RNJ 6th Anniversary

RNJ_RNR_RJP

[3 generations: Me, my late grandfather R. Nagendra Rao, and my late father, R.N. Jayagopal (more pictures further below)]

 

Dearest Appa,

It has been 6 excruciatingly long years since you moved on.

I just wanted to tell you that I think about you every day, multiple times a day.

I watch the Oscars, I think about you.

I listen to a beautiful song (like when Veena just played me one on Youtube barely an hour ago), I think about you and how you would have enjoyed it. I even wonder if my expressions of enjoying something so beautiful are subconsciously mimicking you.

I watch a fantastic scene in a movie, and I think about you.

I read or listen to beautiful poetry or lyrics, I think about you.

You will always be in my heart, my beloved beloved father.

You never left, and you never will.

Hope you are having a great time with Amma, wherever you guys are.

– Ravi, your one and only son.

 

RNJ_SPB_Janaki
RNJ with two of the greatest singers in Indian films, S.P.Balasubrahmanyam and S.Janaki, who are getting ready to sing one of his legendary songs that he penned, taking notes and listening intently as he explains the situation, the emotions behind the song, the meaning behind the lyrics, so that they can do justice to the masterpiece that he created.

 

RNJ_RJP_GKV

Attending a song recording with my father, who is sitting next to one of the all-time greats and beloved music director G.K. Venkatesh

RNJ 5 Year Anniversary

It’s been 5 years since my father passed away (May 19th, 2008).

And I still haven’t found the guts to mourn his death.

I still pretend sometimes like he’s there back home in India, and that I just haven’t spoken to him in a long time. Maybe we’re not on talking terms or something.

Here’s a picture from one of the few movies he acted in, where he was the “Villain” (I am sure you wouldn’t have guessed otherwise ;-)

He never smoked anything of any kind his entire life. So it was funny when he first showed me this photo, where he has a smoking pipe in his mouth. He knew enough to huff-and-puff a few times when the yelled “Action”, but I’m pretty sure he washed his mouth 20 times after the scene was over :-)

RNK Prasad: An Indian Cinema Legend

My beloved “Doddappa” (uncle), Shri. R.N.Krishna Prasad (RNK) – one of the greatest cinematographers Indian cinema has ever known – passed away on February 15, 2012, at the age of 82.

RNK was the 2nd of four sons of Shri. R.Nagendra Rao (RNR – who himself was considered the doyen and “Pitamaha” of the Kannada Film Industry) and the older brother of my father, Shri. R.N.Jayagopal, the 3rd RNR son, who passed away in May 2008 (the first son, R.N. Gururaj Prasad, was the only one of the four RNR sons who had a career outside of movies).

My father, R.N.Jayagopal (RNJ) looked up to his father (RNR) so much, that he not only wanted to achieve at least some of my grandfather’s fame and glory, but he also used to jokingly say that he wanted to at least live for as long as my grandfather did. RNR died at the age of 80, and my father died at the age of 73, thus falling 7 years short of his dream. But I’m happy that at least my uncle lived it up on my father’s behalf.

RNK was considered an authority in cinematography, and even wrote a book about it, which is required reading today in several Indian universities. He was born in Bengaluru, and graduated with a Diploma in Cinematography from Jayachamarajendra Polytechnic.

My grandfather RNR gave my father and RNK their first start in movies, in “Premadha Puthri”. RNK was the cameraman, my father penned the dialogues, screenplay and lyrics, and my grandfather RNR directed and starred in it. However, it wasn’t until “Vijayanagarada Veeraputra” that the entire family – RNR and his three sons RNK, RNJ and RNS – worked together.

RNK also cast his magic behind the camera for classics such as Belli Moda, Mareyada Haadu and Bhale Adrushtavo Adrushta. He received the President’s National Award for “Best Direction” for the movie “Naguva Hoovu”, for which he was also the cinematographer, and had R.N. Sudarshan both producing the movie and acting in the lead role along with his wife, Shailashree Sudarshan.

