He graduated with a Physics Degree from University of Madras. Rao worked as associate director and singer to Harindranath Chattopadhyay, K. V. Reddy, and Pingali Nagendrarao, for films like Mayabazar (1957), Pelli Naati Pramanalu (1958), Jagadeka Veeruni Katha (1961), Sri Krishnarjuna Yuddham (1963), Sathya Harischandra (1965) etc. In 1970, subsequently Rao ventured into direction, and directed about sixty films in various languages including Hindi and English. He is an Indian film director, producer, screenwriter, composer, singer, lyricist and actor, known for his works in Telugu, Tamil, Kannada, Malayalam and Hindi films, across multiple genres. The octogenerain is widely regarded as one of the versatile directors of India. He is credited with having revolutionised the South Indian cinema with experimental films. He has garnered two National Film Awards, six state Nandi Awards, three Filmfare Awards South, and three Karnataka State Film Awards.
Rao served as the executive director for the 1970 Kannada film, Samskara which won the National Film Award for Best Feature Film, and Bronze Leopard at the Locarno International Film Festival. He made his Telugu directorial debut with Neethi Nijayithi (1972). He then directed social problem films like Dikkatra Parvathi (1974). He composed lyrics for films like Bhairava Dweepam (1994), and sound tracks for few Kannada films. He edited many magazines in Telugu such as Bharati, and scripted plays like Brahma, Antya Ghattam, and Chitrārjuna. Chitrārjuna was also translated into English, and was telecasted in American Television. Rao directed Kannada blockbusters like Haalu Jenu (1982), Chalisuva Modagalu (1982), Eradu Nakshatragalu (1983), Shravana Banthu (1984), Jwaalamukhi (1985) Bhagyada Lakshmi Baramma (1985), Anand (1986), Devatha Manushya (1988), and Ksheera Sagara (1992), etc. to name a few. The Kannada film journalists association has honored Srinivasa Rao with a Special Biography. Rao received three Karnataka State Film Awards, including two for Best Screenplay. He was also the music director of 2 Kannada movies - Bhagyada Lakshmi Baramma (directed by him) and Samyuktha - (not directed by him).
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