Everybody attains speed by gradually changing the gears of a vehicle..
But veteran actor Nagabhushanam is different in his own style! No matter whatever role he takes up, he immediately launches to the highest fifth gear in a flash! Like a bike which never bothers about the speed breaker and moves with racing speed, his style comprises of moving instantaneously at highest speed and take turns and leaps in between. His dialogue delivery moves with amazing pace and suddenly he gives a break. When the audience wait with bated breath, he gives the needed thrill and surprise in the way a line is delivered. It is needless to say this peculiar art belongs to Nagabhushanam alone. This particular style happens to be an advantage as well as shortcoming for the brilliant actor.
Though he is most famous for the roles which had a queer combination of comedy as well as cruelty, Nagabhushanam adorned a plethora of fantastic roles during his career. But Telugu Audience received him best as the actor with negative shades. More than his good natured roles, audience applauded and appreciated his aggression and roles festooned with negative touch.
While working as a Railway Employee, Nagabhushanam performed in various stage plays and directed them as well. His unique performance earned him awards and accolades was regarded as one of the very good stage actors of that era. Such appreciation earned him a different image, and it was that image which drew him towards Film Industry. However, it was not a red carpet welcome for him in film acting career. The Film Industry tested him in every way possible. It is surprising to see that even for a great stage actor like Nagabhushanam, it was difficult to make a mark in Telugu Cinema. He got chance to act in popular films like “Palletooru”, “Ardhangi”, “Rechukka” and so on. Though the characters he played in these films were significantly small, his so called spark was identified by the distinguished few people. One such organization gave Nagabhushanam a lead role in the movie “Edhi Nijam” (1956). Renowned Veena player S. Balachander directed this film. Though the film was appreciated by the Government and critics, it was not a commercial success.
The versatile actor in Nagabhushanam was in vain , on such events and yet was hopeful about getting his own time to prove himself. This time the opportunity arrived from a different doorstep in the form of Tamil Film Industry. M.R. Radha (Father of famous actress Radhika) acted in a Tamil movie which was dubbed into Telugu was “Raktha Kanneeru”. Nagabhushanam dubbed for M.R.Radha’s role in this film. Nagabhushanam’s timely dubbing aligned with the body language , style of M.R. Radha which instantly clicked in Telugu Cinema. Incidentally, that film was based on a Tamil stage play. It was translated to Telugu by Palagummi Padmaraju and Nagabhushanam gave a different dimension to the role with exceptional dialogue delivery, interesting body language which had him move his neck over the top! This stage play started off with few performances, increased to hundreds and then broke thousands of records those days!
It was when “Manchi Manasulu” was released. A.M. Radha acted in the Tamil original, and when it was remade in Telugu, his role automatically came to Nagabhushanam. That role was a tremendous success and from then, Nagabhushanam never looked back. Irrespective of the Hero, any role with Comedy and Negative shades immediately came to Nagabhushanam. Despite his tight schedule as a Film Actor, his trump card role from “Raktha Kanneeru” drama never left him. Nagabhushanam earned tremendous appreciation for films like “Mooga Manasulu”, “Ummadi Kutumbam”,”Kadhanayakudu”,”Atmeeyulu”, “Vichitra Kutumbam”,”Mosagallaku Mosagadu”, “Adavi Ramudu”, “Andala Ramudu”, “Andaru Dongale”, “Viyyalavari Kayyalu” and hundreds of more such classics. He became specialized in delivering Political Satires with ease. Especially his combination with Allu Ramalingaiah was like an unstoppable storm. For nearly two decades, Nagabhushanam emerged as the best character artists Telugu Cinema ever witnessed, and even made Telugu Film Industry heavily dependent on his acting skills. He even established his own drama troupe and also produced films such as “Natakala Rayudu”, “Oke Kutumbam” and “Prajanayakudu”.
Until the advent of veteran actor Rao Gopal Rao who had similar tinge of Comedy along with negative shades, Nagabhushanam was an undisputed choice for such roles and remains to be an unforgettable actor for Telugu Film audience.
He is one such actor Telugu Cinema can be always proud of!
Though he is not physically present among us, Nagabhushanam’s peculiar one liners, unique mannerisms will remain intact as long as Telugu Cinema is present..