N. T. Rama rao (NTR) was born on 28 May 1923 in Nimmakuru, a small village in Gudivada taluk of Krishna District, which was a part of the erstwhile Madras Presidency of British India. He was born to a farming couple, Nandamuri Lakshmaih and Venkata Ramamma, but was given in adoption to his paternal uncle. He attended school at first in his village, and later in Vijayawada. After his matriculation in 1940, he studied at SRR & CVR college in Vijayawada and at the Andhra-Christian College in Guntur. In 1947, he joined the Madras Service Commission as a sub-registrar, a much-coveted job that he nevertheless quit within three weeks to devote himself to acting.He developed a baritone singing voice as a young man.
NTR started his film career with a walk-on role as a policeman in Mana Desam (1949). Following this, he appeared in Palletoori Pilla, directed by B. A. Subba Rao. His first mythological film was in 1957, where he portrayed Krishna in the blockbuster film Maya Bazaar. He essayed the role of Krishna in 17 films, including some landmark films like Sri Krishnarjuna Yudham (1962), the Tamil film Karnan (1964) and Daana Veera Soora Karna (1977). He was also Known for his portrayal of Lord Rama, essaying that role in films like Lava Kusha (1963), and Shri Ramanjaneya Yuddham (1974) to name a few. He has also portrayed other characters from the Ramayana, such as Ravana in Bhookailas (1958) and Seetharama Kalyanam (1961) among others. He portrayed Lord Vishnu in films like Sri Venkateswara Mahatyam (1960) among others and Lord Shiva in Dakshayagnam (1962) and Uma Chandi Gowri Maheswarula Katha films. He has also enacted the roles of Mahabharatha characters, such as Bheeshma, Arjuna, Karna and Duryodhana.
Later in his career, he stopped playing the role of a prince in his commercial films and began to play roles of a poor yet heroic young man fighting against the existing system. These films appealed to the sentiments of the common man. Some of these films are Devudu Chesina Manushulu (1973), Adavi Ramudu (1977), Driver Ramudu (1979), Vetagadu (1979), Sardar Papa Rayudu (1980), Kondaveeti Simham (1981), Justice Chowdhary (1982) and Bobbili Puli (1982). He also portrayed fantasy roles, his notable film in that genre being Yamagola (1977). His film Lava Kusa, in which he starred as Rama, collected 10 million rupees in 1963. He directed and acted in the hagiographical film Shrimad Virat Veerabrahmendra Swami Charitra (1984). He also acted in films like Brahmasri Viswamitra (1991) and Major Chandrakanth (1993). His last film was Srinatha Kavi Sarvabhowmudu, a biopic on the Telugu poet Srinatha which released in 1993.
In the later half of his career, NTR became a screenwriter. Despite having no formal training in scriptwriting, he authored several screenplays for his own movies as well as for other producers. He also produced many of his films as well as other actor's films through his film production house National Art Theater Private Limited, Madras and later Ramakrishna Studios, Hyderabad. He actively campaigned for the construction of a large number of cinemas through this production house. He was influential in designing and implementing a financial system that funded the production and distribution of movies. He was so dedicated to his profession that he would often learn new things in order to portray a particular character on-screen perfectly and realistically. At the age of 40, he learnt dance from the renowned Kuchipudi dancer Vempati Chinna Satyam for his role in the film Nartanasala (1963).
NTR entered politics when he founded the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) on 29 March 1982 in Hyderabad. He said that this decision was based on a historic need to rid Andhra Pradesh of the corrupt and inept rule of the Indian National Congress which had governed the state since its formation in 1956 and whose leadership had changed the Chief Minister five times in five years.
First term as Chief Minister, 1983 - In the elections, the TDP allied with the Sanjaya Vichara Manch party and decided to field educated candidates who had a good name in the society and were not indulging in corruption, which was an innovative political concept at the time. NTR himself decided to contest from two assembly constituencies, Gudivada and Tirupati. NTR used many innovative ways of campaigning, such as being the first politician in India to use rath yatras for campaigning. However, it was MGR who had started the opentop van campaigning for elections, as it was felt that he can address the roadshows as an alternative to the mammoth meetings, which involves large amount of money as well as manpower. For this, he used a modified Chevrolet van which was given the name of Chaitanya Ratham. In this, NTR travelled across the state of Andhra Pradesh, crisscrossing all the districts. With his son Nandamuri Harikrishna, also a film actor, driving the van, NTR notched up over 75,000 kilometres during his campaign, a distinctive sight with the van's yellow party flags and banners and NTR sitting on top of the vehicle hailing the crowds. NTR campaigned for restoring the dignity of the Telugu people and advocated the forming a closer bond between the government and the common people, going into the elections with the slogan, Telugu Vari Atma Gauravam (lit. Telugu people's self-respect). In the elections, the TDP won by an absolute majority, winning 199 out of the 294 seats in the state assembly, with NTR himself winning both the seats he contested. Their alliance with the Sanjaya Vichara Manch fetched 202 seats. NTR was sworn in as the 10th and the first non-Congress Chief Minister of the state on 9 January 1983 with ten cabinet ministers and five ministers of State.
Loss of Power, 1984 - On 15 August 1984, NTR was removed from office by the then Governor of Andhra Pradesh Ramlal while he was in the USA to undergo open heart surgery. His finance minister, Nadendla Bhaskara Rao, a former Congressman who joined the TDP during its inception, was made the Chief Minister by Ramlal. Bhaskar Rao purportedly had the support of majority of the TDP MLAs which was never the case.
Return to Power, 1984 - NTR returned to India immediately after his surgery, disputed the claims by Bhaskara Rao and demonstrated his strength by bringing all the MLAs supporting him, which was a majority in the 294 member assembly, to the Raj Bhavan (Governor's Office). Ramlal did not relent, as a result of which NTR relaunched his Chaitanya Ratham campaign, this time campaigning for the restoration of democracy by mobilizing the support of people and various anti-Congress political parties in the country including the Janata Party (JP), the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Left Front, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), and the National Conference (NC). During the one-month crisis, the MLAs supporting NTR were secured in a secret place to avoid horse-trading. Due to mobilization of several political parties and the people and due to press, Indira Gandhi, unwillingly removed Governor Ramlal and appointed a Congress veteran, Shankar Dayal Sharma, as the governor of Andhra Pradesh to pave the way for restoring NTR. Shankar Dayal Sharma removed Bhaskara Rao from power and restored NTR as the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh in September 1984.
Third term as Chief Minister, 1994 - NTR returned to power for a third and final time in the December 1994 state assembly elections with his party in alliance with the Left Front. This alliance won 250 seats in the 294 seat Assembly, with the TDP alone winning 226. The Congress, which once again had multiple Chief Ministers in the state during its five-year rule between 1989 and 1994, won only 26 seats. NTR contested again from Hindupur and won the seat for the third consecutive time, achieving a rare hat-trick of wins from the same assembly constituency. He also won from another assembly constituency, Tekkali
Awards and honors
1968 Padma Shri award from the Government of India
1954 – Certificate of Merit for Best Feature Film in Telugu (producer — National Art Theater) for Thodu Dongalu.
1960 – Certificate of Merit for Best Feature Film in Telugu (producer — National Art Theater) for Seetharama Kalyanam.
1968 – National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Telugu (director) for Varakatnam.
1954 – Best Acting for Raju Peda
1963 – Best Acting for Lava Kusa
1970 – Nandi Award for Best Actor for Kodalu Diddina Kapuram
1972 — Best Telugu Actor for Badi Panthulu
1978 — Honorary Doctorate from Andhra University