DVS Raju, father figure of films, passes away


When someone who was a father figure to you passes away, it brings on a deep sadness but also an overwhelming sense of gratitude for having shared time on this earth with such a man. D V S Raju was such a man to me. And to hear of his death on Saturday produced such a sadness in me.
Raju Garu had been admitted to Care Hospital in Banjara Hills following a bout of illness 20 days ago. He breathed his last in the wee hours of Saturday. Having heard of his death today, I’m frustrated that I am here in UP, shooting a film, when I’d rather be among those others like me who will gather at his residence to recall their memories of him and pay a silent tribute to him.
D V S Raju was like my Peddananna.
He was a producer of several of my films. My first film for him was ‘Chinnanati Snehithulu’ and the last ‘Jeevitha Nowka.’ But our relationship was not one of producer-director.
He was part of my family. And he was a quintessential family man. The death of Buchchi Venkatapathi Raju, his eldest son, a month ago was a big blow to Raju Garu from which he could never recover. My deepest sympathies go out to his wife, son D V K Raju, daughters Lakshmi, Rama Devi and Subhadra.
I’ll always remember Raju Garu as ‘sthitha pragna’ (one who has complete control of his senses, unaffected by the world of pluralities).
Films didn’t mean money to him.
Once a film produced by him and directed by me flopped and he incurred heavy losses, I declined his offer to direct his next film. He politely told me that the director alone cannot be responsible for the failure of a film.
He said he was comfortable working with me.
Raju had a kind word for everyone he worked with. When I called on him after he lost his eldest son, even in his grief he recollected that I had made six films for him.
Born in Allavaram village in East Godavari on Dec. 13, 1928, D V S Raju was a close associate of NT Rama Rao.
In fact he was part of NTR’s theatre group, National Art Theatres (NAT).
When NTR moved to Madras, he went too. He was a sleeping partner in NAT which made films like ‘Picchi Pullaiah’ and Vaddante Dabbu’. He was associated with several NTR starrers like ‘Panduranga Mahatyam’ and ‘Gulebakavali Katha’, the last named film being noted for the debut of lyricist C Narayana Reddy.
Besides producing some great films, he did yeoman service to the south Indian film industry in general and Telugu film industry in particular, both in Chennai and then in Hyderabad.
He was instrumental in the creation of the South Indian Film Producers Council in 1965 and led it from the front as its secretary for about 10 years. He was indirectly responsible for the shaping of actors like Chiranjeevi, Rajnikanth and Rajendra Prasad.
They all trained in the Adayar Film Institute set up by the council when Raju Garu was its secretary.
He also made his mark as chairman of the National Film Development Corporation (NFDC). Richard Attenborough made his ‘Gandhi’ in collaboration with NFDC in Raju Garu’s time. And as can be expected of the great man, the profits from the film went to film workers. In fact, a lot of artistes and workers still receive financial help from the fund set up by DVS Raju.
Raju Garu was instrumental in solving several industry-releated problems. While he was the chairman of the State Film Development Corporation (SFDC), he built the Telugu Lalitha Kala Thoranam just in time for the National Film Festival in 1988.

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This post was submitted by Mudit Agrawal.

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