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Biography of B. Padmanabham
Basavaraju Venkata Padmanabha Rao (20 August 1931 – 20 February 2010), popularly known as Padmanabham, was a Tollywood actor known for his comedian roles. He was also a film producer and director.
He was born to Santham and Basavaraju Venkata Seshaiah in Simhadripuram, Pulivendula, Kadapa.
Padmanabham was essentially a theatre artist, although he also found success in films. He co-founded a theatre group with his friend Vallam Narasimha Rao, Rekha and Murali Arts with S. P. Kodandapani as their music director. He most recently acted in Telugu movies Chakram and Tata Birla Madhyalo Laila.
Basavaraju Venkata Padmanabha Rao, better known as Padmanabham to generations of countless fans in Telugu cinema, turned 75 recently. He began his tryst with the tinsel world in 1943 when he was just 12, when the legendary director Gudavalli Ramabrahmam gave him a break in Maayalokam. Since then, Padmanabham traversed a long distance by acting in more than 400 movies.
"If Ramabrahmam gave me a break in films, K.V. Reddy gave me some major hits. Shavukaaru in 1949 was my first major hit, and it also gave me a footing as a comedian. The very next year, Paatala Bhairavi came along and it helped me find a permanent place in the world of Telugu cinema," Padmanabham recalled .
Like many others of his era who had no godfathers to give them a straight lift in films, Padmanabham too landed in Madras with only fire in his belly and a talent to sing and imitate any actor of those days. Though he worked with almost 80 directors in his long career, Padmanabham cherishes most his association with Gudavalli Ramabrahmam, Ghantasala Balaramayya, L.V. Prasad and K.V. Reddy. "They were really great directors," he says.
Padmanabham is proud that he never aspired for any role but directors sometimes designed certain roles exclusively for him. "A comedian in those days was always one of the four main characters in a film, standing on the same level as a hero, heroine and villain. I don't think comedians of the present era are getting the same importance," he remarks.
The veteran finds it hard to mention any particular comic role as his most memorable one, but makes a special mention of the role of a rickshaw puller that he played in Desoddhaarakudu (1975). "It had ample measure of `karuna rasa' in it and I could display the other shade of my talent," he says. The role became famous for the song 'Aakalayyi Annamadigithe Pichchodannaru Naayaallu'. Padmanabham, who directed eightfilms in all, introduced S.P. Balasubrahmanyam to the film industry through Sri Sri Sri Maryada Ramanna.Kathanayika Molla, which he directed in 1969 fetched him the A.P. Government's award. Padmanabham fondly recalls the healthy professional relationship he had with comedians of his era - Relangi, Balakrishna and Siva Rao. He says every comedian of the present generation is immensely talented but handicapped by the inept handling of comedy in general. Presently acting in a TV serial Paatala Bhairavi, "not a remake of that old classic," he hastens to add, Padmanabham continues to be in the best of his health, thanks to his regular yoga sessions for the last 50 years.
Padmanabham died in Chennai on 20 February 2010 from a heart attack, aged 78.
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