Date/Place: Narsapur, West Godavari district, Andhra Pradesh, India.
Sattiraju Lakshmi Narayana, also known as Bapu, was born on 15 December 1933 in Narsapur, West Godavari district, Andhra Pradesh, India. He is a filmmaker in the Telugu film industry. He is also a popular artist, painter, cartoonist, and designer.
He graduated as a lawyer from University of Madras in 1955.
He joined as political cartoonist for the newspaper Andhra Patrika in 1955.
Bapu introduced a style of painting that uses simple bright colours. His unique style of economy of strokes, freehand drawing and lack of background clutter makes his paintings simple, beautiful and popular. He specializes in Hindu mythological characters and has painted the Hindu epic Ramayana as a pictorial story.
In his paintings, characters like Shiva, Bhima, Duryodhana look distinctly male with wide chests, bigger jaws and large biceps, while Krishna and Rama are more feminine in build. All his female characters (including the Hindu goddesses) have doe-like eyes, a waist-hip ratio of 0.7, voluptuous breasts, long hair and a sharp nose. In fact, the phrase [Bapu Bomma] ("Bapu's painting") has become synonymous with a beautiful Telugu girl. Another character called Rendu Jadala Seetha ("Seetha with two plaits") later became a synonym for any girl wearing her hair in two plaits.
Bapu has also introduced a new style of cursive writing in Telugu. This font is his own handwriting and reflects the same simplicity as his art.
Collaborations with other artists
He worked with Satyam Sankaramanchi and drew a hundred and one pictures for each of the stories in Amaravati Kathalu.
He is the popular half of the Bapu-Ramana (Mullapudi Venkata Ramana) pair that made movies that went on to define subtlety in Telugu cinema. Ramana provided an able foil, providing script/dialogue that suited Bapu's visuals and this celebrated friendship and professional associatioon gave many good cinemas. He collaborated with him and gave life to Mullapudi's characters Budugu and his family in the form of pictures.
He helped to unearth great artists such as Ravu Gopal Rao, and get the best out of those such as Rajendra Prasad and Aamani.
Movies directed by Bapu
1. Saakshi (The Witness), 1967 2. Bangaru Pichika (The Golden Bird), 1968 3. Buddhimanthudu (The Good Boy), 1969 4. Inti Gowravam (Honour of the House), 1970 5. Balaraju Katha (The Story of Balaraju), 1970 6. Sampoorna Ramayanam (The Complete Ramayana), 1971 7. Andhala Ramudu(The Handsome Rama), 1973 8. Sri Ramanjaneya Yuddham (The War between Rama and Hanuman), 1974 9. Muthyala Muggu, 1975 10. Seetha Kalyanam (The Wedding of Sita), 1976 11. Sri Rajeswari Vilas Coffee Club, 1976 12. Bakta Kannappa (Worshipper Kannappa), 1976 13. Seeta Swayamvar, 1976 14. Sneham (Friendship), 1977 15. Manavoori Pandavulu(Pandavas of Our Village), 1978 16. Gorantha Deepam(The Flickering Lamp), 1978 17. Anokha Shivbhakt, 1978 18. Toorupu Velley Railu(The Train Going East), 1979 19. Vamsa Vriksham(The Family Tree), 1980 20. Rajadhi Raju (The King of Kings), 1980 21. Pandanti Jeevitham, 1980 22. Kaliyuga Ravanaasurudu (Demon Ravana of Kaliyug), 1980 23. Hum Paanch (We Five), 1980 24. Tyagayya (the life of Saint Tyagaraja), 1981 25. Radha Kalyanam (The Marriage of Radha), 1981 26. Bezubaan (The Mute), 1981 27. Krishnavatharam(The Incarnation of Krishna), 1982 28. Pelleedu Pillalu (The Marriageable Children), 1982 29. Neethi Devan Mayagugiran (Even the God of Justice Is Confused), 1982 30. Edi Dharmam Edi Nyayam (What Is Truth? What Is Justice?), 1982 31. Manthri gari Viyyankudu, 1983 32. Woh Saat Din (Those Seven Days), 1983 33. Seethamma Setha (The Doings of Seetha), 1984 34. Mohabbat (The Love), 1985 35. Pyari Behna (Beloved Sister), 1985 36. Bullet, 1985 37. Jackie, 1985 38. Mera Dharam (My Duty), 1986 39. Pyaar Ka Sindoor (The Vermilon of Love), 1986 40. Kalyana Thamboolam (The Betrothal), 1986 41. Diljala (Heartburn), 1987 42. Prem Pratigyaa (The Oath of Love), 1989 43. Pelli Pustakam (The Book of Marriage), 1991 44. Mr.Pellam (Mr.Wife), 1993 45. Srinadha Kavi Sarvabhoumudu, 1993 46. Pelli Koduku, 1994 47. Pramaatma, 1994 48. Rambantu(The Servant of Rama), 1996 49. Radha Gopalam (Radha and Gopalam), 2005.
Hindi Movies are Hum Paanch, Bezubaan, Pyari Behna, Mohobbat, Mera Dharam, Diljala, Woh Saath Din and Prem Pratigya.
The most notable achievement in his movie making is his success in capturing the nativity of the Telugu people and translating it great on-screen visuals. His movies deal with very real familial troubles and relationships but most movies have a recurring theme of magic realism, with vignettes of mythological characters aiding in the narration.
Most of his movies have a female protagonist; this was, and remains, a breakaway style from the formulaic movies that relegate female lead characters to song and dance numbers. His penchant for preserving the Telugu nativity in his movies can be seen in the choice of artists, especially the dusky female leads and very un-intimidating villains, which is uncommon in the industry. The pace is relatively slow, the humor spontaneous and innocent and the visuals captivating.
Bapu has designed some saris. The collection of saris used in the 1991 movie Pelli Pustakam were designed by Bapu.
Awards and Acclaim
Bapu was awarded the Raghupathi Venkaiah Award by the State Government of Andhra Pradesh for his "outstanding contribution to Telugu cinema" in 1986. He shared the award with his soul-mate Mullapudi Venkata Ramana.
Bapu was conferred with the prestigious Raja-Lakshmi Award in the year 1982 from Sri Raja-Lakshmi Foundation, Chennai.
There is a Telugu saying from "Koonalamma Padalu" in praise of Bapu:
* కొంటె బొమ్మల బాపు Bommala Bapu, * కొన్ని తరముల సేపు Konni Tharamula Sepu, * గుండె ఊయలలూపు Gunde OOyala-loopu, * ఓ కూనలమ్మ O Koonalammaa.
("Bapu's paintings sway the hearts for generations")
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