03 February 2023

Bellary Raghava

Published in Dramatists
Written by  Basavaraj B Be the first to comment!

The Legendary Indian Actor – Bellary Raghava
Courtesy: Thimmanacherla Raghavendra Rao,

The Legendary Indian Actor
Bellary Raghava was born on the 2nd August 1880 in Tadipatri a small town near Bellary. His Parents were A. Narasimhacharulu and Smt.Sheshamma. His father was a great scholar in Telugu.

Raghava studied in Municipal High School. He completed his graduation in Arts law from Christian college and law college, Madras. Born into the family of scholars, Playwrights, and actors naturally Raghava began to evince keen interest in acting.

Raghava graduated in law, joined the Bar as Junior, under his Dharmavaram Krishnamacharulu. Raghava evinced interest in the dramatic activities of the various dramatic troupes.

In Bellary on behalf of the young men’s actors’ league he enacted the scenes from Shakespeare’s plays.

Roles played by Raghava.
* Hiranya Kashyapa
* Duryodhana
* Ravana
* Pathan Rustum
* Keechaka
* Dasharatha
* Lord Yama, the Lord of death
* Arjuna
* Fall of Vijayanagar
* Rajaraju
* Chanakya
* Ramadasu
* Shivaji and other historical characters:
* Ravana, Usman Khan, Prithviraj And Kabeer In Kannada And Hindi Plays:

Raghava acted in Kannada plays, Mandodari, Talikote, Kabeer Prithviraj, Markandeya, Kanakadasa and Hindi Play Deenabhandu Kabeer.

Hamlet, Othello, Lear and Shylock
Raghava was a seasoned and consummate Shakespearean actor. His favourite roles were Hamelet, Lear, Othello and Shylock. Hamlet’s ambiguity, indecision, penetrating pain, Lear’s ego, helplessness, resulting in his madness, Othello’s haunted mide obsessions and suspicious nature, Shylock’s miserliness, jealousy and hatred were ably presented in his histrionics. English men in India who were serving in various departments as officers admired openly the genius of Raghava. They praised that Raghava was as good as any best English actor in England.

Raghava as a tragic hero
Raghava enacted the roles of Hiranya Kashyapa, Ravana, Dasharath, Keechaka, Rajaraju, and Rusthum from mythological and historical plays. These characters have similar epic dimensions of Greek and Shakespearean tragic heroes. Raghava’s Knowledge of Sanskrit, European, Greek and Shakespearean dramas enabled him to portray the tragic character in Telugu and Kannada plays in a creative and unique manner.


Raghava career of acting began in Madras while he was a student. When he settled in Bellary as a lawyer, he found the opportunity for acting in Telugu, Kannada and English plays. Raghava with his classmates and friends in Bangalore, established amateur dramatic association in 1909.

Raghava’s European tour
Raghava had immense Knowledge and understanding of the Sanskrit and Greek classic tradition, European modernism and naturalism and the Indian and Asian folk theatre. He was a voracious reader of literature on World Theatre and famous plays of great playwrights of the world. Inspired by his teacher Pandit Tharanath and fellow Actors, Friends and well wishers he set out on a tour of Europe.

Raghava met Bernard Shaw. He had very useful discussions with him on the art of drama, both eastern and western. Shaw was very much impressed.

A.V. Varadacharya: Who could compare with Raghavachar in the roles of Hamlet and Othello. If living saw him playing Hamlet even he would say the same.
Devudu: Raghava had the capacity of Vishwakarma the great architect. His good mastery of voice with finest modulation, intonation and pronunciation mesmerized the audience. This added a culture to his performance.

C.K. Ventataramaiah: Authors felt honored if Raghava took up their plays. He was inimitable in portraying the epic characters.

Bhaskara Ramachandra: He was an adept in presenting the characters with intense emotional feelings called Sathvika.

Mikkineni Radhakrishna, Samudrala and Apparao, V.C. of Andhra University: His portrayal of epic characters in a unique style, especially that of Hiranya Kashyapa, Duryodhana, Ravana and Keechaka earned him the encomiums of great actors of his time.

K.V Gopalaswamy and P.V.Rajamannar: His enactment of the roles of Pathan Rustum, Chanakya, Hamelet, Othello, Ravana, Rajaraju, Hiranya Kashyapa proved his innovative genius.
Critics described him as an incomparable actor in India and comparable to any great actor of Asia and Europe.

Korrapati Gangadhara Rao: Raghava inspired many of his contemporary actors. His bold, sometimes unconventional al and experimental approach in histrionics earned him the title of actor plus and all time great actor.

A.Janakiram, the writer: Among those actors who graced Andhra stage one can easily say that greatest was Raghava.

Bendre, a Kannada poet: As an actor, he was superb. His regal personality and sparkling eyes, portrayed all subtleties of emotions. As a human being Raghava was endowed with Noble and godly qualities.

Rabindranath Tagore: He is the greatest actor in the Indian contemporary dramatis.
Mahatma Gandhi: Witnessing his performance in Kabeer is a memorable experience. I carry with me the sweetest memories.

Sarojini Naidu: A Wonderful actor with a divine gift of acting.
Bernard Shaw: If only you had been born in England, England would have made you as great as Shakespeare.

When N.T. Rama Rao was the chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh the Andhra Government installed the statue of Raghava in his honor on the Tank Band of Secunderabad. In recognition of Raghava’s great contribution to the enrichment of the art of drama. The Bellary Municipal Corporation has installed his statue at an important centre in Bellary.

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