He was also loved and recognized in Tamil Nadu for the role he played in of Mani Rathnam’s “Nayakan” (as one of the 3 villainous “Reddy Brothers” – my father and RNS played the other 2 brothers in the movie), and also for playing Kamal Hassan’s lunatic father in the comedy, “Michael Madhana Kama Rajan”.

After having survived two heart attacks in the last few years, he used to say that maybe God was keeping him around for a reason. And that reason turned out to be the “Life Time Achievement” award bestowed on him by the Government of Karnataka in 2008-2009, which probably gave him some closure on life.

Having lived a glorious life, an illustrious career, with a loving family full of grandchildren who loved their grandpa, and a doting wife Usha Prasad who took amazing care of him till the very end, he finally decided to move on from this mortal life. And I have a feeling that he’s having a good time in heaven with my late parents R.N.Jayagopal and Lalita Jayagopal :-)

Indian cinema has lost yet another ir-replaceable legend, and I have lost my dearest, most beloved Doddappa.

He was the closest connection I had to my own father, and as long as he was around, I always felt like my father was still around too. But RNK’s passing hurts me on so many levels, that words cannot express the pain I feel as I write this.

So I just wanted to tell him this: I love you, Doddappa, and will always miss you, and your beautiful smile, and you will always continue to inspire me with the your passion and perfectionism and deep desire to be among the best at whatever you did. See you some day – until then, say hello to my parents, tell them that I miss them 24 times a day, and have a great time wherever you all are.

Your beloved nephew,

– Ravi Jayagopal, joined by Veena, Rhea & Rohan

Apoorva Sahodarargal (Strange Brothers)

“Strange Brothers”, it was called, as was the custom in 1949, to give Indian movies an English Title as well.

The villain’s role was acted by one of the greatest legends of Indian Cinema, Padmashri R. Nagendra Rao – my venerable grandfather (father’s father).

In this picture below from the movie, he (the villain, on the right) locks swords with one of the “brothers” (hero, left).

And the beauty of this picture, is that the “hero”, Padmashri M.K. Radha, is actually the grandfather of one of my best childhood friends from India, Rajaa Murugan.

Murugan and I used to joke that our grandfathers fought with swords in the movie, maybe we should also try it sometime, fighting with each other :-)

NagendarRao&MKRadha_StrangeBrothers

Apporva Sagodarargal

Here’s a review of the movie from the NY Times:

Following up on S. S. Vasan’s 1948 mega-hit Chandralekha, this sequel was inspired by Douglas Fairbanks Jr.’s 1941 film The Corsican Brothers. The film opens with the dastardly Zoravar Singh vanquishing a rival kingdom and usurping its throne. A trusted servant spirits away the twin princes Vikram and Vijay who are heirs to the crown. Though raised separately, Vikram grows up in the city while Vijay lives his childhood in a forest, both become obsessed with avenging their father and both fall for the same beautiful lass (Bhanumathi). This film was produced in three different languages– Tamil, Telugu, and Hindi — with three different directors credited — T. G. Raghavachyran, C. Pullaiah and S. S. Vasan respectively. ~ Jonathan Crow, All Movie Guide (link)

Some of the movies my grandfather, R. Nagendra Rao, acted in / directed / produced, are:

  1. Hannele Chiguridaga  1968 (Patriarch)
  2. Attegondukala Sosegondukala  1968
  3. Veera Kesari  1963  (Dharma Nayaka)
  4. Ranadheera Kanteerava  1960  (Dalavayi Vikrama Raya)
  5. Raayara Sose (1958)
  6. Premada Putri (1957)
  7. Nagula Chaviti  1956
  8. Jatakaphalam  1953
  9. Jatakam  1953
  10. Mugguru Kodukulu  1952
  11. Apoorva Sahodaralu  1950
  12. Nishan  1949
  13. Apoorva Sahodarargal  1949  – Zoravar Singh
  14. Bhukailasa  1940

- Ravi Jayagopal
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