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Leading film personalities, politicians and fans besides family members, relatives and friends bid a tearful adieu to Rao, who breathed his last on Tuesday in a private hospital after prolonged illness. He was 75. The last rites were performed at Rao's farm house at Moinabad, about 60 km from Hyderabad. Rao's eldest son Harihara Prabhu lit the funeral pyre as a police contingent presented gun salute. The funeral was performed adjacent to the 'samadhi' of Rao's wife.
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Rao, who holds Limca World Record for directing the most films and directed generations of film stars -- from thespian N.T. Rama Rao to Nagarjuna, died at a private hospital here on Tuesday following prolonged illness. He was 75. Earlier, he was shifted from his Jubliee Hills residence to the office of the Film Chamber to enable people to pay their last respects. Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu visited Film Chamber office and described Rao's demise as a great loss to Telugu film industry.
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"Telugu film industry has lost a pillar. He was institution in himself," said Naidu. He recalled that from a modest background, Rao become director, writer, actor and later politician and worked hard for the welfare of weaker sections. Celebrities like Pawan Kalyan, Junior NTR, Daggubati Venkatesh, Allu Arjun, Narayana Murthy, Naga Babu, Vijayachander, Raghvendra Rao, Dil Raju, Mohan Babu, Krishna, Nassar and filmmaker Trivikram paid their last respects.
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Actor Mohan Babu, whose career was launched by Rao, broke down. "He was like a father to me. My entire family forever is indebted to him," Babu said. Actress-filmmaker Vijaya Nirmala said she was "shaken" and that he always treated her like a sister. Having directed 151 films in Telugu, Tamil and Hindi, Rao produced 53 films and worked in more than 250 as a dialogue writer and lyricist.
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Some of his famous films include "Premabhishekam", "Megha Sandesham", "Osey Ramulamma" and "Tata Manavadu". He planned to make a biopic on late Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa. A multi-faceted personality, he served as Union Minister of State for Coal in United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government. It was during his tenure that the scandal over coal blocks allocation rocked the nation.