GK Mangaraju aka Poorna Manga Raju

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The art of cinema is such that it does not end with the production of a film. It needs to be showcased in various theaters and places to get its recognition and recover the costs. There are numerous personalities involved in the art of getting the finished cinema to the theaters. These individuals seldom get any recognition except in their own localities, but the contribution they make to the cause of cinema is immense as they complete the most important aspect of cinema, i.e, exhibiting it. There are few individuals who have contributed in their own way and became inspirations for the present day status of exhibitors and distributors. One such figure was G K Manga Raju, aka Poorna Manga Raju.
G K Manga Raju was better known as “Poorna” Manga Raju. He used to run a train service, “Poorna Express” for the benefit of pilgrims to complete their pilgrimage. Hence, he got his surname as “Poorna”.
He was born on 11-12-1896 in Vishakapatnam. His family, at that time was in the business of procuring and selling of rice. And he had to tour countries like Burma and others for the business deals. He did not have much formal education but learnt the languages of English and Telugu.
Manga Raju met with P. Pullaiah, who used to run a touring theatre in the year 1927 and from then onwards got interested in the film industry. With the encouragement given by P. Pullaiah, he became an exhibitor and constructed his own theatre and was the first exhibitor to install the “Talkie Equipment” in his theatre. He believed that along with the construction of theatre, there was a need for the making of Telugu movies in the Telugu heartland. Due to his efforts the first Telugu talkie film, “Bhaktha Prahlada”, was produced by Ardeshir M Irani.
Later on he went to Calcutta and convinced the management of East India Film Company to produce “Sati Savitri” in 1933. Again he went to Pune and met the Head of Saraswathi Cine Tone, Dada Bhai Dhorne, and produced “Dasavatharalu” under the banner of “Quality Pictures” in the year 1937.
At around the same time he started the first distribution company of Andhra, “Quality Pictures”. Through that company, he distributed “Sati Ahalya”, “Chintamani” and other movies. In 1937, the head office of Quality Pictures was moved to Vijayawada from Vizag.
In 1940, Manga Raju started his own Distribution Company, “Poorna Pictures” in Vijayawada and spread its branches to Secunderabad, Guntakal, Madras and Vishakapatnam. Poorna Pictures distributed more than 200 movies in various languages like Tamil, Telugu and Hindi.
He started his career as exhibitor by “Light House” theatre and later on built theatres at Vishakapatnam, Parvatipuram, Vijaya Nagaram, Chodavaram and other places. His Poorna Theatre deserves a special place in the history of Telugu Cinema as it serves as a bridge between the era gone by and the present era. The theatre has been constantly remodeled to suit the tastes and aspirations of the audience. Balcony was introduced to Vizag in this theatre in the year 1949 for the movie “Laila Majnu”. The theatre was modified to enable the screening of Scope movies in the year 1955. The Poorna Theatre has a history of 70 years.
G K Manga Raju deceased on 23rd March 1964. After his demise his sons took over his business and his legacy is continued even today by his grandsons.

Krishna Chaitanya.
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About krshychait

A working individual who has a great passion towards arts of India. The literary and cinema field have captured my imagination like no other.

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