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Adurthi Subba Rao (16 December 1912 – 1 October 1975) was an Indian film director, cinematographer, screenwriter, editor and producer known for his works predominantly in Telugu cinema, bollywood, and Tamil cinema. Rao is widely regarded as the intellectual fountain head of Indian drama films.[1][2] He has garnered seven National Film Awards.[1][3] Rao made his foray into cinema as Associate to Uday Shankar in the 1948 dance film Kalpana, which was showcased in the "Treasures from National Film Archive of India" at the 39th International Film Festival of India.[4] The 1960 film Nammina Bantu was a work of drama in the broader sense achieved by means of actors who represented mimesis throughout the narrative. The film was simultaneously shot in Tamil as Pattaliyin Vetri. Upon release both versions received critical acclaim. The Telugu work was screened at the San Sebastián International Film Festival.[5] The film also won the National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Telugu for that year.[6][5][1]

Adurthi Subba Rao
ఆదుర్తి సుబ్బా రావు
Born(1912-12-16)16 December 1912
Died1 October 1975(1975-10-01) (aged 62)
Madras, India
Alma materSt. Xavier's College, Mumbai
Spouse(s)Kameswari Bala
AwardsSeven National Film Awards
Nandi Awards
Filmfare Awards South

The 1964 film Doctor Chakravarthy was adapted by Rao based on Koduri Kousalya Devi's Novel Chakrabhramanam. The film was the first film to win the Nandi Award, instituted by Government of Andhra Pradesh in 1964.[7][8] The box office success was awarded the National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Telugu for that year.[9] Rao's next work was Mooga Manasulu based on the concept of reincarnation, the first of its kind in Indian cinema in the genre of semi-fiction intended to be more serious in tone with elements that encourage a broader range of moods throughout the narrative. The film was remade in Hindi as Milan (1967) directed by Rao himself, while the Tamil Praptham (1971) was adapted from Rao's work. The Telugu version received the National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Telugu, and the Filmfare Best Film Award (Telugu) in 1964 and was screened at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival.[10][11]

In 1968, Rao experimented with courtroom drama and detective fiction in his work Sudigundalu, the film received special mention at the Tashkent and Moscow Film Festivals for its inherent "film with a key" narrative.[12][13][14] The film has garnered the National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Telugu, The Nandi Award for Best Feature Film, and the Filmfare Award for Best Film - Telugu for that year and was featured at the International Film Festival of India.[12][13]


Early life and CareerEdit

He was born to Sathanna Panthulu and Rajalakshmamma on 16 December 1912. His father was the Tehsildar of Rajahmundry. Adurthi Subbarao completed school final (Matriculation) at the age of 14. He joined Kakinada PR College to do his Pre-University Course. He joined the St. Xavier's College, Mumbai in a three-year course of Photography, and completed two years.[1]

He then worked in the processing and printing department of Bombay Film Lab. Then he joined film editor Dina Narvekar as his assistant. He started his film career as a cinematographer, editor and screenwriter. His directorial journey started as an assistant director in Bollywood, under Uday Shankar for his Hindi film Kalpana. He has also worked as an editor and assistant director for the film. His debut film as an editor was Tamil film Parijatapaharanam.[1]


In 1957 Rao adapted Sharat Chandra Chatterjee's Bengali novel Nishkruti, which was simultaneously shot in Telugu as Thodi Kodallu, and Tamil as Engal Veettu Mahalakshmi (1957); both movies were made simultaneously by the same banner and director, and some of the scenes and artists are the same in both versions. The film won the Certificate of merit for Best Feature Film in Telugu. In 1959 Rao directed romantic drama Mangalya Balam, Rao adapted Mangalya Balam to the Telugu screen from the Bengali work Agni Pariksha, The Telugu version was simultaneously shot in Tamil as Manjal Mahimai; both versions became box office successes. The former winning the National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Telugu,[15] and the Filmfare Award for Best Film – Telugu in 1960. In 1961, Rao directed K. S. Gopalakrishnan's Kumudham; remade in Telugu as Manchi Manasulu (1962). Kumudham was released on 29 July 1961 with final reel length of 4,501 metres (14,767 ft) and became a commercial success at box office. The film received Certificate of Merit for Third Best Feature Film at 9th National Film Awards. Rao scripted and directed the 1976 biographical film; Mahakavi Kshetrayya based on the life of Kshetrayya,[16][17] Rao had expired in the middle of the making of the film; and director C. S. Rao completed the rest of the shoot.[18]

