Veteran film artiste Jonnalagadda Venkata Somayajulu of Shankarabharanam fame died of cardiac arrest at a corporate hospital in Hyderabad last night, family sources said. The actor, who was 76, leaves behind his wife, two sons, and a daughter.
Born in August 1928 in Srikakulam district of Andhra Pradesh, Somayajulu became a renowned stage artiste and played the role of Ramappa Panthulu to perfection in the evergreen play Kanyasulkam written by the legendary Gurujada Apparao.
Keertisheshulu and NGO were the other popular plays he staged during four decades of theatre activity.
Somayajulu joined films in 1980 and shot to national fame with his maiden film Shankarabharanam. He essayed the lead role of Shankara Shastry, a puritan of Carnatic music, in the K Vishwanath classic, winning the national award for his sublime performance.
Somayajulu, who retired as head of the department of theatre arts in Telugu University, also portrayed Vaggayakara 'Thyagaraja' in a magnum opus directed by Bapu.
He acted in about 150 films in Telugu, Tamil, Kannada and Hindi of which Vamsavruksham and Saptapadhi also became hits.