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Telugu creative genius Narsingh Rao's films regale Delhi
New Delhi | Sunday, Dec 21 2008 IST
 
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A Delhi audience had a feast of renowned Hyderabad-based filmmaker B Narsing Rao's art films and documentaries, which vividly depicit individual struggles against adversity, the cussed social structure in a semi-feudalistic setting to the crisis created in a family's life in an urban arena. The film retrospective opened with 'Dasi' (Bonded Woman), Rao's critically acclaimed film on the subservient lives of Indian women.

Rao's film won him a plethora of awards, including five National Awards. 'Dasi' highlights the exploitation involved in an age-old custom in South India where a woman from a lower caste is married to a sword and the rest of her life she is condemned to live the life of a village prostitute. The custom is still prevalent in the South's villages, notwithstanding the strides made by modernisation and the IT revolution. The commodification of women from depressed sections, is rarely--if ever at all-- questioned by society. Apart from a plethora of National awards, 'Dasi' bagged the Best Telugu film of 1988 award and 'Archana', who plays the role of 'Dasi', the National Award for Best Actress. Jointly organised by Sahiti and Andhra Association, the festival screened yesterday and today at Andhra Bhavan entails three feature films and two documentaries by Rao. 'Dasi' also got the best cinematographer, art director and costume designer awards in their respective categories. The story, music and direction of the film is by Rao himself, who is known to be a multi-faceted personality. The filmmaker, whom some consider to be a legendary figure, is also known for his talents in painting, photography, acting and music.

'Dasi' bagged the Diploma of Merit award at the Moscow International Film Festival in 1989. Due to its meticulous technicality and superior artistic sense, 'Dasi' was considered a milestone not only in Telugu but also in Indian cinema. The titles of the feature films and docomentaries have been dubbed in English. Rao, who was born with a golden spoon, was influenced by the Left's philosophy and principles. But at 62, spirituality has left a deep dent on his thinking and way of life. Rao now considers himself to be a 'Sufi'-- a fakir of sorts -- who is blessed with wealth and talent in equal measure, but feels that the purpose of life is to serve humanity and understand the purpose of the journey of planet earth. Another film--'Matti Manushulu' (Mud People, 1990)-- is based on the lives of construction labourers and their interaction with cosmopolitan life.

It received the Diploma in Merit award in the Moscow International Film Festival in 1991. Earlier in 1990, it won the National Award for best regional film in Telugu.

His documentary 'Maa Ooru'--'My village'-- is remniscent of his early years in a sleepy village, where little changed in the caste ridden society. The documentary received the prestigious Media Wave Award at the International Festival of Visual Arts held in Hungary. Another documentary 'Akruti' (shape) is about rock formations.

Beautifully captured, it brings out Rao's love for nature. It could pass the test of an international geography documentary. It won the Special Jury Award of the International Film Festival of India and also Silver Nandi Award in 1991. Rao says he owes his diverse talents to his rustic origins--the simplistic lifestyle of that rural folk, the pristine nature around, the naive influences, impressions and beliefs of people from the hinterland. In Telugu cinema circles, Rao is called 'The Killer of Kitsch', or one who goes against the tide. Narsing Rao entered the film world as a co-producer and music composer with his remarkable debut in the film, 'Maa Bhoomi' (My Land) which was made in the Telugu language in 1979. 'Maa Bhoomi' is based on Kishen Chander's novel on the Telangana uprising. In the field of photography and painting, Rao's attempt has been to bring out the origins of Andhra's folk art. Warm, sensuous and sometimes persuasive, the colours on Rao's canvas have deep personal and cultural associations. The elements of sensuality and serenity both marked in Rao's paintings and films appear to be the driving force behind the creative genuis, who is humble to a fault. The packed audience in the capital-- both Telugu speaking and otherwise-- are a testimony that there are still a significant number of people who want a shift from the unimaginative and middle class orieneted Hindi serials shown on the idiot box and the crass commercialism depicted on celluloid, often funded by the underworld and black money.

-- (UNI) -- 21DI27.xml

 

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