Bapu, a film director, screenwriter and illustrator, was born on 15 December 1933. With the birth name of Sattiraju Lakshmi Narayana, he is well-known around the industry as Bapu. He was born and raised in Narsapur, Andhra Pradesh. His father Sattiraju Venugopala Rao and mother, Suryakantham, moved from Chennai during the Japanese bombing and settled in Narsapur for three years. In Narsapur, Bapu went to Taylor High School, it was here he met Mullapudi Venkataramana and continued schooling at Kesari High School, Chennai. He holds a B.Com degree and graduated from the University of Madras with a BL degree in the year 1955.
Bapu is also a painter, cartoonist, music artist and designer. Bapu endeavored as a political cartoonist for the newspaper, ‘Andhra Patrika’ in 1945. His artwork influenced the people of Telugu culture so much that a pretty Indian lady is referred to as ‘Bapu Gari Bomma’. Later on in his life, Bapu drew and painted various illustrations for numerous magazines in India and abroad. His work mainly revolves around mythological stories of Hinduism. He painted a pictorial story of the Hindu epic ‘
’. During the year 1945, Mullapudi Venkataramana submitted a story called as ‘Amma Maata Vinakapothe’ to a children’s magazine called Bala. To the story, Bapu offered illustrations and thus the two began their journey as a writer-illustrator duo. The duo offered rich cultural nativity with capturing storyline on-screen.
Bapu debuted as a director with the film, Sakshi, in the year 1967. The film was the first made by the writer-director duo of Ramana and Bapu. The movie starred Krishna,
Sakshi Ranga Rao
. The combination of the two later went on to make films that stood out in the history of Telugu cinema. Movies like Sampoorna Ramayanam, Ramanjaneya Yuddam,
, and Bhakta Kannappa bewitched the viewers and remained one of the best till date. Bapu’s films revolve around relationship issues and contain a pinch of fantasy with mythological characters assisting the narration in the background. The films revolve around female leads breaking away from the traditional approach of sustaining the female character to song or skin show. Bapu also worked with Satyam Sankaramanchi, for whom he drew 101 pictures for every story in Amaravati Kathalu.
For his enriching contribution to the Indian culture, Bapu was awarded the Padma Shri by the Government of India in the year 2013. He received Lifetime Achievement Award from the Indian Institute of Cartoonists in 2001 and President of India Rashtrapati Award from the Academy of Fine Arts in Tirupati. He won six Nandi Awards for Best Feature Film for Director, the latest being, ‘
Sri Rama Rajyam
’ in the year 2011. The movie starred Nandamuri Bala Krishna and Nayanatara. Bapu received the Raghupathi Venkaiah Award for Lifetime Achievement in Telugu Cinema in 1986. Bapu won two
National Film Awards
for Best Feature Film in Telugu for ‘
’ and ‘Mister Pellam’. He received various other honours including the Asthana Vidwan by Andhra Pradesh Academy of Arts, “Shiromani” award from American Telugu Association in the year 1992 and the Honorary Doctorate “Kala Prapoorna” from Andhra University in the year 1991.
Bapu - Ramana combination left a signature impression on the Telugu film industry. To Ramana’s script and dialogue, Bapu would come up with suitable illustrations and vice versa. The duo received a Filmfare Award for Best Film - Telugu for the movie Mana Voori Pandavulu in 1978. Bapu directed well over 50 films including a few in Hindi and Tamil. Bapu died of a cardiac arrest on 31 August 2014 and was given a state funeral by the Government of Andhra Pradesh.