Grand Old Man of Telugu Cinema
He was hailed as the ‘grand old man of Telugu cinema’ by veteran actor Jaggaiah. T.V.S. Sastri’s tryst with cinema came in 1940 when he left native Machilipatnam to Bombay to produce a movie along with like-minded friends. They have signed K.S. Praskasa Rao, G. Varalakshmi and Kumari for the lead roles and Tapi Dharma Rao to pen the script. After recording a song, he had to shelve the project over differences with the director. Sastri stayed back in Bombay and joined popular Hindi actor, director-producer, Mazar Khan’s film company and soon became the company’s General Manager.
In 1947, he came to Madras at the invitation of K.S. Prakasa Rao to help him in his maiden production, ‘Drohi.’ The next year he joined Ghantasala Balaramaiah’s Pratibha Productions and ever since the banner’s name stuck to him as ‘Pratibha’ Sastri. It is here he met legendary actor Akkineni Nageswara Rao and their friendship lasted a lifetime.
Pratibha Sastri worked as an associate producer for several pictures produced by Venus Pictures and Ashok Movies and for Sarathi Studios ‘Athmeeyulu’ and Vijaya Productions, ‘Sri Raja Rajeswari Coffee Club,’ besides working for Hindi movies including ‘Jyoti Bane Jwala’ and ‘Prem Tapasya’ directed by Dasari Narayana Rao.
T.V.S. Sastri’s outstanding contribution for Telugu cinema, however, was the all-time musical hit, ‘Jayabheri’ (1959) which he had co-produced with Vasireddy Narayana Rao.
Popular Kannada producer of the time, ‘Vikram’ Srinivasan once said that by observing T.V.S. Sastri not only he but a generation of production controllers had learned the nuances of film production. “With his work, he laid out an unwritten syllabus for the first generation production controllers. He was our margadarshi, our guide,” he said. Sastri took part in every aspect of film production from the script stage to music settings and to the final output. Veteran singer P.B. Srinivas hailed him as, ‘adviteeya pratibha Sastri.’
T.V.S. Sastri’s birth centenary falls on June 8, 2019.