Archive for the ‘Telugu Cinema’ Category


Raghupathi Venkaiah Naidu (15.10.1887) was a pioneer in the Indian film industry. He was the first owner of movie theatres in Madras, the producer, the first exhibitor, studio owner and director of first few silent Indian movies and talkies.

Venkaiah’s father worked as a subedar in Indian Army, Machilipatnam. Venkaiah is the second son. He used to excel in the fields of drawing and sculpturing. At the age of 18, Venkaiah reached Madras (Chennai) and rented a small house to set up an art center. He started off with drawing and carving sculptures. Slowly he learnt photography and started experimenting. He happened to come across a news article on ‘Chrono Megaphone‘. When we project a film using Chrono Megaphone, it produces relevant sounds. Venkaiah ordered for that equipment from John Dickinson & Company in 1909. For this he lent out his photo studio for buying the equipment for Rs 30,000. He shot 12 short films and exhibited them in Victoria public Hall. He exhibits the films in Bangalore and Vijayawada. He also toured Srilanka, Rangoon and Peg to exhibit his films.

In 1910 Venkaiah established a tent house called Esplanade in Madras to exhibit his films. In 1912, he constructed ‘Gaiety Talkies’ in Mount Road, the first cinema theatre in Chennai. He later constructed ‘Crown’ Theater in Mint Street and Globe Theater in Parasuwakka, Chennai. He also exhibited American and British films. Some of the first movies shown in his theatres were ‘Million Dollar Mystery’, ‘Mysteries of Meera’, ‘Clutching Hand’, ‘Broken Coin’, ‘Raja’s casket’, ‘Peral fish’, and ‘Great Bard’.

In 1919, he started a production company called Star of East Films and a film studio called Glass Studio. He sent his son Raghupathi Surya Prakash to study in London. He was trained in cinematography in England and returned to India. Raghupathi Venkaiah and his son Prakash made their maiden movie “Meenakshi Kalyanam” around actual locations of Madurai Meenakshi temple. Later, they produced films like Gajendra Moksham, Mathsyavatharam, Nandanaar, and Bhishma Pratigna, the first Telugu mookie (silent film) movie. Raghupathi Venkaiah Naidu died on 15th March, 1941 in abject poverty after selling all of his properties.

The Andhra Pradesh State Government incorporated the prestigious Raghupathi Venkaih Naidu Award in 1981 in the honor of Raghupathi Venkaih Naidu. The winner of each year will be felicitated and presented a Golden Nandi, a Gold medal, citation and cash prize of Rs. 50,000.

The idle of Sri Raghupati Venkaiah Naidu, the father of Telugu Cinema has been unveiled at Film Nagar Cultural Centre (FNCC) on 15th March on the eve of Raghupati’s Vardhanti. Several stars of Tollywood, including the recipients of Raghupati Awards were also attended the event.


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