Telugu actor Rajendra Prasad has been accorded with the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey. A felicitation ceremony was held in Hyderabad on Saturday. Senior artist Kadambari Kiran hosted the event, which was graced by Relangi Narasimha Rao, Anil Ravipudi, Satish Vegesna, Nag Ashwin, Nandini Reddy and others.
Director Nandini Reddy said, "Rajendra Prasad garu is my childhood friend. Wondering how? He has always been like a friend in my life, as watching his films destresses me and makes me happy. When he talks to others, he observes everybody's face so as to ascertain their expressions. I never imagined that I will meet him in my life."
Director Anil Ravipudi said, "If I am able to make entertaining movies, it's because I grew up watching his movies, learning from them. People call him 'Nata Kireeti'. I think he should be called 'Nava Kireeti', as he is capable of all 'rasas'. 'Maayalodu', 'Appula Appararao', 'Aa Okkati Adakku', 'Aa Naluguru' are just a few examples. He gave memorable performances in a number of movies. He is the most fast-forward artist ever. He will remain updated even after 50 years. He can teach upcoming artists a lot."
Senior director Relangi Narasimha Rao said, "I think I should call Rajendra Prasad garu my better-half. People inquire husband or wife about their spouse. Likewise, wherever I go, people inquire me about Prasad garu! We have done close to 30 movies together. It's a matter of huge pride that our actor has been honoured by the government in a country like the US. It's as big as the President of India standing up while giving the National Award to a Telugu film personality. I have watched 'Mahanati' and I can speak about his performance for one hour. Would any other hero have done the miser's role in 'Edurinti Mogudu Pakkinti Pellam'? In all his 235 movies or so, he has played a multitude of characters. I am very happy that the Senate has given Prasad garu Lifetime Achievement Award. I am very proud."
Director Nag Ashwin said, "When I wrote the 'Mahanati' script, I saw nobody else other than Rajendra Prasad garu who can play the Pedananna's character. Nobody knows what a huge support he was to Keerthy Suresh and the rest of us during the making of 'Mahanati'.
Director Satish Vegesna said, "I regard Rajendra Prasad garu as my Guru. Although I never learned anything from him directly, if I am a writer and a director today, it's because of 'Ladies Tailor'. In my college days, I learned the film's dialogues by heart and would narrate the film to my friends. That's how I slowly became a writer of comedies. I am lucky to be directing him for 'Srinivasa Kalyanam'. As long as Telugu cinema is there, we will smile watching his comedy."
Rajendra Prasad said, "Call it God's blessing or the fortune of my parents, I have received this honour. I am very sensitive by nature. And today, after listening to the speeches of the guests today, I am so moved that it's okay even if I die! In the last 40 years, so many have encouraged and stood with me. NTR garu was like a guru. I had no Godfather in the industry. At that time, it's the media that motivated me with its support. Today's artists hide their emotions. But I have always expressed what I feel. I salute all the directors, right from Relangi Narasimha Rao garu to today's directors like Satish Vegesna and Nag Ashwin for bearing with me. I am glad that these directors and writers are penning roles for me even in the generation of Mahesh Babu, Ram Charan, Jr. NTR and Bunny. It's an achievement for me. The success of 'Mahanati' also proves it," the 'Nata Kireeti' said.
"It feels as if I have restarted my career today! This honour from the Senate and General Assembly of New Jersey has been given to me for a reason. Someone was asking me as to what prompted them to give this man this award. The politicians in the US went to campaign door-to-door during elections there. And in the state of New Jersey, there are a maximum number of Telugus. When the campaigners tried to assess their likes and dislikes, they came to know that Indians are fond of two things: cricket and cinema. And the Telugus told them that, whenever they are homesick, they watch my movies for relaxation. PV Narasimha Rao garu too said that he would watch my movies because I am like a stress-buster. Note that he didn't say he would watch me only because of comedy. You are relieved even if you cry your heart out," he added.
"Upon making several inquiries about me, the concerned legislative bodies decided to honour me because they felt that I am a responsible actor, responsible towards society. It's like both MLAs and MPs giving you an honour. It has been 40 years since I started out to act. Normally speaking, I should have been made to retire by now. But since directors are giving me roles, I am acting as I have no recourse. If I am still acting, it's because of directors. If you want to be in the race, you have to keep running every day. I continue to observe people as an actor. I was down with high fever during the making of a film. My director bolted me inside a room and went away, asking me to take rest. I found a way out and appeared on the sets. I told him that, for me, fever goes away when I work. My films are a must in every home. They are like a must-there object," he concluded.