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Nagi Reddi passes away

By Ramya Kannan


CHENNAI, FEB. 25. B. Nagi Reddi, film producer, Dada Saheb Phalke awardee and philanthropist, died here today after a brief illness. He was 91.

Born at Pottimpadi in Cuddapah district, Andhra Pradesh, on December 2, 1912, his career graph ran parallel to the growth of Tamil and Telugu cinema. With the family export business, in which he had been involved since he was 18, collapsing after World War-II, Mr. Nagi Reddi had to start from scratch. Undaunted, he came here and revived the family's small printing press, which was nearly destroyed in the Japanese bombing of Madras. Taking an active part in the freedom struggle, Mr. Nagi Reddi started Andhra Jyothi, a socio-political monthly in 1945.

In 1947, Chandamama, a monthly children's magazine, was born, a result of the dreams of two friends: Nagi Reddi and Chakrapani. The magazine, which swiftly became a household name, was conceived as a child's link to the past, the myths, legends and cultures of India. The two wished to provide children "wholesome reading" and mould their character. The more glorious achievements were yet to come: the scripts, the movies, the studio and the hospital.

In 1949, he set up Vijaya Productions with Ramana Reddy, in 1950. Mr. Nagi Reddi made `Shavukaru' and introduced a young heroine, who after the movie, came to be called Sowcar Janaki. The 1951 fantasy `Pathala Bhairavi' captured the imagination of Tamil and Telugu audiences. Five years later, Mr. Nagi Reddi and Mr. Chakrapani co-produced `Missamma' (in Telugu) and `Missiamma' (in Tamil).

The hit comedy established Savithri and `Gemini' Ganesan as a popular lead pair. `Maya Bazaar' followed in 1957, by which time, Mr. Nagi Reddi had established himself as a `hit' producer.

He also dabbled in Kannada and Hindi films, making memorable hits such as `Julie', `Swarg Narak' and `Shriman Shrimathi'.

In recognition of his contributions, the Tamil Nadu Government conferred on him the Kalaimamani Award in 1972. In 1986, came the crowning glory: the Dada Saheb Phalke Award.

Mr. Nagi Reddi served twice as the Film Federation of India president and led the South India Film Chamber of Commerce four terms, shaping new paths for the industry in the south. He established the Vijaya Vauhini Studio, Vijaya Colour Labs and Vijaya Hospitals, under the Vijaya Medical and Educational Trust in 1979.

Mr. Nagi Reddi is survived by three sons and two daughters.

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