Pasupuleti Purnachandra Rao

Pasupuleti Purnachandra Rao

Born in 1948, in Khammam, Telengana state and settled in Hyderabad. After completing Degree, turned to be a theatre activist as a full timer but keeping one leg in the Film Society Movement. Did Film Appreciation Course in FTII, Pune in 1978. Wrote many critical and analytical articles on Indian and Foreign cinema; finally culminating into planning to write ‘THE HISTORY OF WORLD CINEMA’, of which the first part is the present book: ‘THE SILENT CINEMA’.

The immediate next publication will be a book on ‘CHARLIE CHAPLIN’, followed by the 2nd and 3rd volumes of ‘THE HISTORY OF WORLD CINEMA’.

Served the cause of the oppressed as a theatre activist for more than 25 years mostly in Andhra Pradesh and also conducted workshops and training programs in many parts of India and abroad. Served on the Advisory Committee of the National School of Drama,  ‘the South Indian chapter. At present retired from theatre and dedicated himself to full-time writing.

Theatre Training Under Great Gurus:

  • Trained under Badal Sarcar in 1982 – 1983 in the techniques and concepts of the ‘Third Theatre’.
  • Studied the music and performing systems of ‘VOGGU KATHA’, a Telengana semi-theatrical performing form under a traditional guru, Sri Chukka Sattaiah in 1986.
  • Trained under internationally known Brazilian director, Augusto Boal in Paris in 1992 in the systems of ‘Theatre of the Oppressed’.
  • Trained under Avant-garde Theatre Guru, Eugenio Barba at ‘Odin Teatret’, Holistbro, Denmark in 1994 in the principles of the ‘Grotowskian Theatre’.
  • Did a Certificate Course in the discipline of ‘Drama-in-Education’ in 1996 at University of Central England, Birmingham, UK.

Workshops and Trainings by the Author:

  • A course at the University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway in 1997.
  • A workshop at the University of Oslo, Olso, Norway in 1997.
  • A workshop in the University of Exeter, Exeter, UK in 1995.
  • A production workshop at the Banaras Hindu University in 1988.
  • A workshop at the Queensland University, Brisbane, Australia in 1996.
  • and many more…
  • Contributed 8 major articles on the important Telugu Traditional Performing Forms to ‘THE OXFORD COMPANION TO INDIAN THEATRE’, published by the Oxford University.

National Award

Pasupuleti Purnachandra Rao receiving the award from the Honorable President of India, Sri Pranab Mukherjee
The Award

Pasupuleti Purnachandra Rao, who wrote a book on ‘SILENT CINEMA’, has been awarded by the honorable President of India, Sri Pranab Mukherjee on 3rd May 2015, with a Swarna Kamal and Rs. 75,000.00 cash prize as part of the 62nd National Film Awards held at Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi.

The citation given to Sri Purnachandra Rao on this occasion reads as follows:

“Pasupuleti Purnachandra Rao’s work on silent cinema commands attention. It is as worthy of a scholar’s consideration as a common cinegoer’s time. He walks down the memory lane to come up with a work that is likely to go down as a benchmark for serious research in Indian cinema”


Honorable Chief Minister of Telengana Sri. K. Chandrashekar Rao congratulated Sri. Pasupuleti Purnachandra Rao, theatre activist and cinema scholar for being bestowed upon the most prestigious National Award for Best Book on Cinema for his book titled “SILENT CINEMA (1895 – 1930)” for the year 2014. This award is a part of the annual National Film Awards presented by the Directorate of Film Festivals, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.

Synopsis of the Book: SILENT CINEMA (In Telugu Language)

SILENT CINEMA by Pasupuleti Purnachandra Rao This book is an exhaustive study on the ‘Silent Cinema’ worldwide, including India. Such a comprehensive study on the subject is rare in any language in India, probably this is the first of its kind.

This is a chronological study, starts from 1895 which was the year the Lumiere Brothers had first exhibited their marvelous experiment of moving pictures through their patented Camera-cum-Projector called ‘Cinematographe’ to the Paris audience. This 1895-show of the Lumiere Brothers obviously commemorates the birth of cinema.

The present book ends with the year 1930 which was the end of the silent era in India, as the talkies era was heralded from 1931 onwards. In fact, in the West the talkie era had started in 1927 itself.

No book probably gives all essential information of the Western and Indian films together like this present book in Telugu on the era of silent cinema.

This book on the silent cinema has been written as the first part of the ‘HISTORY OF THE WORLD CINEMA’ in Telugu of which two more volumes are yet to come.

Generally, the histories are written country-wise or subject-wise, but I did not follow that path, I followed the path of chronology, ‘chronicalizing’ the events in each year; and as films started acquiring some quality character and style, I started reviewing important films in each year. In this book, the films are categorized country-wise each year. Right from the very first attempt of Save Dada in 1899, the emergence of Indian cinema has been discussed in this book. Since then, every attempt in Indian silent cinema, small or big, could be studied in this book on par with its Western counterparts’ year-wise, upto 1930. This could be a marvelous opportunity to undertake the comparative study of the Indian and Western silent films and their process of evolution. Starting from an exhaustive coverage of the films of Dada Saheb Phalke, the entire North Indian attempts in the silent cinema have been flawlessly covered.

