Hyderabad: Rekandar Nageswara Rao, more popularly known as Surabhi Babji, and the first stage artist to be conferred with a Padma Shri died at his residence in Serilingampally following a heart attack on Thursday. He was 73.
Babji was suffering from ill-health for the past few months. Around 5.30 pm, Babji complained of chest pain. After examination, doctors said that he had died of a heart attack.
The final rites would be performed here on Friday.
Surabhi Babji born into a theatre family in Gimidi Peta in Srikakulam district. His forefather Rekander Chinna Venkatrao founded the Sri Venkateswara Natya Mandali (Surabhi) in 1937. Since then, the family members have been organising Surabhi dramas across the globe.
Babji also played prominent roles in films like Lavakusa, Mayabazar, Anasuya, Sri Veera Brahmam gari Charitra, Harishnandra, Bobbili Yuddham, Balanagamma, and Chintamani.
Babji received Padma Shri in 2013 and the Sangeet Natak Akademi award in 2011.
Union Minister G Kishan Reddy said that Surabhi Babji enthralled millions of theatre-goers during his prolific five-decade career.
Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao said that Surabhi Babji made India proud with stage shows. He took responsibility in organising Surabhi dramas with the 60 family members. He expressed his condolences to the bereaved family.
BJP state chief Bandi Sanjay Kumar expressed grief at the sudden demise of Surabhi Babji. He said Babji promoted Telugu culture and traditions with his shows.