Former Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N T Rama Rao’s family made a rare appearance together on Monday at an event organised to unveil a commemorative coin in the late actor’s honour. The large family — NTR had 12 children — of sons, daughters, son-in-laws and grandchildren was pictured with President Droupadi Murmu, who released the coin.
However, the pretty picture hid the deep cracks within the family, that have developed over a period of 30 years —- emerging out of a marriage, a coup, and clashing loyalties.
President Droupadi Murmu released the commemorative coin on Late Shri NT Rama Rao on his centenary year at RBCC. The President said that Late Shri NT Rama Rao has enriched Indian cinema and culture through Telugu films. NTR’s popularity was equally wide as a public servant and… pic.twitter.com/GeF2C3n0dE
— President of India (@rashtrapatibhvn) August 28, 2023
First, the family tree
NTR was born in May 1923 and married Basavatarakam in 1943. They had 12 children together.
In 1962, NTR lost his eldest son Ramakrishna to ill health. Following his death, he founded a studio named after him on the outskirts of Hyderabad.
His second son N Jayakrishna is a film producer and businessman. NTR’s third son Saikrishna, who owned several cinema theatres, also died due to ill health in 2004.
Fourth son Nandamuri Harikrishna found success as an actor, and starred in over a dozen films. He was a TDP Rajya Sabha member from 2008 to 2013. On August 29, 2019, Harikrishna, then 61, died in a car crash.
NTR’s fifth son is Balakrishna, among the most famous actors of the Telugu film industry (also known as Tollywood), with nearly a hundred films behind him. He had been actively campaigning for the TDP for several years before he formally entered politics in 2014, when he contested and won from Hindupur Assembly constituency. He won again in 2019.
NTR’s sixth and seventh sons, Mohankrishna and Ramakrishna Junior, are film producers based out of Hyderabad. The eight son, Nandamuri Jayashankar Krishna, owns film companies and is a film producer.
Among his four daughters, Daggubati Purandeswari, 64, is quite active in politics. She started off with the Congress and joined the BJP in 2014. She was made the BJP’s Andhra Pradesh president in July. She is a two-time MP and has also served as Union Minister of State.
One of NTR’s daughters, Lokeswari, is a gynaecologist, while another, Nara Bhuvaneswari, is married to former Andhra CM Chandrababu Naidu. Last August, NTR’s youngest daughter K Uma Maheshwari died of alleged suicide.
The third generation of NTR’s family is also active in films now: Nandamuri Harikrishna’s son NTR Junior is a Tollywood actor, and the star of the mega hit RRR. Harikrishna’s other son, Kalyan Ram, too has acted in a few films. Balakrishna is believed to be preparing the ground for his son’s launch too. One of Harikrishna’s sons, Janakiram, died in a road accident in April 2016.
The ups and downs
A source close to the family said that all the siblings remain close to each other.
But this was not always the case. Their loyalty to NTR was tested following his decision to marry his biographer Lakshmi Parvathi in 1993. This was eight years after NTR’s first wife passed away due to cancer.
With NTR largely retired from active life after 1994, it was the fear that he would pass on the TDP reins to Parvathi, 35 years younger to him, that provoked the coup by Naidu in August-September 1995.
Isolated and humiliated by members of the party he founded, a heart-broken NTR died just four months later on January 18, 1996.
Naidu was sworn in as CM on September 1, 1995. While till then known only for his NTR links, he made a name as a tech-savvy leader who brought in top information technology companies to Hyderabad.
Parvathi went on to found the NTR TDP in 1995 and won a by-election won from Pathapatnam Assembly constituency in Andhra. She contested again in 1999 Assembly elections, but lost, and her party did not win even a single seat. She later joined the Congress and then shifted to the YSR Congress Party founded by Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy.
She is not active in politics any more, but CM Jagan has appointed her as the AP Telugu and Sanskrit Academy chairperson.
The absentees from the Monday photo
Three of the actor’s four daughters were in attendance — Purandeswari, Bhuvaneshwari, and Lokeswari.
Balakrishna, Ramakrishna, and Mohanakrishna were also present along with son-in-laws Naidu and former minister Daggubati Venkateswar Rao (married to Purandeswari).
The notable misses included Junior NTR, who had triggered much buzz about his entry into politics after his meeting with Union Home Minister Amit Shah. Lakshmi Parvathi, who is estranged with the larger family, was not invited to the event. She is said to have complained to both the President and Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman about it, arguing that she had every right to attend the function.
Purandeswari and Naidu, who have been avoiding each other for a while now — she joined the Congress after Naidu’s rebellion — had a brief meeting Monday in the presence of TDP RS MP K Ravindra Kumar, YSRCP MP K Raghurama Raju, and Purandeswari’s husband Daggubati Venkateswar Rao.
This meeting comes amidst the TDP trying to get back into the NDA fold even as the BJP seems to be more keen on the ruling YSR Congress.
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