Pendyala Nageswara Rao, also known as PN Rao, was one of the most talented and erudite composers of all time. He was a man of many talents. Rao was also an actor, multi-instrumentalist, conductor, singer-songwriter, music producer, and musician.
Having worked predominantly in Telugu and Kannada cinema, he remains a legend in the fraternity. He was active in the film the industry from 1934 to 1984. Rao was born in Vanukuru near Vijayawada of Andhra Pradesh on 6th March 1917.
Music ran deep in his family's ancestry. His father Sitaramaiah too was a music exponent. Brought up in this tradition, Rao too began showing a keen interest in music from the time he was just a boy. At just the age of 13, he would accompany his father playing harmonium for dramas and learned the skill and its techniques.
Pendyala learned to play a whole gamut of instruments, including the Harmonium, the Tabla, the Dholak, the Mrudangam, the Flute, the Electric Guitar, the Piano and the Violin. He was a student of Kapilavai Ramanatha Sastry and became intimately associated with Mikkilineni Radhakrishna Murthy, because they were both his students. A multi-faceted personality, Rao acted for the first time as ‘Jambavathi’ in ‘Krishna Tulabaram’ play.
He later also played the characters of Rukmini and Narada in Tulabaram play, alongside Jonnavithula Seshagiri, Rushyendramani, and Lakshmirajyam. The film got very well received by the audience, which responded with applause.
Observing his enormous potential and many talents, Kadaru Nagabhushanam sent him an invitation to work in his orchestra for the film ‘Talli Prema’ (1941). He joined Rajeswari Films and worked as an assistant director to Dinakar Rao and S. V. Venkatraman for the film in Madras.
He returned home with the beginning of the Second World War. He was later invited by the famous Gudavalli Ramabrahmam to work for Mayalokam, as a harmonist under Gali Penchala Narasimha Rao. His entrance into the field as an independent Music Director in ‘Drohi’(1948), given to him by K. Prakash Rao gave him the independent Music Director won was critically acclaimed.
Over his lifetime, he has provided music for about 100 films, and some of them will forever remain memorable. He died on 31st August 1984. Rao will always remain a luminary in not just in the history of Telegu and Kannada films, but also Indian cinema as a whole. Songs like ‘Neene Kiladi Hennu,' 'Dhina Dhina,’ and 'Amba Saasvata Aagamaadi’ were iconic and are still intensively popular.