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Mallikarjuna Rao passes away

Special Correspondent

Telugu film comedian dies of leukaemia

-Photo: P.V. Sivakumar

Fraternity mourns: Film actors Chiranjeevi and his brother Naga Babu pay homage to the departed comedian.

HYDERABAD: Mallikarjuna Rao, a veteran of 375 Telugu movies in which he essayed impressive roles as a comedian and character artiste, is no more.

The 57 year-old actor died of leukaemia after being admitted to a private hospital in Jubilee Hills at around 11 a.m. on Tuesday, leaving behind wife, two daughters and a son who flew down from the USA. His body was taken to his birth place, Kasimkota, near Anakapalli, in the evening.

A man who is still remembered as ‘Battala Satti’ in director Vamsi’s ‘Ladies Tailor’, Rao essayed every role with aplomb in a career spanning a little over three-and-half decades.

After making millions laugh with his clean humour, he breathed his last, signalling his defeat in a losing battle against the disease.

Rao turned the spotlight onto himself with his portrayal of ‘Battala Satti’. He is also known for his roles in films directed by E.V.V. Satyanarayana and bagged the Nandi award for the best supporting actor in the film ‘Tammudu’.

Since morning, there was a steady stream of film personalities, Brahmanandam, Sunil, L.B. Sriram and character artistes Rajeev Kanakala, Ashok Kumar, Hema and producers and directors including Vamsi and E.V.V. Satyanarayana to the hospital to pay their respects to a man they had known for ages. Among those who bade him a tearful goodbye were megastar Chiranjeevi, his brother and producer Naga Babu, and actor Balakrishna. .

Apart from being a comedian of repute, he was also known for being responsive to artistes’ problems, in his capacity as general secretary of the Movie Artistes’ Association. There was a flood of messages condoling his death, including those of Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy and Opposition leader N. Chandrababu Naidu.

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