NTR birth centenary tribute: The legend had a great life and a sad death

On his 100th birth anniversary, NTR, the legend, lives on. And all those who had ditched him are still beholden and indebted to him, with the luminance of the halo around his persona in absentia

NTR birth centenary tribute: The legend had a great life and a sad death

HYDERABAD: The legend turned 100 posthumously - after celebrating life for 73 years enduring pain and pleasure, failure and success, and agony and ecstasy. Overcoming undulations, the most successful superstar of the filmy firmament and the champion of the political arena had died as a failed man and a sad man too. He had not excused anyone who he had dubbed as sinners.

He had not granted any pardon nor had he ordained his forgiveness on them.

He cursed them with the proverbial bell, book and candle.

The Colossus crumbled consequent upon humiliation and backstabbing by his own trusted people, more so family members. That’s in a nutshell the story of the titanic N T Rama Rao who regaled his audience with stellar performance on screen and endeared his electors with unflinchingly committed service.

And on his 100th birth anniversary, the legend lives on. And all those who had ditched him are still beholden and indebted to him, with the luminance of the halo around his persona in absentia. It’s these people who had declared him a ‘persona non grata’ and then surrounded his spectre, worshipping it as the Holy Spirit.

No biography of the legendary personality — there are many to count, though — could explain boldly the injustice meted out to him in his last days.

The newspapers that espoused the treacherous act of tormenting the patriarch of the Telugu Desam have been shedding crocodile tears in the last 27 years that just those droplets would have by now made up equivalent to the magnitude of an ocean.

In fact, ill-luck haunted him in his last days so much that he couldn’t in the wildest of his dreams imagine a tragic end to his career.

In his bid to infuse new life into his moribund political career, NTR had grandiose plans to blow the conch and take on his son-in-law N Chandrababu Naidu who had usurped power and party from him. But even before the game of thrones began, the patriarch of the Telugu Desam sank into the annals of history.

He had cried hoarse, said Naidu was a backstabber; and also had said the history wouldn’t forget the sordid episode.

But soon after his death, Naidu’s coterie deified NTR and began reaping benefits of his aura claiming his political legacy.

But for the video-graphic evidence, nobody could have encountered the rhetoric manufactured by the Chandrababu Naidu-led TDP. At one stage, the Naidu camp began giving an impression that the founder president transferred the power to Naidu at his own will.

The harbinger of anti-Congress politics would have turned in his grave with his son-in-law’s hobnobbing with the Congress with whose support the United Front Government was installed.

Naidu, who had told none other than me in an exclusive interview to Deccan Chronicle on the next day of being sworn in that his party did not need NTR, suddenly swallowed his own words and began singing paeans to the “departed soul”.

In fact, the Party machinery moved swiftly initially to wipe out the image of NTR by dumping the posters carrying his pictures in lumber. The picture of NTR “disappeared” from the party membership receipt books all of a sudden, much to the chagrin of NTR’s impudent son N Harikrishna. He had joined the bandwagon of Chandrababu Naidu that lent the necessary credence and legitimacy to the palace coup through which they had dethroned NTR.

Though the TDP intricately and clandestinely began to camouflage NTR’s umbra-like shadow on the party, popular upsurge against it became more palpable at election meetings of Naidu, especially in 1998 Lok Sabha polls. Much against his own wishes, he had to yield ground to the compulsion mounted by people, especially in coastal Andhra and Telangana regions. But, Chandrababu Naidu found this “popular demand” as a solid cover to bury his compunction.

Soon the silver screen god had become the presiding deity of the TDP led by Naidu.

The tributes paid by those who were singularly and severally responsible for the fall and eventual death due to depression seem very surprising, if not awful.

Nandamuri Taraka Rama Rao had created history. He had his immense contributions that have long been remembered by people he had served at large and individually.

And, he would long be remembered even in future.

As Dr Ambedkar had famously said: “Life should be great rather than long.” And NTR had a great life and a sad death.

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