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Dadas from the south -F’day Spl. article by Naveen

Amitabh Bachchan has been selected this time for Dadasaheb Phalke Award, the highest honour for an Indian film personality. The recipient is honoured for their ‘outstanding contribution to the growth and development of Indian cinema’ and is selected by a committee consisting of eminent personalities.

While there are many from the north who had received the award so far, south Indian cinema  is not left far behind. There are notable personalities from Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Kannada film industries who were given the coveted honour in the past. A look at them:


In 1997, Sivaji Ganesan was conferred the Dadasaheb Phalke Award. He was also the first Indian actor to be made a Chevalier of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. He was known for his versatility and variety of roles depicted on screen, which gave him also the Tamil nickname Nadigar Thilagam.

In a career that spanned close to five decades, he had acted 288 films in Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam and Hindi. He was the first Indian film actor to win a ‘Best Actor’ award in an International film festival, the Afro-Asian Film Festival held in Cairo, Egypt in 1960. Many leading South Indian film actors have stated that their acting was influenced by Sivaji.

He received the President Award for Best Tamil Actor on twelve occasions. In addition, he received four Filmfare Awards South and a National Film Award (Special Jury).


Balachander was named for Dada Saheb Phalke Award in 2010. In his film career, Balachander had won nine National Film Awards and 13 Filmfare Awards. He was honored with the Padma Shri (1987), India’s fourth highest civilian award.

In a career that spanned 50 years, he had contributed to nearly 100 feature films either as a screenwriter or director, thus becoming one of the most prolific filmmakers in the country. Known among his colleagues as a tough task master, he was credited with having nurtured numerous actors, notably Nagesh, Sujatha, Kamal Haasan, Rajinikanth, Chiranjeevi, Jayaprada, Sridevi, Jayasudha, Saritha, Renuka, Nassar, Prakash Raj, Ramesh Aravind and Vivek.

Popularly referred to as Iyakkunar Sigaram, his films are usually centred on unusual or complicated interpersonal relationships and social themes. He started his film career in 1964 as a screenwriter and graduated to a director with ‘Neerkumizhi’ (1965).


Actor-director-producer L V Prasad has the distinction of acting in the first talkie films produced in three languages: the Hindi ‘Alam Ara’, Tamil ‘Kalidas’ and Telugu ‘Bhakta Prahlada’, all released in 1931. He founded Prasad Studios in 1965 and the Colour Film Laboratory in 1976. Prasad Studios has produced over 150 films in various Indian languages.

He was the chairman of the All India Selection Panel of Indian Panorama section for the 8th International Film Festival of India from 3 to 17 January 1981. Prasad was also the chairman of the International Jury for Children’s Film Festival held in November 1981 at Madras (now Chennai).

He was elected as the President of The South Indian Film Chamber of Commerce for the year 1982–83. He was a Member of the Board of Film Censors from October 1980 to February 1987.  Prasad was Chairman of the Studio Owners, Council, a wing of Film Federation of India. The Government of India released a Commemorative postage stamp in his memory in 2006.


Nagi Reddy produced many films, beginning in the 1950s. He established Vijaya Vauhini Studios in Chennai which was at that time the biggest film studio in Asia. Nagi Reddy along with his friend and partner Alur Chakrapani produced over fifty films in four decades in the four South Indian languages and also in Hindi.

He made devotional, social and historical Telugu movies. Some of his more notable films include ‘Pathala Bhairavi’, ‘Maya Bazaar’, ‘Enga Veetu Pillai’, ‘Missamma’ and ‘Uzhaipaali’. He made most of his films in association with screenwriter Chakrapani.

A new award was incorporated, commemorating his 100th birth year, the Nagi Reddy, memorial Award for the best Telugu and Tamil family entertainers. Nagi Reddy served as chairman of the board of Trustees of Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams between 1980 and 1983, and is credited for building the Vaikuntam Queue Complex that now serves to regulate pilgrims for darshan in the Tirumala Sri Venkateswara Temple.


