Tollywood bids tearful adieu to its ‘Babai’, T Chalapati Rao

He became so popular in the father and uncle roles in Tollywood that he earned the sobriquet Babai (meaning "uncle" in Telugu).

ByDeepthi Nandan

Published Dec 25, 2022 | 7:41 PM Updated Dec 26, 2022 | 11:20 AM

T Chalapati Rao

Veteran Tollywood actor T Chalapati Rao passed away in Hyderabad on Sunday, 25 December, leaving his colleagues and movie lovers in grief.

The 78-year-old died of cardiac arrest in his actor-director son Ravi Babu’s residence early on Sunday morning.

Chalapati Rao hailed from Balliparru village near Pamarru in Krishna district in Andhra Pradesh.

Chalapati Rao is survived by a son and two daughters. His wife passed away long back.

His final rights will be held on Wednesday at Mahaprasthanam, Jubilee Hills.

He was born on 8 May, 1944, in an agricultural family. His interest towards acting drew him towards movies.

A successful career

In a career spanning five and a half decades, Chalapati Rao acted in about 300 movies and was considered one of the most popular actors from the early generation of the Telugu film industry.

He made his debut in movies with Goodachari 116, released in 1956.

He carved a niche for himself as the antagonist in the 1960s and 70s, and emerged as a successful actor.

He acted with leading stars of his generation, like NTR, ANR, Krishna, and Krishnam Raju, playing the villain.

However, in the later part of his career, he turned into a character artiste and even did some comedy, proving his versatility.

A change in roles

Ninne Pelladutha, released in 1996, totally changed his image from a dreaded villain to a loving father.

From then on, his career took an altogether different turn, making him one of the more sought-after character actors and comedy artistes.

Chalapati Rao was the first choice for the directors to play the father or uncle of the new crop of heroes who made their debut in the early 2000s.

Chalapati Rao acted with almost all the newer crop of popular actors, like Chiranjeevi, Nagarjuna, Balakrishna, NTR, Prabhas, Allari Naresh, Srikant, Jagapathi Babu, Tarun, and Nitin.

He became so popular in the father and uncle roles in Tollywood that he earned the sobriquet Babai (meaning “uncle” in Telugu).

His costars used to fondly refer to him as Babai even off the screen.