Raghupathi Venkaiah Naidu (15 October 1887 – 15 March 1941) was a Indian artist involved photography and in many aspects of the Cinema of India. He was the first owner of movie theatres in Madras, and the producer and director of the first few silent Indian movies and talkies.

Venkaiah Naidu was the second son of an Indian Army official in Machilipatnam, Andhra Pradesh, India. At the age of 18, he moved to Chennai and started drawing pictures and carving sculptures and selling them. He then learned photography and started a photo studio.

In 1909, he ordered a Chrono Mega phone, equipment that relates sounds with pictures, from John Dickinson and Company. To pay for the Chrono Mega phone he bought for Rs 30,000, he rented out his photo studio. He shot 12 short films and exhibited them in Victoria Public Hall. He also traveled to Bangalore, Vijayawada, Srilanka, Rangoon and Peg to exhibit his films.

In 1910, he established Esplanade Ten House to exhibit his films. In 1912, he constructed Gaiety Talkies on Mount Road, the first Indian-owned cinema theatre in Chennai. He later constructed Crown Theater on Mint Street and Globe Theater in Parasuwakka, Chennai. He also exhibited American and British films. Some of the first movies shown in his theatres were Million Dollar MysteryMysteries of Meera,Clutching HandBroken CoinRaja’s casketPeral fish, and ‘Great Bard’.

In 1919, he started a production company called Star of East Films and a film studio called Glass Studio. He sent his son, Raghupathi Surya Prakash Naidu to study cinematography in London. Raghupathi Venkaiah Naidu and his son Prakash made their first movie “Meenakshi Kalyanam” around actual locations of the Madurai Meenakshi temple. Later, they produced films like Gajendra MokshamMathsyavatharam,Nandanaar, and Bhishma Pratigna, the first Telugu mookie (with no playback voices) movie.

In 1929, he was forced to sell his properties to pay off his debts. The Andhra Pradesh state government established the Raghupathi Venkaiah Naidu Award, later changed to Raghupathi Venkaiah Award for lifetime contributors to the Telugu movie industry.

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