indian cinema heritage foundation

Atluri Poornachandra Rao

  • Born: 4 April 1925 (Andhra Pradesh)
  • Died: 29 October 2017 (Kapra, Telangana)
  • Primary Cinema: Telugu
  • Spouse: Marudwati

Veteran film producer and director Atluri Poornachandra Rao was active in South Indian as well as Hindi cinema from the 1960s till 2005. He was also a senior communist leader in Andhra Pradesh. Known for making films with social themes, his notable films include Aada Padachu (1967), Mathru Devata (1969), Papam Pasivadu (1972) and Venky (2004). He also produced Hindi films such as Maang Bharo Sajana (1980), Ek Hi Bhool (1981), Andhaa Kaanoon (1983), Aakhree Raasta (1986), Sansar (1987), and Chaalbaaz (1989). 

Born on 4 April 1925, into a middle-class family in Vanapamula village in Krishna district of Andhra Pradesh, he moved to Hyderabad in the late 1950s. Later, he shifted to Chennai to pursue a career in films. Frustrated with the overt commercialisation of Telugu cinema, the producer left Chennai in the 1970s and came to Hyderabad to begin life afresh.

He was influenced by leftist ideology and participated in the rationalist movement led by Gora. A member of the united Communist Party, he was also arrested multiple times.

Among the earliest films he produced was Koothuru Kodalu (1971). Directed by Lakshmi Deepak and written by Narasimha Murthy Adurthi and Dasari Narayana Rao, it starred Sobhan Babu, K V Chalam and Raavi Kondala Rao

It was followed by Devudu Chesina Pelli (1974), directed by Rama Rao Tatineni, written by Satyanand, and starring Giri Babu, Sobhan Babu and Murali Mohan. His 1980 production Ram Balram was directed by A Sanjeevi, written by Narasa Raju D V, A Sanjeevi and Gobind Senapati, and starred Uttam Mohanty, Anita Das and Deepa Sahu

The Hindi film Maang Bharo Sajana which he produced under the Lakshmi Productions banner, was directed by T Rama Rao. Starring Jeetendra, Rekha, Moushumi Chatterjee and Kajal Kiran, it was a remake of the Telugu film Karthika Deepam (1979). Exploring marital relationships, the film did well commercially, while Rekha was applauded for her performance as the other woman.

It was followed by his romantic drama production Ek Hi Bhool (1981), directed by Rama Rao Tatineni, written by Bhagyaraj and Rahi Masoom Reza, and starring Jeetendra, Rekha and Nazneen. The plot revolved around an estranged couple whose son grows up and attempts to reunite them.

The same year, he also produced the Telugu-language film directed by S A Chandrasekhar - Chattaniki Kallu Levu; it was a commercial success. The film, a revenge drama, depicted siblings Vijay (Chiranjeevi) and Durga (Laxmi) who seek to bring to justice the three murderers of their sister and father – namely John (Hema Sundar), Javed (Kannada Prabhakar) and Janardan (Ceylon Manohar). Durga, who becomes a police officer, wants the murderers to be punished legally while Vijay tracks them down and kills two of them, on each occasion frustrating his sister’s investigations. Eventually, Durga is kidnapped by Javed. She is then rescued by the hero, who, in her presence, goes on to eliminate the last remaining villain. The popular film belongs to the genre of vigilante revenge dramas that feature extensively in Chiranjeevi’s filmography. They were used to critique a corrupt legal system.

The Telugu action drama Mugguru Monagallu, which he produced in 1983, was directed by Tatineni Rama Rao, and starred Sobanbabu, Radhika Sarathkumar, Kaikala Satyanarayana, Giribabu and Nagendra Naidu, among others.

Andhaa Kaanoon, his hit action drama production of 1983, revolved around two siblings who attempt to avenge their parents’ death. However, their respective methods differ – while the sister places her belief in the law, the brother is determined to take the law into his own hands and deliver justice himself. Directed by Rama Rao Tatineni and written by Shoba Chandrasekhar, the film starred Rajinikanth, Hema Malini and Reena Roy. It was supported by an ensemble cast comprising Prem Chopra, Danny Denzongpa, Pran, Madan Puri and Amrish Puri. Amitabh Bachchan made an extended special appearance along with Madhavi and Dharmendra was seen in a cameo. It was a remake of the Tamil film Sattam Oru Iruttarai (1981). 

The following year, he produced John Jani Janardhan (1984), starring Rajinikanth, B Thyagarajan and Rati Agnihotri. Directed by Rama Rao Tatineni, the film told the tale of a sincere police officer who is killed by a liquor dealer. With the passing years, his twin sons resolve to avenge the death of their murdered father. 

In 1986 he produced Aakhree Raasta, an action crime drama directed by Bhagyaraj. Its plot depicted an ex-convict who is bent on revenge against the people responsible for his wrongful imprisonment but is pitted against his estranged son who is now a police officer. Written by Bhagyaraj, G M Kumar and Rahi Masoom Reza, it starred Amitabh Bachchan, Sridevi and Jaya Prada

Sansar, his production of 1987, was a drama film directed by Rama Rao Tatineni, written by K K Singh and Visu, and starred Rekha, Raj Babbar and Anupam Kher. A remake of the Tamil film Samsaram Adhu Minsaram (1986), the plot was based on the turmoil of the family of a postmaster. It presented the rift in the family due to a clash of egos among the children and their parents.

Chaalbaaz, his action comedy drama of 1989, was directed by Pankaj Parashar, written by Rajesh Mazumdar, Kamlesh Pandey and Pankaj Parashar, and starred Sridevi, Sunny Deol and Rajinikanth in the lead roles. The plot depicted twins separated at infancy who are brought up differently. One is the docile, the other, bold. When they encounter each other, their life is not the same anymore. Upon its release, the film was well received by critics and audiences alike, and emerged a commercial success. The film's story, music and Sridevi's Filmfare award-winning performance in the dual role, which is considered to be one of her best, were the highlights of the film. It would be remade in Kannada as Rani Maharani (1990) and in Odia as Ganga Jamuna (1993).

In 1992, along with Sudhir Bhatt, he produced Aaplee Manase, a Marathi film directed by Sanjay Soorkar. Starring Prashant Damle, Prajakta Dighe and Mohan Joshi, among others, it depicted the quandary a family faces after the father, who is presumed dead, later returns home alive.

In 1994, he produced the Bengali language film Kothachilo, directed by Tarun Majumdar. It starred Tapas Pal, Mahashweta Roy and Anup Kumar. The same year, he also produced another Tarun Majumdar directorial – Akuha Katha. A romance drama, it starred Debu Bose, Hemanta Das and Aparajita Mohanty

Venky, his 2004 Telugu production, was directed by Sreenu Vaitla and Gopimohan. This action mystery comedy revolved around Venky and his friends who are accused of murdering a girl's father and sister. Written by Kona Venkat, Sreenu Vaitla and Gopal Ram, it starred Ravi Teja, Sneha and Ashutosh Rana, and was a success at the box office.

The same year, he also produced another winner - Mr & Mrs Sailaja Krishna Murthy (2004). A romantic comedy starring Sivaji, Laila, and Dharmavarapu Subramanyam, it was directed by Siva Nageswara Rao

In 2005, he produced Avunanna Kadanna, written and directed by Teja. This Telugu language romantic drama starred Uday Kiran and Sadha. It was his last film as a producer.

He also directed the romance genre Hindi film Sachcha Pyar (1992). 

On the personal front, he was married to Marudwati and the couple had two sons.

Atluri Poornachandra Rao breathed his last on 29 October 2017. He was 92.