Veteran actor A Nagaraju, known as Lava in the Telugu mythological film Lava Kusa for his child-artist role, is no longer. The actor passed away on Monday due to respiratory illness at his residence in Gandhi Nagar in Hyderabad. The actor was 71 and had worked in various supporting roles in several other Tollywood movies, including Lakshmi Pooja. Both Lava and Kusa characters received critical acclaim upon release of the film in 1963. It was directed in Telugu and Tamil by C Pullaiah and CS Rao. Later it was dubbed also in other languages. While Nagaraju played the role of Lava, Subrahmanyam, who then was a stage artist, played the role of Kusa. The shooting began in 1958 and proceeded for five years, until 1963.
In an interview to a Telugu channel, remembering his role as Lava, Nagaraju said, "When the film was released, we were complimented by everyone saying that we had done wonderfully. But only later did I realise the importance of the roles. We were beautifully moulded to suit our positions; we were given bow and arrow training. Director C Pullaiah used to sit on the set with us and explain the context of the scenes, and we had the majority of dialogues at our fingertips.
With these roles, the then child-artists became famous. The mythological film is part of the Ramayana portion of Uttarakanda centred around the life of the Lava and Kusa twin brothers, the Rama and Sita children. The film features senior actor Nandamuri Taraka Ramarao, popularly known as NTR, and leading actor Anjali Devi as Rama and Sita, respectively.
According to the reports, this was the first Telugu movie to be released as a full-length colour.