LV Prasad’s Journey: From Nothing To Becoming India’s Finest Filmmaker


Life in Telugu states would not be the same without the spirit of cinema, song and dance, melodrama, relevant messages- Our films have them all, and usually all together in one film. Stars and super stars, hits and failures, outright commercial films and the art genre of films- all are woven together as entertainment supreme. Of the numberless individuals associated with cinema, some are eternally identifiable. One among those is Shri Akkineni Lakshmi Vara Prasada Rao, also fondly known as L.V. Prasad.

The man, touted as the pioneer of Telugu cinema as well as the Indian cinema, was born on 17th January in 1908 in Eluru, West Godavari District of Andhra Pradesh. Born into an agricultural family, Prasad was a pampered child, very intelligent but never interested in studies. Here’s how his life has been a cinematic journey:

Cinematic Style Marriage:
He can also be called as the pioneer for ‘cinematic style weddings’. Prasad garu is said to have tied the knot in a truly cinematic style. He got married at the age of 17, to his maternal uncle’s daughter Soundarya Manoharamma.

Passion For Moving Images:
Prasad garu was always drawn by the drums of the touring theatres and drama troupes. Old and worn out film prints used to be shown in ramshackle tents and he used to regularly rush to watch them. He also used to do small roles in the local dramas regularly. This was the passion that drove his life – the passion for acting and the moving image.

Left Family & Everyone:
During the same time, their family faced a worse phase. Prasad’s father was finding the going tough due to mounting debts His father was forced to declare insolvency plunging the family into a deep state of depression and humiliation. This was the time when Prasad thought about his acting prowess to make a career and left his village, without telling anyone, one day with 100 rupees in his pocket.

Landed in Maharashtra:
Prasad garu had heard of a studio called Kohinoor in Dadar where cinemas are made and artists catch up. On the cold winter morning on the new year’s day of the year 1930, he got down at Dadar. He spoke neither Hindi nor English. He tried to convey his ambition to many using his sketchy English vocabulary to no avail. He was unable to gain entry into the studios. However, he would keep himself happy by peering through the holes in the zinc sheets that made the fencing for the Kohinoor Studios.

Theft – Losing All Money – Note by Thief:
One day, Prasad garu found out that his trunk broken open and whatever little money that was left was stolen. Interestingly, the thief had left a little money and a note suggesting him to go back to his village with the money. After reading it and giving it a thought, he left the hotel with his trunk but not to his home, instead, to a tailor shop opposite the Kohinoor Studios. Impressed by this, the shop owner allowed him to stay with him.

First Film:
Prasad garu landed himself a errand boy’s job in Venus Film Company. There , he met a punjabi youth Dharilal. Venus neither made any films nor did he get his wages. However, his sincerity rewarded him in the form of Dharilal’s sister, who was working in Imperial Film Company. She got Prasad garu a bit role in ‘Alam Ara’ – India’s first Talkie Cinema, released in 1931. In Imperial he met H.M.Reddy, who gave Prasad a small role in “Kalidas”, the first Tamil Talkie and subsequently in “Bhaktha Prahalada”, the first Telugu Talkie.

The Name – L.V. Prasad:
Prasad garu by chance got a role as an assistant director in Kamar – Al – Zaman directed by Ali Shah. This was also the time “Prasad” saw his name being shortened from Akkineni Lakshmi Varaprasad Rao to L.V.Prasad by a clerk taking attendance who found the name too long to utter. This name stuck with him forever.

Introducing NTR:
It was in 1949, Prasad garu directed “Mana Desam” and introduced N.T.Rama Rao in a minor role. In 1950 Vijaya Pictures released their first film ‘Shavukkaru’ establishing L.V.Prasad as a great director. N.T.Rama Rao became a hero in Shavukkaru and Janaki the heroine, climbed to fame to become known as ‘Shavukkar Janaki’. Samsaram released in the same year brought together the two legends of the Telugu film industry as brothers – N.T.Rama Rao and Akkineni Nageswara Rao in a social drama which created records wherever it was released.

Shivaji Ganesan:
L.V.Prasad directed a Magnum Opus “Manohara” starring the legendary Shivaji Ganesan in Tamil, Telugu and Hindi. This film elevated Shivaji Ganesan to the greatest heights of stardom. After this, success chased him. He directed some memorable films in the fifties – all of them known for their drama and fine humour.

His classics include Sharda, Milan, Khilona, Ek Duuje Ke Liye, Jeene ki raah, Bidai, Missamma, Shavukar, Mana Desam, Pelli Chesi Chudu, Samsaram and many other films. In his films, he has directed and worked with legendary names like Raj Kapoor, Meena Kumari, Sunil Dutt, Sanjeev Kumar, Kamal Haasan, NT Rama Rao, Akkineni Nageswara Rao, Shavukar Janaki, Saroja Devi, Jeetendra, Ashok Kumar, Rajendra Kumar, Mehmood, Nutan, Rakhee Gulzar, Shabana Azmi, Vinod Mehra, Smita Patil, Raj Babbar and Shatrughan Sinha amongst others.

Birth of industrialist in L.V.Prasad:
It was in mid-fifties L.V.Prasad established Prasad Productions soon after this in 1956. His second son Ramesh established Prasad Film Labs in Chennai in 1974. L.V.Prasad contributed generously towards the establishment of L.V.Prasad Eye Institute in Hyderabad, which is today, one the foremost eye research institutes in the world. The efforts started by him in 1956 is today one of the largest infrastructure for feature film post production in India with facilities and offices in India, Singapore, Dubai and Hollywood.

Awards & Achievements:
During his lifetime, L.V.Prasad held many posts and won many awards. In 1982, came the crowning glory of his lifetime – the Dada Saheb Phalke award from the Government of India, the highest recognition in Filmdom in India.

Prasad garu has dedicated his life to the world of cinema. His life teaches us how to not give up on our passion and dreams, how to always keep striving hard for the best. How not to settle after a quick success. Today, we celebrate his birthday and remember him as Telugus’ pride, who lived a ‘life of cinema’.


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