Address by Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu, Honourable Vice President of India at the release of the Commemorative Stamp and a Book on Shri B. Nagi Reddy, in Chennai on February 23, 2018.

Chennai | February 23, 2018

"I am pleased to be here to release the commemorative stamp and a book on Shri B. Nagi Reddy, who was a multifaceted personality - an eminent publisher, successful film producer, philanthropist and a great humanist.

Nagi Reddy’s elder brother was instrumental in getting him involved in the film industry. Taking over the management of Vauhini Studios from him in 1948, he developed it as the largest studio in South East Asia in less than 10 years. The Telugu film ‘Shavukaru’ was the first film produced by him under the banner of Vijaya Productions. The story for this first film was provided by Shri Chakrapani, who became his friend, philosopher and guide in later years. This exemplary collaboration heralded the golden era in the world of Telugu, Tamil, Kannada and Hindi cinema.

Starting his career as a letter press printer in 1944, he chose to join hands with Shri Chakrapani and extended his activity into publishing a socio-political monthly, 'Andhra Jyothi' in Telugu in 1945. He later established one of India’s largest offset printing presses, Prasad Process.

One of his most successful projects was the launch of the children’s magazine ‘Chandamama’ in 1947. Conceptualized by Shri Nagi Reddy and his friend Chakrapani, the monthly magazine became a household name. Besides English and Sinhalese, it was published in 14 Indian languages - Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada, Sanskrit, Hindi, Marathi, Bengali, Odia, Assamese, Gujarati, Gurumukhi (Punjabi), Sindhia and Santhali (a tribal language).

The fact that Chandmama also had a Braille edition in four languages for the visually impaired showed the humanist in him.

His vision and desire to provide quality medical service at affordable costs to the society led to the establishment of Vijaya Hospital in 1972, one of the first multispecialty hospitals in Chennai. Starting with a bed-strength of 46, today the Vijaya Group of Hospitals is one of the largest healthcare providers in South India. Shri Reddy took it as a mission to provide healthcare to needy people.

India’s most prestigious film award, Dada Saheb Phalke Award was conferred upon him. He was also a recipient of Andhra Pradesh Government’s Raghupathi Venkaiah award. He also held different positions, including the President of South Indian Film Chamber of Commerce for three terms and Chairman, Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams Board.

Friends, India today produces hundreds of films in different languages with the maximum number coming from Bollywood, followed by films in other languages, including Telugu and Tamil. For the past many years, films have been the main form of entertainment for the masses. In fact, films became a part of our popular culture.

However, what matters is quality and not numbers. As you all are aware, cinema is a powerful medium of communication. In the present times of growing violence, intolerance and crime, film makers have a huge responsibility to make message-oriented films. No doubt, films have to be entertaining as well. But violence and obscenity cannot be promoted disproportionately in the name of entertainment, especially when films have a major impact on the masses.

Are films holding a mirror to the happenings in the society? This important question has to be pondered over by all people, particularly those from the film industry. It is a complete fallacy to think that clean and purely entertaining films cannot be made without depicting violence, crime and obscenity.

In the past, a family was able to watch a film in a movie hall. The situation is no longer the same and one can probably count on fingertips the number of films suitable for family viewing. I am raising these issues because of the impact cinema has on the masses. There have also been instances where movies have inspired people to commit crimes.

Banners like Vijaya Vauhini had earned a reputation for the good films they had produced in the past. Some of the well-known films like Maya Bazar, Missamma and Gundamma Katha were wholesome entertainments. At the same time, those films also had memorable performances by the actors. Even today, people enjoy watching Maya Bazar and other old movies. The films of those days made their voice to be heard by conveying socially relevant messages unlike the contemporary cinema which has more noise.

I feel film makers should make conscious efforts to raise their voice against evils like corruption, casteism, alcoholism, drug addiction, atrocities on women, gender-based discrimination, feudalism and dangers of religious or ideological extremism. Films should become instruments of change and promote social cohesion, communal harmony, national integration and patriotism without diminishing their popular appeal.

Thank you, Jai Hind!"