The ever-versatile and popular actor, writer, journalist, theatre personality and screenwriter Gollapudi Maruthi Rao is no more. He was 80 years old when he passed away at a private hospital in Chennai on Thursday. His wife Sivakama Sundari was beside him when Gollapundi passed away.
One of the best known writers in Telugu literary world and a good Telugu cinema writer, Gollapudi had a long history in both these worlds. Born on April 14, 1939 in Vizianagarm, Andhra Pradesh, Gollapudi completed his studies in Visakhapatnam and did his graduation in B.Sc from Andhra University. He began writing playwrights and was attached to theatre since childhood.
After graduating from college in 1959, Gollapudi joined as assistant editor in a Telugu newspaper, and later joined the All India Radio (AIR), Vijayawada and worked across Hyderabad, Sambalpur, Chennai and Kadapa to retire as an assistant station director.
He first penned dialogues for the Telugu film, Doctor Chakravarthy, starring Akkineni Nageswara Rao and Savitri. His first film was with the great director Adurthi Subbarao.
Gollapudi turned to acting with the film Intlo Ramayya Veedhilo Krishnayya, which brought him much appreciation. Tharagini, Maro Charitra, Abhilasha, Alaya Sikharam, Challenge and Swathi Muthyam are just a few of the many good films he acted in. Over the years in the film industry, he also won many awards as a writer, actor and screenplay writer.
His autobiography titled Amma Kadupu Challaga recounts his memories and associations with cinema and literature. Sayankalamayindi is one of his best novels, which created his mark in the literary world.
Gollapudi married Sivakama Sundari in November 1961 and had three sons, Subba Rao, Rama- krishna and Srinivas. He instituted the Gollapudi National Award for the best first film of a director across all languages in India in memory of his younger son, Srinivas, who died very young on August 12, 1992 while directing the film Prema Pustakam.
Maruthi Rao wrote many plays, one of which is Vandemataram, the first Telugu novel written after China occupied India in the ’50s. He even presented the play at Chittoor, Madanapalle and Nagari and gathered nearly `50,000, which he donated to the Prime Minister Relief Fund. The then-foreign minister, late P.V. Narasimha Rao wrote the foreword for the play. Later, in 1959, he wrote another play Ragaragini, which he presented before Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, the then-Vice President of India.
Interestingly, Gollapudi Maruthi Rao was one who’d introduced the current Tamil superstar Ajith into the industry with the Telugu film Prema Pustakam, which his son Srinivas directed. Gollapudi had taken strong objections and spoke about it freely, in his autobiography as well as to others, about Ajith not showing gratitude for the debut as he never credited Srinivas for the film.
Gollapundi, who lived in Visakhapatnam for many decades, had settled down in Chennai with his two sons a few years ago. His sons now look after the international travel agency he had started....