Media baron Ramoji Rao passes away

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8 June 2024

Ramoji Rao, one of the most respected and influential names in the fields of entertainment, journalism and business, passed away in the early hours of Saturday. He was 87. Rao was admitted to Star Hospital in Hyderabad on June 5 after experiencing high blood pressure and breathlessness.

Born on 16 November 1936 in Pedaparupudi of Krishna District, Madras Presidency, India into an agricultural family, Rao’s parents, Venkata Subbarao and Venkata Subbamma, named him Ramayya in honour of their grandfather, which he later changed to “Ramoji”.

His childhood was marked by a strong urge to learn new things, engage in creative endeavors, and contribute to the welfare of farmers. He studied at Gudivada Municipal High School and later got his B.Sc degree from Gudivada College. After completing his education, he started his career in the national capital, working as an artist for an advertising agency.

Achieving success with Priya Pickles and Margadarsi Chitfunds, Rao launched Eenadu newspaper from Visakhapatnam on 10 August 1974. Within four years, its circulation reached a readership of 48,000 and afterwards there was no looking back as the daily emerged as the number 1 choice for Telugu readers.

He floated a production house, Usha Kiran Movies, in 1983 with Srivariki Premalekha (1984), directed by Jandhyala, being their first film. It was a box office smash, launching the career of Naresh, who is now a popular supporting actor. Overall, Usha Kiran Movies produced more than 80 films with the majority of them in Telugu, along with a few in Kannada, Hindi and other languages. Known for backing young talent, championing women’s rights while addressing various humanitarian issues, some of Rao’s famous productions include Mayuri, Prathighatana, Mouna Poratam, Preminchu Pelladu, Aswini, Chitram, Nuvve Kavali and Anandam among others.

He built Ramoji Film City, the world's largest film studio spread over 1,666 acres in Abdullahpurmet, Hyderabad, in 1996 and so far thousands of films, cutting across Indian languages, have been shot there. The studio entertained a simple yet significant message to all filmmakers: "Walk in with your script and walk out your print.”

Rao’s other business ventures include Margadarsi Chit Fund, Dolphin Group of hotels, Kalanjali shopping mall and Mayuri Film Distributors.

In total, he had garnered four Filmfare Awards South, five Nandi Awards and the National Film Award for his works in Telugu cinema. In 2016, he was honored with the Padma Vibhushan, India's second-highest civilian honor, for his contributions in journalism, literature and education.

The Telangana government has decided to perform the last rites of Ramoji Rao with state honours.


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