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Andhra Pradesh, India

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Adurthi Subba Rao


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. Rao is widely regarded as the intellectual fountainhead of Indian drama films.


 He has garnered seven National Film Awards. Rao made his foray into cinema as an 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.


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. The film also won the National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Telugu that year.


The 1964 film Doctor Chakravarthy was adapted by Rao based on Koduri Kousalya Devi's Novel Chakrabhramanam. The box office success was awarded the National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Telugu, and the state Nandi Awards for that year. 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.


In 1968, Rao experimented with courtroom drama and detective fiction in his work Sudigundalu, the film received a special mention at the Tashkent and Moscow Film Festivals for its inherent "film with a key" narrative. 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.


He was born to Sathanna Panthulu and Rajalakshmamma on 16 December 1912. His father was the Tehsildar of Rajahmundry. Adurthi Subbarao completed the 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 in Photography, and completed two years.


He then worked in the processing and printing department of the 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 the Tamil film Parijatapaharanam.

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