Mentor to K. Viswanath and KrishnaEdit

Rao's Biography has been published by veteran actor Krishna, who made his Telugu film debut under the direction of Subba Rao.[19][20] Veteran director K. Viswanath has worked as an associate director of Subba Rao for many years. The Telugu film chamber of commerce has instituted the Adurthi Subba Rao Award in his honor.[21]



Year Film Language Role
1948 Kalpana Hindi Assistant Director
1954 Balanandam Telugu Assistant Director
1954 Amara Sandesham Telugu Director
1957 Todi Kodallu Telugu Editor, Screenplay and Director
1957 Engal Veettu Mahalakshmi Tamil Editor, Screenplay and Director
1958 Aada Pettanam Telugu Director
1959 Mangalya Balam Telugu Writer and Director
1959 Manjal Mahimai Tamil Writer and Director
1959 Engal Kuladevi Tamil Director
1960 Nammina Bantu Telugu Director
1960 Pattaliyin Vetri Tamil Director
1960 Kumudham Tamil Director
1961 Iddaru Mitrulu Telugu Director
1961 Krishna Prema Telugu Director
1962 Manchi Manasulu Telugu Director
1963 Chaduvukunna Ammayilu Telugu Screenplay and Director
1964 Mooga Manasulu Telugu Director
1964 Dagudumootalu Telugu Director
1964 Doctor Chakravarty Telugu Director
1961 Velugu Needalu Telugu Director
1965 Sumangali Telugu Director
1965 Tene Manasulu Telugu Writer and Director
1965 Todu Needa Telugu Director
1966 Kanne manasulu Telugu Director
1967 Milan Hindi Screenplay and Director
1967 Poola Rangadu Telugu Director
1967 Sudigundalu Telugu Screenplay and Director
1968 Man Ka Meet Hindi Director
1969 Doli Hindi Screenplay and Director
1970 Darpan Hindi Producer and Director
1970 Maro Prapancham Telugu Director
1970 Mastana Hindi Director
1971 Rakhwala Hindi Director
1972 Jeet Hindi Producer and Director
1972 Vichitra Bandham Telugu Director
1973 Insaaf Hindi Director
1973 Jwar Bhata Hindi Director
1973 Mayadari Malligaadu Telugu Producer and Director
1974 Bangaaru Kalalu Telugu Director
1975 Gajula Kishtaiah Telugu Producer and Director
1975 Gunavantudu Telugu Director
1975 Sunehra Sansar Hindi Director
1976 Mahakavi Kshetrayya Telugu Director

See alsoEdit

  • List of National Film Award records


  1. ^ a b c d e Master movie maker - The Hindu
  2. ^ Stars : Star Profiles : Adurti Subbarao: A Tribute Archived 2 November 2013 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ "Krishna Chaitanya « Page 2". Archived from the original on 5 May 2014. Retrieved 1 March 2014.
  4. ^ "NFAI brings its treasures to IFFI-Goa". Ministry of Information and Broadcasting PIB. 25 November 2008.
  5. ^ a b "Profile of Gummadi — Telugu film actor".
  6. ^ a b "7th National Film Awards" (PDF). Directorate of Film Festivals. Retrieved 4 September 2011.
  7. ^
  8. ^ Archived 30 January 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ "Ramadasu (1964) Awards - Award Winners Of Ramadasu Telugu Movie".
  10. ^ "11th National Film Awards". International Film Festival of India. Retrieved 13 September 2011.
  11. ^
  12. ^ a b "15th National Film Awards" (PDF). Directorate of Film Festivals. Retrieved 21 September 2011.
  13. ^ a b "Film producer passes away".
  14. ^ a b Collections. Update Video Publication. 1991. p. 387.
  15. ^ "6th National Film Awards". International Film Festival of India. Retrieved 3 September 2011.
  16. ^ "Mahakavi Kshetrayya (Banner)". Filmiclub.
  17. ^ "Mahakavi Kshetrayya (Direction)". Know Your films.
  18. ^ "Mahakavi Kshetrayya (Review)". The Cine Bay.
  19. ^ Adurthi Subba Rao Book launch by Krishna, Mahesh Babu & Kasinadhuni Viswanath - Telugu cinema news
  20. ^ Adurthi Subba Rao - Biography - IMDb
  21. ^ Events - Adurthi Subbarao Awards Presented gallery clips actors actress stills images
  22. ^ "6th National Film Awards". International Film Festival of India. Archived from the original on 20 October 2012. Retrieved 3 September 2011.
  23. ^ "5th National Film Awards" (PDF). Directorate of Film Festivals. Retrieved 2 September 2011.
  24. ^ "9th National Film Awards". International Film Festival of India. Archived from the original on 2 December 2016. Retrieved 8 September 2011.

External linksEdit