath held at Nizamabad. His CDs are available in leading music stores.
GSN Sastry: he is retired as officer in the AP govt, and hence could not take part in many performances as other actors. He was popular for the roles of bhavani sankar, vemana etc. He has a bold voice with volume and renders the verses and the dialogues with clarity, bhava combined with short raga alapana. He worked as instructor for students of padya natakams in telugu university. He performed along with Gummadi Gopalakrishna in the drama “Sri nadhudu” in USA on the invitation of AVK foundation.
Ayyadevara Purushottama Rao: He is retired as officer in state bank of Hyd, and is popular for the roles of srikrishna, srirama, bilwa mongala etc. He renders the verses with clear diction and short raga alapana somewhat similar to late Pisapati. He performed on stage in role of Sri Krishna deva raya in the rupakam “Bhuvana Vijayam” in the troupe led by Divakarla Venkatavadhani, in various parts of India and in USA also.
CH Nancharayya: He is retired as office from AG’s office in hyd. He is famous for the roles of Srikrishna, Srirama, bilwa mangala etc.He participated in dramas throughput the state and in “nandi nataka parishaths”. He renders verses with long winding ragas, similar to other professionals.
Smt.Jamuna Rayalu: She is from surabhi family and is popular for the roles of sathyabhama, radha, chandramathi and Srikrishna. She is performing as a professional throughout the state and also with amateurs. Along with singing padyams with melodious voice and bhava, she is also a very good actress. She participated in nandi and other nataka parishaths. She was the director of drama, Sashirekha parinayam, which won the best production award in the nandi nataka parishath held at Vijayawada.
Smt.Rajani bai: She is popular for the roles of chinthamani, chandramathi etc. She is a professional and is performing throughout the state, individually also with her troupe. She is having equal talent in rendering verses and dialogue delivery. she won awards in nandi and other nataka parishaths.
Gummadi Gopalakrishna: He is popular for the characters of srikrishna,srirama,biwamangala and now for “Srinadhudu” drama written akella(cinema writer).His acting through out the state and is the founder of drama troupe “SathyaSai kala nikethan”. His drama Srikrishna Tulabharam won the best production award and himself as best actor in nandi in 2000, and again as best actor and second best production for Srinadhudu in nandi in 2002.He staged the drama Srinadhudu in USA under the auspices of AVK foundation and Silicon Andhra and earned appreciation in USA. He is a regular visitor to USA to perform for telugu association’s there. He recorded the full dramas Srikrishna Rayabaramu and srinadhudu with other actors. He is aged about 50 years.
Dr.Meegada Ramalinga Swamy: he is working as reader in telugu in vizag college and having PhD in telugu.He is an actor,writer ,director and music composer of dramas, all rolled in to one making him multi talented. He is about 50 years of age. He is founder of his drama troupe “Meera jyotsna kala nikethan” in Vizag, and staging dramas throughout the state. He is the author of padyanatakams and some of the popular ones are 1)kalahastheswara mahathyam 2)Aswathama 3)Gunanidhi 4)Chiruthonda nimbi(bhaktha siriyala) 5)Nigama Sarma (from panduranga mahathyam kavyam) 6)Kunthi karna . In nandi parishaths, he won the best actor awards for the roles of nakkira, chiru thonda nimbi, nigama sarma and as best author,best director and music composer, in nandi and other parishaths, totaling about 20 awards. Some of his dramas are published and he recorded some popular padyams of various dramas in his audio CD “Telugu Velugu Jilugu” .He sings and explains the poems in vemana sathakam in the program Telugu Velugu being telecast at 11:30AM on every Sunday in ETV2 channel.
Dr.Akkiraju SundaraRamakrishna: He is MA PhD in telugu and recently retired as telugu lecturer, he is a poet, drama writer, actor, singer of light music and acted in some movies. He is wrote the drama Srinadha Vijayamu and acted as Srinadha. He is popular for the roles of Srikrishna, Arjuna , bilwamangala etc. He acted as Srikrishna in the drama Srikrishna Thulabharam featuring cine actress Jamuna as Sathyabhama at various places in AP. He renders padyams in a bold and majestic voice with very good diction and sings the film songs of Ghantasala very well. Dr. Kotte Venkatachari: He is PhD in telugu and working as senior telugu lecturer. He acts as duryodhana, bhavani sankara and Jalandhara etc. He also an author of dramas, and worked on the dramas of late Kallakuri Narayana Rao as his thesis for PhD.
Thirupathi HaraGopal: He retired from govt service and is popular for the roles of Annamacharya, Veerabrahmendra Swami, Srikrishna etc. I am the vice president and artist in the association Sri Srinivas Natya Mandali, Nellore founded by him and co-artists. This mandali performed the dramas Annamacharya, Veerabrahmendra Swami Charitra, Ganapathi Mahathyam throughout the state and in nandi Parishaths in the years 1999, 2002 and 2003 respectively. These dramas have been staged in Mumbai, Chennai and in all towns of AP, and also telecasted by door darshan Kendra of Hyderabad. Some portions of the first two dramas are shown in the video section. Hara Gopal recorded audio CDs 1) Sri Sai namamrutham, 2) Sri Veera Brahmmendra kala jnanamrutham 3)Swami Venkaiah Okkade.
Famous Artist Profiles :
Late Koppole Chenna Keshava Rao: He is good artist he played Harmonium, Mrudangam, Flute, acted as Anjaneya in Ramanjaneya Yuddam more than 50 dramas, as Sri Krishna in Sri krishna Rayabaram, as Nakshatraka in Sathya Harischandra, as Bhavani shankarudu in Chinthamani (played In Ravindra Bharathi). He participated in Padya patanam several times in AIR Hyderabad. He is as well Poet and His rachana Bhaktha Prahalada also Published. He is native of Rajavaram Village Haliya mandal Nalgonda Dist, expired in the year 1984 Nov at the age of 62 years only. (Artist profile sent by Jagannadha Rao Koppole)
Late Pulijala Kishan Rao: He is native of Pajjur Village Nalgonda dist. He acted as Sri Rama in Sri Ramanjaneya Yuddam, Arjuna in Sri Krishna Rayabharam, Gayudu in Gayopakhyanam . He also participated in Padya Patanam in All India Radio Hyderaad station. He expired in 1995 at the age of 71 years. (Artist profile sent by Jagannadha Rao Koppole)