Media Mogul Ramoji Rao Passes Away at 87

In the early hours of Saturday, the media industry lost a titan as Cherukuri Ramoji Rao, the esteemed founder of Eenadu and Ramoji Film City, passed away at the age of 87. Rao breathed his last at 3:45 am while undergoing treatment at Star Hospital in Hyderabad. His passing marks the end of an era in Indian media and entertainment.

Ramoji Rao was a visionary entrepreneur whose diverse ventures spanned across multiple industries. He headed the Ramoji Group, which included the world-renowned Ramoji Film City, Eenadu newspaper, ETV Network, and Usha Kiran Movies. His business empire also encompassed Margadarsi Chit Fund, the Dolphin Group of hotels, Kalanjali shopping mall, Priya pickles, and Mayuri Film Distributors.

Rao’s legacy is perhaps most vividly embodied in the Ramoji Film City, recognized by the Guinness World Records as the largest film production facility globally. This iconic film city on the outskirts of Hyderabad has been the backdrop for thousands of films, including SS Rajamouli’s acclaimed ‘Bahubali’ series. Rao’s innovative approach to filmmaking, often focusing on social themes and budget efficiency, earned him widespread acclaim.

The Eenadu newspaper, established by Rao in 1974 in Visakhapatnam, revolutionized the newspaper industry in undivided Andhra Pradesh. It became the most widely circulated Telugu daily, known for its punctual delivery, reaching readers before sunrise. Under Rao’s leadership, Eenadu played a pivotal role in various socio-political movements, including the campaign to restore democracy when TDP founder N T Rama Rao was dislodged from power in 1984.

ETV, another jewel in Rao’s crown, emerged as a pioneering satellite entertainment channel in Telugu, breaking Doordarshan’s monopoly. It quickly became a household name, expanding its network to include news and entertainment channels in several Indian languages. The music show ‘Padutha Teeyaga,’ anchored by the late S P Balasubrahmanyam on ETV, introduced thousands of budding singers to the world.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed his grief on X, describing Rao as a visionary who revolutionized Indian media. “His rich contributions have left an indelible mark on journalism and the world of films,” Modi said, highlighting Rao’s role in setting new standards for innovation and excellence. President Droupadi Murmu also offered her condolences, noting Rao’s deep societal roots and his lasting contributions to the media and entertainment sectors.

The Telangana government has decided to perform Rao’s last rites with state honors. Chief Minister Revanth Reddy issued orders for the arrangements, underscoring Rao’s significance to the region and the nation.

Ramoji Rao’s journey was marked by resilience and innovation. Born on November 16, 1936, he overcame numerous challenges to build an empire that left an indelible mark on India’s media landscape. In 2016, he was honored with the Padma Vibhushan, India’s second-highest civilian award, for his contributions to journalism, literature, and education.

As preparations are underway to transport Rao’s mortal remains to his residence in Ramoji Film City, family, friends, and well-wishers are gathering to pay their final respects. Rao’s legacy will continue to inspire future generations in the media and entertainment industries.

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