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There are some who follow a trend while there are those very few who are the trendsetters. But more often than not, these trendsetters are forgotten in the bylanes of history and one such name is Kasturi Siva Rao who is regarded as the first star comedian of the Telugu film industry. In fact it was his stardom and act which forced the producers to go on and have separate comedians for lighter moments in the movie.
Kasturi Siva Rao started his career in Film industry as a Voice over artist for the silent films being produced at that time and also was a projector operator. He had a peculiar look and his appearance itself brought humor and with his appearance as an asset, he became an actor with the film “Vara Vikrayam” in 1939 and shot into the limelight with “Chudamani” in 1941. But B N Reddy’s “Swarga Seema” in 1945 and “Bala Raju” in 1948 catapulted him to stardom. There were numerous fans for Siva Rao and it is said that he was mobbed whenever he appeared in public. He was revered more than a hero.
He became a hero with the film “Guna Sundari Katha” in 1949 in which he played the role of a cursed Prince. The movie became a huge hit and the mannerisms and dialogues of his were so popular that people started conversing in the same tone of his. He used to own a “Buick” car which was of rare possession and whenever people saw the car on roads they used to swarm the car and run along with it.
Kasturi Siva Rao later on turned a Producer and Director with the film “Paramanandaiah Sishyulu” in the year 1950. The movie though tickled the audience did not achieve box-office success. During the same year he was criticized for using explicit words in a film called “ Sri Lakshmamma Katha” and some critics say this trend later on got popular which was an unhealthy trend in the movies.
Kasturi Siva Rao’s charm started to wane on the masses and also there was stiff competition from other comedians like Relangi who became more popular. He returned to perform in the Theatre but could not recover financially. He had sell off his car and had to pedal around Pondy Bazaar in Madras in a bicycle.
His last days resembled the irony of the life of an actor. He went to Tenali for a stage play and unfortunately met with his death. His dead body remained in the boot of the car coming back to Madras for three days which brought tears to many who stood testimony to his stardom.
Kasturi Siva Rao always used to say “Any comedian will have Star Value only for some time, during this period he will be treated as a King. In the same way as heroines will be glamorous when they are young, comedians also will have little glamour. This applies to all languages of Films”.
Whatever might be the fate but Kasturi Siva Rao and his brand of comedy still lives on and continues to please the generations.