Akkineni Lakshmi Vara Prasada Rao (Telugu: అక్కినేని లక్ష్మీవరప్రసాదరావు; 17 January 1908 – 22 June 1994), known popularly as L. V. Prasad was an Indian film producer, actor, director, cinematographer and businessman. He was one of the pioneers of Indian cinema and is the recipient of the Dadasaheb Phalke Award, the highest Award for films in India. In 1980, he was awarded the Raghupathi Venkaiah Award, for his contribution to Telugu cinema. He founded Prasads Group in 1956, which include the Prasad Art Pictures, Prasad Studios, Prasads IMAX and L V Prasad Eye Institute. L.V.Prasad was the chairman of the 27th National Film Awards Selection Committee held at New Delhi in 1980.
He was the chairman of the All India Selection Panel of Indian Panorama section for the 8th International Film Festival of India from 3 to 17 January 1981. Prasad was also the chairman of the International Jury for Children’s Film Festival held in November 1981 at Madras. He was elected as the President of The South Indian Film Chamber of Commerce for the year 1982–83. He was the Member of the Board of Film Censors from October 1980 to February 1987. L.V.Prasad was Chairman of the Studio Owners, Council, a wing of Film Federation of India. The Government of India released a Commemorative postage stamp in his memory in 2006
Akkineni Lakshmi Vara Prasada Rao was born on 17 January 1908 as the second son to Akkineni Sriramulu and Basavamma in the remote village of Somavarapadu, in Eluru Taluk in Andhra Pradesh, India. The family was into agriculture and Prasad was a pampered child, very intelligent but never interested in studies.
At the age of 17, in the year 1924, he got married to his maternal uncle’s daughter, Soundarya Manoharamma. Soon they had a baby girl. Prasad’s father was finding the going tough due to mounting debts and was forced to declare insolvency, at which point Prasad looked to a cinema career.
L. V. Prasad has worked as an errand boy for Venus Film Company. He then joined India Pictures as an errand boy where Akthar Nawaz cast him in a bit-part role in the silent film Star of the East. In 1931, he has acted in India’s first “talkie”, Alam Ara, recruited through Venus Film Company. Other minor roles followed. These films were made by Imperial Films, through which he met H. M. Reddy. Reddy gave Prasad a small role in Kalidas, the first Tamil “talkie”, and subsequently in Baktha Prahlada, the first Telugu “talkie”. It was around this time that Prasad made contact with his family and then returned home to visit them. He then returned to Bombay with his wife and daughter, where his sons, Anand and Ramesh, were born.
Prasad by chance got a role as an assistant director in Kamar-Al–Zaman, directed by Ali Shah. This was also the time that his name was shortened from Akkineni Lakshmi Varaprasad Rao to L. V. Prasad, this being a consequence of a clerk finding the name too long to use. The shortened name stuck with him thereafter. Tantra Subrahmanyam assigned him a job of a production supervisor and assistant director for the film Kashta Jeevi which took him to Bombay again. The film was abandoned after shooting three reels. Prasad was in no mood to leave now and he got a job as assistant director in a few other films. During this time using his connections with Prithviraj Kapoor he joined Prithvi Theatres and satisfied his acting passion. It was during this time that he met Raj Kapoor, the hero of his first Hindi production Sharada.
In 1943 he got the opportunity to take on the responsibility of assistant director for Gruha Pravesam. Due to circumstances he became the director of the film and then he was also chosen as the lead actor of the film! Gruha Pravesam, released in 1946 was one of the finest films of the forties and went on to become a classic of the period. After this K. S. Prakasa Rao offered Prasad an important role in Drohi. During this time Ramabrahmam was facing difficulty in finishing his film Palnati Yudham due to ill health and he chose Prasad to do justice to this film. After this in 1949, Prasad directed Mana Desam and introduced N.T.Rama Rao, later to become a legend in Telugu cinema, in a minor role.
In 1950 Vijaya Pictures released their first film Shavukaru establishing L. V. Prasad as a director. Samsaram released in the same year brought together the two legends of the Telugu film industry as brothers – N.T.Rama Rao and A. Nageswara Rao in a social drama which created records wherever it was released. The film provided a model for later film makers, a model and theme relevant and popular amongst film makers even today. After this, success chased him. He directed some memorable films in the fifties all of them known for their drama and fine humour. Rani a Hindi film took him to Bombay again and after that Jupiter Films engaged L.V.Prasad to direct their Magnum Opus Manohara starring the legendary Sivaji Ganesan in Tamil, Telugu and Hindi.
But L. V. Prasad had more goals to achieve. In 1955 he assigned D. Yoganand to direct his first production Ilavelpu in Telugu under the banner Lakshmi Productions. L. V. Prasad established Prasad Productions, soon after this in 1956. His second son Ramesh returned from the United States after obtaining his B.E.M.S degree and established Prasad Film Labs in Chennai in 1974. Prasad Productions made many memorable box office hits including Milan, Khilona, Sasural and Ek Duje Ke Liye. L. V. Prasad contributed generously towards the establishment of L. V. Prasad Eye Institute in Hyderabad.