While writing the part of the South Indian cinema, some original research has been undertaken by me. For example, Raghupathi Venkaiah Naidu (1887-1941) has been misunderstood as the first Telugu man who produced and directed silent films. With that opinion, the Telugu film industry has installed an award in the name of this person to give away every year to some prominent Telugu film personality. But the fact is that, Mr. Venkaiah Naidu was merely an exhibitor and built three permanent first cinema halls in Madras.

But his son Raghupathi Prakash (1901-1956) got trained in London’s Barker’s Studio in 1919 and after returning to Madras, he built India’s first modern glass-studio in Madras and started producing and directing silent films from 1921 onwards, while Dada Saheb Phalke had started making films from 1913 itself;

But Raghupathi Prakash was the first amongst the Telugu people and the real pioneer of the South Indian cinema. Coming back to the Western coverage which was exhaustive, starting from the Lumiere Brothers, Georges Melies, Edwin Porter to D. W. Griffith could be celebrated as the first era of the silent cinema. Then the ‘Golden Era of Comedy’ starts with the French pioneer and the king of slapstick, Max Linder, continued by Mack Sennett, but quickly hijacked by the incomparable Charlie Chaplin from 1914 onwards.

Cinema as a means of magic and entertainment has been mastered by the French and Americans but the serious and intellectual cinema was heralded by the Scandinavians (particularly Swedish) and then Germans.

The early era of Swedish cinema was dominated by two great masters, Victor Sjostrom and Mauritz Stiller. Another Scandinavian (Danish) who made films from many parts of Europe is Carl Dreyer whose ‘THE PASSION OF JOAN OF ARC’ (1928) has been considered as the best of all silent films. A full length analysis of this film is available in this book.

The German films of silent era were all bounded by a particular philosophy, aesthetic, and school of thought called the ‘EXPRESSIONISM’. Many German expressionist films have been reviewed and analyzed in this book, including the films like – ‘THE CABINET OF DOCTOR CALIGARY’ (1920) BY Robert Wiene; ‘NOSFERATU’ (1922) by F. M. Murnau; ‘METROPOLIS’ (1926) by Fritz Lang and many more.

Of the Russian-Soviet formalist extravaganza the two masterpieces of Sergei Eisenstein: ‘THE STRIKE’ (1924) and ‘THE BATTLESHIP POTEMKIN’ (1925) have been studied with an academic spirit in this book.

Salute to Dzigavertov, whose ‘THE MAN WITH A MOVIE CAMERA’ (1929) has surpassed the entire montage technique of Eisenstein and established the Soviet cinema as the foremost Avant-garde category of cinema which is still being considered modern. One can find one of the most original essays on this film in this Telugu book, which talks about the Brechtian connectivity of Vartov who is originally a German, in terms of his picking up the art of ‘Alienation’ from the Brechtian theatre, which later on became a cinematic patent of Jean-luc-godard.

Since the book ends with the year 1930, I had an opportunity to discuss about emergence of the sound films in the West from 1927 itself.

Starting from the very first sound film, ‘THE JAZZ SINGER’ (1927) the evolution of the sound technology has been discussed in this book.

This book is a six hundred seventy nine page scholarly work, written in popular style, for the benefit of the youth, film enthusiasts, and young film technicians.


Deep into the Silent Past, The Hindu, 3rd April 2015

SILENT CINEMA - Review by Ms. Lalitha, Andhra Jyothi, 19th April 2015


A film lover's tale - Deccan Chronicle, 14th May 2015

Photos and Videos

Best Book On Cinema Awardee Pasupuleti Purna Chandra Rao Interview, ETV Exclusive

62nd National Film Awards ceremony in Delhi, Studio N News

My daughter and son-in-law receiving a memento on my behalf from Dr. Dasari Narayana Rao on his 71st Birthday on 04th May-2015.
My daughter and son-in-law receiving a memento on my behalf from Dr. Dasari Narayana Rao on his 71st Birthday on 04-May-2015.

Pasupuleti Purnachandra Rao presenting a copy of his National Award winning book “The Silent Cinema” to Shri. M. M. Pallam Raju, former Cabinet Minister of Human Resources Development, Government of India, when he visited the author’s residence on 16th June 2015.
Pasupuleti Purnachandra Rao presenting his book to Shri. M M. Pallam Raju, former Union Minister for Human Resources Development in the Central Government.

Sri Chokkapu Narayana Swamy well known scholar and writer from Kurnool with Pasupuleti Purnachandra Rao on 18th May 2015.

Pasupuleti Purnachandra Rao presenting a copy of his National Award winning book “The Silent Cinema” to Megastar Chiranjeevi and C. Ramachandraiah, MLC on 28th October 2015.