Thirty movies in 15 years with about 90 per cent success rate! That's just one part of the story. The producer/distributor, whose debut film title became his surname, has won several awards, including the Best Popular Film Providing Wholesome Entertainment-Golden Lotus Award at the 64th National Film Awards in 2017 for his contribution to popular cinema for 'Shatamanam Bhavati' "in appreciation of providing a feeling of jubilation by respecting family values in an unexplored manner".
The same year he received Nandi Award presented by the Andhra Pradesh state government and the prestigious Nagi Reddi-Chakrapani Award for the film, which deals with the problems faced by old age parents whose children are mostly settled abroad, visiting them once in a few years.
Winning awards has become a habit for 'Dil' Raju. And this time he has won the prestigious B Nagi Reddi Memorial Award for 2017 for 'Fidaa' produced under his Sri Venkateswara Creations.
Receiving the award from the Indian film legend's daughter-in-law Bharati Reddi, Dil Raju recounted what he earlier when he received Nagi Reddi award in 2012 for his film Mr Perfect at a function graced by the late Akkineni Nageswara Rao: "I then said 'it's not just an award, this bestows a responsibility upon me'."
He said he was pleased to receive yet another award instituted by Vijaya Productions in memory of the great film producer for Fidaa in Dubai, which has a sizeable Telugu diaspora. The film was critically acclaimed. 'Fidaa' is a Telugu romantic entertainer starring Varun Tej and Sai Pallavi in lead roles; and directed by Sekhar Kammula. Pallavi essayed the role of a village girl and the story is set against the milieu of Telangana and the US.
Thanking Vijaya Productions for the award, he said this honour only 'increases my responsibility to make more meaningful films'.
Varun Tej and Sai Pallavi in ‘Fidaa’.
Speaking at the award ceremony presented by Wave Resonance at Indian Consulate auditorium on Friday, Raju said Vijaya Productions taught him how to balance cinema and family well. "Cinema is business, but I also believe in upholding values. For many it's not so. They see it as pure business -- they calculate how much money they invested and how much they got in return," he said of the present day film industry.
B Nagi Reddy.
Raju, who claims just two of the six films that he produced last year tasted success, further says: "We should make good, meaningful and socially relevant movies. Those values I have learnt from the great film personality B Nagi Reddi. If we make a good film, audience will definitely receive it well," he said.
Raju, who says he has displayed the National Award in his office, holds Nagi Reddi Award a bigger honour. "To receive that award I would travel any distance and that's the reason I have come to Dubai," he said with a sense of pride.
Prakash Raj in ‘Dil’ (2003).
Bharati Reddi, who is the CEO of Vijaya Hospitals instituted by her father-in-law, said initially they planned to hold the Nagi Reddi Cenetenary Memorial Award ceremony in London, but the venue was moved to Dubai as "it is the best place and is one of the modern marvels of the world".
She said 2018 has been memorable year for their group. "We had a commemorative stamp released by India's Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu in honour of my father-in-law [B Nagi Reddi] and also a biography 'B Nagireddi, The Legend'," she said amid applause from the audience.
Speaking about the legend, Ms Reddi said: Cinema is a language of dreams produced by dream merchants. my father-in-law was one such dream merchants of India. He produced movies under the Vijaya Productions banner. He was also the manager of Vijaya Vauhini Studios which was regarded as one of the largest studios in South East Asia at that point of time.
Talking about the successful path taken by Nagi Reddi, Ms Bharti said: "With the advent of talkies, the main source of inspiration for Indian Cinema was mythological texts. In this context Nagi Reddi produced several mythological classics such as Pataala Bhairavi and Maya Bazaar. He also made meaningful movies that included Missamma and Gundamma Katha. Songs from these movies are still popular.
"He also produced several Hindi films like Swarg Narak, Julie and Ram Aur Shyam in 1967 starring Dilip Kumar in a dual role, which was one of the biggest hits."
She said the concept for all his films was rooted in the children's publication called 'Chandamama', which was started by Nagi Reddi and Chakrapani, whom he considered his 'friend, philosopher and guide'. The magazine drew heavily from mythological content, but the stories conveyed socially relevant messages. Chandama was published in 17 languages and also four Braille editions in four languages, she said.
For his exemplary contribution to Indian cinema in Telugu, Tamil, Kannada and Hindi, Nagi Reddi was honoured with Dadasaheb Phalke Award in 1986, the highest award in Indian Cinema and the Raghupathi Venkaiah Award by the Andhra Pradesh Government in 1987. He also won the Kalaimamani Award by the Government of Tamil Nadu in 1973.
Nagi Reddi's son B Venkatram Reddi and granddaughter Rajini, Wave Resonance president Geetha, Ramesh Babu Ravella, Adibhatla Sharma and Uma Paddy joined in honouring Dil Raju on the occasion.