'RRR' star Ram Charan has said it was Tollywood hero-turned-Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister, N.T. Rama Rao, who put Telugu on the world map and that he will live for as long as there is Telugu cinema. He was speaking at an event organised on Saturday night in the run-up to NTR's birth centenary, which falls on May 28. Ironically, Ram Charan's father, Mega Star Chiranjeevi, used to be a political opponent of NTR, but clearly, much water has flown down the Godavari since then. His co-star in S.S. Rajamouli's 'RRR', Junior NTR, incidentally is the Andhra icon's grandson.
"Nowadays, Telugu cinema is being greatly lauded in foreign countries and everyone is praising South Indian cinema," Ram Charan said. "But, long back in those days, NTR Garu proved and reiterated the power of our cinema. We should never forget about those days. We must keep remembering those great achievements," added the 'Global Star'.
He was speaking at the centenary celebrations organised at the Kaithalapur Grounds, Kukatpally, Hyderabad. Several film and political celebrities graced the event. On this occasion, Ram Charan recalled his personal bonding with NTR Garu. "I don't know where to start," Ram Charan continued. "His name is beyond all benchmarks and achievements. Nandamuri Taraka Rama Rao Garu was a big personality."
Talking about mass leaders such as NTR, he said reverentially: "We should remember their achievements and draw inspiration from their way of living. Walking in their footsteps gives us immense pride and happiness.
"Every artiste, including me, who goes to the film set every day remembers his name. He made us known. What is the film industry? What is the Telugu film industry? To our neighboring states as well as the entire country and other countries too? The Great Legend N.T. Rama Rao Garu brought respect to our film industry. This industry has such a great personality. It is a privilege for all of us to work in the industry where NTR Garu belonged."
On a personal note, Ram Charan recalled: "I met NTR Garu only once. Purandhareswari gari's son Ritesh and I used to go to skating classes together as kids. We used to finish our classes by early morning, 5:30 to 6:00 a.m. One day, Ritesh asked me to come along with him to his grandfather's house. He was the chief minister at that time. He had huge security. I felt that I didn't even have the strength to say 'yes' or 'no'. I said 'okay'. We both went on our skates from Purandhareswari Gari's house and arrived at Rama Rao Garu's house by 6:30 a.m.
"I wanted to meet NTR Garu and take leave from him. But when we reached his house, he was about to have his breakfast. When he saw me, he made me sit and offered tiffin. I felt so lucky. I will always cherish that moment of sharing breakfast with him. I thank Purandhareswari Garu for giving me that opportunity."
(With IANS inputs)