Bapu (film director)
Bapu at his early career
December 15, 1933
|Alma mater||University of Madras|
Bapu (born Satthiraju Lakshmi Narayana (Telugu: సత్తిరాజు లక్ష్మీనారాయణ) on December 15, 1933) is an Indian film director, known for his works in Telugu cinema  He is a music artist, painter, illustrator, cartoonist, and designer. In 2013, he was awarded the Padma Shri, for his contribution to Indian art and cinema. He has won two National Film Awards, five Andhra Pradesh state Nandi Awards and three Filmfare Best Director Awards in Telugu and a Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award – South for the year 2012.
Bapu's directorial venture saakshi was showcased at Tashkent film festival in 1968. Seeta Kalyanam was screened at the BFI London Film Festival and Chicago International Film Festival in 1978. Tyagayya (1981 film) was showcased at the Indian Panorama of International Film Festival of India in 1982 Bapu's 2011 film Sri Rama Rajyam had a special screening at International Film Festival of India on November 28, 2011.
He has also directed Bollywood films like Hum Paanch, Seeta Swayamvar, Anokha Bhakt, Bezubaan, Woh Saat Din, Pyari Behna, Mohobbat, Mera Dharam, Diljala and Prem Pratigya. He has also directed a Tamil film Neeti Devan Mayagugiran.
Early life and background
Bapu was born in Narsapur, West Godavari district, Andhra Pradesh, India in a Niyogi family. He graduated with a bachelor's degree in Art in 1953 and Law in 1955 from the University of Madras. He worked as a political cartoonist for the newspaper Andhra Patrika in 1945.
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Bapu introduced a painting style of simple bright colors. His unique style consisted of economy of strokes, freehand drawing and a lack of background clutter.
His paintings focus on Hindu mythological characters, and he has painted the Hindu epic Ramayana as a pictorial story. His character portrayals, such as Shiva, Bhima, Duryodhana, look distinctly male with wide chests, large jaws and large biceps; while Krishna and Rama are more feminine in build. All his female characters have doe eyes, a waist-hip ratio of 0.7, voluptuous breasts, long hair and a sharp nose. The phrase Bapu Bomma ("Bapu's painting") has become synonymous with a beautiful Telugu girl. Another character called Rendu Jadala Seeta ("Seeta with two plaits") became a synonym for any girl wearing her hair in two plaits.
Bapu has also introduced a new style of cursive writing in Telugu. The font is his own handwriting and reflects the same simplicity as his art.
Bapu paintings also decorated the cover pages of many magazines in India and Abroad. Telugu Naadi Magazine published from USA for Telugu audience have published Bapu's great paintings. Bapu also later served on their advisory board to guide and have an outstanding content for the magazine that catered to Telugu people.
The most notable achievement in Bapu's movie making is his success in capturing the nativity of the Telugu people and translating it into visuals. His movies center on realistic family issues and relationships, however his recurring theme is magic realism, with vignettes of mythological characters aiding in the narration.
Most of his movies have a female protagonist; 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 weak villains.
Association with Ramana
Bapu met Mullapudi Venkataramana in 1942 in P.S. High School, Madras. They studied there in standards V and VI and then continued schooling at Kesari High School.Ramana’s first short story 'Amma Maata Vinakapothe' was published in 1945 in 'Bala', a children's magazine published by Radio Annayya (Nyayapathi Raghava Rao),he was 14 then. Bapu illustrated the story. That was the beginning of their career as a writer-producer -illustrator- filmmaker duo”.
Started as an illustrator-story writer team and then turning into a film-director-writer duo, they have contributed immensely to the enrichment of Telugu cultural ethos through literature and cinema. When one mentions Bapu, then one is bound to mention Ramana's name too and vice versa. The most notable achievement in his movie making is his success in capturing the nativity of Telugu people and translating it great on-screen visuals. When ever the renowned duo of Bapu and Ramana come together for a project, viewers expect a spectacular visual of nativity with an equally enthralling storyline.
Their mythological ventures like Sampoorna Ramayanam, Ramanjaneya Yuddham and Seeta Kalyanam have been the milestones of Telugu cinema, while historical films like Thyagayya, Bhakta Kannappa and Sree natha kavisarvabhouma have been hugely successful. Bapu-Ramana combination has created movie magic on the large screen with some of the path breaking films in Telugu cinema and are ever remembered for films like Radha kalyanam, Velugu needalu, Bharyabharthalu, Bhogimanta, Mutyala muggu, 'Sakshi, Mr. Pellam', Pelli pustakam and Manavoori Pandavulu which popularised actors of those days like Krishna, Krishnam Raju, Chiranjeevi and Ravu Gopalarao.
Collaborations with other artists
He worked with Satyam Sankaramanchi and drew 101 pictures for each of the stories in Amaravati Kathalu. Bapu is one-half of the Bapu-Ramana (Mullapudi Venkata Ramana) pair that made movies in Telugu cinema. Ramana provided an able foil, providing script and dialogue to suit Bapu's visuals.
Bapu collaborated with Ramana to give life to Ramana's child prodigy character Budugu in the form of appealing caricatures.
Awards and honours
- Civilian honours
- Padma Shri - Government of India - 2013
- National honours
- Life Time Achievement Award from Indian Institute of Cartoonists – 2001
- President of India Rashtrapati Award from the Academy of Fine Arts, Tirupati
- National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Telugu – Mutyala Muggu
- National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Telugu – Mister Pellam
- Raghupathi Venkaiah Award – Life Time Achievement in Telugu cinema – 1986
- 1971: Balaraju Katha
- 1973: Andala Ramudu
- 1975: Mutyala Muggu
- 1991: Pelli Pustakam
- 2011: Sri Rama Rajyam
- Filmfare Best Director Award (Telugu) – Seeta Kalyanam (1976)
- Filmfare Best Director Award (Telugu) – Vamsa Vruksham (1980)
- Filmfare Best Director Award (Telugu) – Mister Pellam (1993)
- Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award – South - (2013)
- Other Honours
- Asthana Vidwan by Andhra Pradesh Academy of Arts.
- South Indian Film Director's Association Award for Best direction - Sampoorna Ramayanam - 1972
- Visishta Puraskaramu from Potti Sreeramulu Telugu University – 2002
- Life Time Achievement Award from Telugu Association of North America
- "Siromani" award from American Telugu Association – 1992
- Honorary Doctorate "Kala Prapoorna" from Andhra University – 1991
- Raja-Lakshmi Award in 1982 from Sri Raja-Lakshmi Foundation, Chennai – 1982
- As director
- About Bapu. bapubomma.com
- Balakrishna to act in Bapu's mythological film – Oneindia Entertainment. Entertainment.oneindia.in (2010-09-29). Retrieved on 2013-01-25.
- Filmfare Awards (South): The complete list of Winners
- Metro Plus Visakhapatnam / Cinema : Mullapudi leaves behind enduring legacy. The Hindu (2011-03-05). Retrieved on 2013-01-25.
- Arts / Cinema : Preview: Epic comes full circle. The Hindu (2011-11-12). Retrieved on 2013-01-25.
- Directorate of Film Festival. Iffi.nic.in. Retrieved on 2013-01-25.
- Sri Rama Rajyam at IFFI. Deccan Chronicle (2011-11-27).
- Bapu – filmography. idlebrain.com. Retrieved on 2013-01-25.
- bapuartcollection.com Bapu's Official Website with an extensive art collection
- Website about Bapu and an art gallery
- Bapu Art Gallery Online Shopping
- Bapu at the Internet Movie Database
- Telugu one – Bapu bommalu
- The Hindu article on Bapu