Having debuted in ‘Dharma Pathini’ (1941), Akkineni Nageswara Rao acted in more than 250 films, mostly in the Telugu language. He starred in many landmark films in his seventy five-year career, becoming one of the most prominent figures in the history of Indian cinema

He is considered one of the greatest and most successful actors of Indian cinema and one of the two pillars of Telugu Cinema, along with N T Rama Rao. He was one of the instrumental figures in moving the Telugu cinema industry from Madras to Hyderabad in the early 1960s.

He established Annapurna Studios in 1975 to provide infrastructural support to the Telugu film industry in Hyderabad. He later started the Annapurna International School of Film and Media within Annapurna Studios in 2011.


Rama Naidu was the founder of Suresh Productions and has a place in the Guinness Book of World Records for the most films produced by an individual, having produced more than 150 films in 13 Indian languages. He also served as a member of parliament for the Bapatala constituency of Guntur District in the 13th Lok Sabha from 1999 to 2004.

In 2012, Ramanaidu was conferred with the third highest civilian award in the Republic of India, the Padma Bhushan, in recognition for his contribution to Indian cinema. In 2009, he was conferred with the Dada Saheb Phalke Award, the highest award for films in Indian cinema.

He has also received the Raghupathi Venkaiah Award, and the Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award – South for his work in Telugu cinema. Ramanaidu contributed a substantial part of his earnings to numerous philanthropic purposes under the ‘Ramanaidu Charitable Trust’ that was founded in 1991.


Bommireddy Narasimha Reddy was an Indian film director and an early figure in the Telugu cinema. He was eldest of the three brothers; others are B Nagi Reddy and B N Konda Reddy.
He was popularly known as B N Reddy. He WAS the director who balanceD artistic values and business needs in the right proportion. Many of his earlier films like ‘Vande Mataram’, ‘Devatha’ had Chittor V Nagaiah as lead.

His ‘Malliswari’ (1951 film) starring N T Rama Rao and Bhanumathi is considered a timeless Indian film classic. He was the first person to receive the prestigious ‘Dada Saheb Phalke Award’ from South India. He was the first Indian film personality to receive the Doctor of Letters honor.


Credited with pioneering the new wave cinema movement in Malayalam cinema, director Gopalakrishnan won the National Film Award for Best Direction for his debut film, ‘Swayamvaram’ (1972). He has been acclaimed for his “ability to portray complex problems in a simplistic way”.

In a career spanning over five decades, Adoor has made only 12 feature films to date. His films are made in the Malayalam language and often depict the society and culture of his native state Kerala. Nearly all of his films premired at Venice, Cannes and Toronto International Film Festival. Along with Satyajit Ray and Mrinal Sen, Adoor is one of the most recognized Indian film directors in world cinema.

For his films, Adoor has won the National Film Award 16 times, next only to Ray and Sen. He also won the Kerala State Film Awards a record 17 times. He was awarded the State honours Padma Shri in 1984 and the Padma Vibhushan in 2006.


In a career spanning over 45 years, Rajkumar acted in more than 200 Kannada-language films. Widely acclaimed as one of the finest actors in the history of Indian cinema, he is considered a cultural icon and holds a matinée idol status in the Kannada diaspora, among whom he is popularly adulated as Nata Saarvabhouma (emperor of actors), Bangarada Manushya (man of gold), Vara Nata (gifted actor) and Rajanna (elder brother, Raj).

He was honoured by Padma Bhushan Award in 1983. Rajkumar entered the film industry after his long stint as a dramatist with Gubbi Veeranna’s Gubbi Drama Company, which he joined at the age of eight, before he got his first break as a lead in the 1954 film ‘Bedara Kannappa’.

Trained in classical music during his theatre days, Rajkumar also became an accomplished playback singer and despite imperfections in Shruti and pitch, he came to be known for his diction in the language. He mostly sang for his own films since 1974. In his film career, Rajkumar received thirteen Karnataka State Film Awards including nine Best Actor and two Best singer awards, eight Filmfare Awards South and one National Film Award.

By Naveen

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