Veteran writer, dramatist and actor Raavi Kondala Rao was recently in Vizag. Teja Kovvali finds out more about his journey.
The First Steps
Raavi Kondala Rao had a penchant for acting since his early days. It was his grandmother who first identified his acting talent. “She used to motivate me to regularly enact different roles in front of the guests who would come home. In a sense, she was my first director and even gave me tips on facial expressions,” he fondly recollects. Eventually, he went on to play numerous mythological characters in school and at other places.
Fact Amaze: Raavi Kondala Rao has a prized possession of 9 Nandi Awards that honour his works as an actor, writer and historian.
Constant exposure to films, regular participation in dramas, and overwhelming accolades from his peers prompted the 16-year-old Rao to run away to Madras in pursuit of making it big in Telugu Cinema. However, with little knowledge about the nuances of the industry, he couldn’t reap much success and returned home to complete his studies.
Destiny again took Rao to Madras in 1954 when he got selected as a sub-editor for a weekly journal. It was during this period that he was introduced to the film industry. First as a writer, then as a dubbing artist and later as an Assistant Director; Rao donned different roles while trying his luck at acting. After playing small roles in a few films, the actor’s alliance with Mullapudi Ramana and Bapu helped him take a major turn in his career.
The film Preminchi Choodu (1964), had Rao play the role of Akkineni Nageswara Rao’s father. The character won him huge recognition and, and as he says, “there was no looking back” thereafter.
Rao shares that he has always enjoyed portraying lighter roles. “I never call myself a comedian. But, I get immensely satisfied when my action makes the audience laugh,” he says while citing the example of Charlie Chaplin.
Fact Amaze: Raavi Kondala Rao acted in more than 100 movies with his wife, Radha Kumari. The achievement stands as a unique feat in the film industry.
The Humour Club
It was the inclination towards making people laugh that made him take an applaudable step in 2000. During the period, Rao used to visit Vizag regularly to work for one of the local journals. Vexed with the low-grade comedy that was beginning to grow in Telugu films and TV programmes, he established the Visakha Humour Club to promote healthy humour that could be enjoyed by people across all age groups.
“Our members conduct programmes on the 2nd Sunday of every month and do our bit in making people gain some relief from their busy and hectic schedules,” the 86-year-old says.
Fact Amaze: The Visakha Humour Club was invited by the then governor of Tamil Nadu, K Rosaiah, to perform at the Ugadi celebrations at Chennai’s Raj Bhavan.
Adhering to the very motto behind its inception, the Visakha Humour Club has been entertaining many individuals over the past many years. In fact, the Club has grown so famous that the members travel to different cities in India to perform on special occasions. As the group enters its nineteenth year, Rao assures that the club will continue to delight the audiences across Vizag and more.