Former TDP MP, who opposed govt’s moves in unique ways in House, dies

Ankita Dwivedi Johri, Sreenivas Janyala
Narmalli Sivaprasad (centre) at Parliament complex. File

In Parliament last year, Naramalli Sivaprasad had photographers flocking to him every day as he slipped into various roles — none of which had anything to do with his skills as an actor, director, professor or a Member of Parliament. From being draped in a sari as a Telugu woman to a schoolboy in shorts, from wearing his hair in a ponytail to play Narada, to playing the flute as Lord Krishna, and from a priest in a robe to a maulvi in a skull cap he donned all of 21 looks in 2018 to protest the denial of special status to Andhra Pradesh.

On Saturday, the former Telugu Desam Party (TDP) MP died at a private hospital in Chennai, where he was admitted two weeks ago. He was 68. He was suffering from a kidney ailment and died of a renal failure. TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu had visited him at the hospital on Friday.

Sivaprasad is survived by wife and two daughters. Sivaprasad is survived by wife and two daughters.Once, he dressed up as a fisherman with a net on his shoulder to highlight the woes of fishermen in Andhra Pradesh.

First and foremost I am an artist, an actor. I find different ways to convey and express the concerns of Telugu people. My experience as a theatre and drama artist in my youth helps a lot, he once told The Indian Express. His wife, Dr Rajlakshmi, a gynaecologist, and his two daughters are both doctors in Tirupati.

His family helped with ideas for his looks and makeup, he had told The Indian Express in March 2018, while explaining his sari look in Parliament. My missus got me the sari and wig and helped me with the makeup. Somebody in my relation stitched the blouse. My wife, two daughters and sons-in-law help me with all the costumes and props.

In the interview, he also went on to elaborate on his sensational marriage . She hailed from the upper-most Reddy caste and I am an SC. So you can imagine what would have transpired then, he had said. Today she is a leading gynaecologist and we have a nursing home in Tirupati. Of course, financially, her contribution in setting up the place was more.

Sivaprasad was a two-time MP from Chittoor, winning in 2009 and 2014. He lost to YSRCP’s N Reddappa in 2019. Before he entered politics in 1995, Sivaprasad, a trained doctor, was an actor in Telugu films. He had acted in 40 films in a career spanning three decades. He played his last role in 2013.

My 1983 film Khaidi is my favourite. It made Chiranjeevi a huge star, he told The Indian Express.

A friend of N Chandrababu Naidu, he was brought into politics by the TDP chief when he was first made president of the TDP cultural cell. While he juggled between his acting career in Hyderabad, spending time at his wife’s hospital in Tirupati and teaching at a college,

Sivaprasad kept a low-profile in TDP and politics. Until Naidu asked him to contest from Satyavedu Assembly seat in Chittoor in 1999, where he won and was made Culture Minister in the Naidu government. He contested again in 2004 and lost. In 2009, Naidu asked him to contest from Chittoor Lok Sabha seat which he won in spite of a strong wave in support of late Y S Rajashekara Reddy.

In 2014, Naidu joked that now that we are with the government, there will not be any opportunity for you to assume different avatars, he said then, but in November 2016, he got a custom-made costume with stickers of people in distress because of demonetisation. I can t help it. In times of crisis, the artiste within me is forced to don these attires to draw people s attention, he had said.

In Parliament, he was also very courteous with the media, giving interviews in English, Hindi and Telugu, and often interspersing his sentences with OK ma am, please sir, thank you ma am.

After his defeat in 2019, Sivaprasad was back as a doctor at his wife’s hospital at Tirupati. He had developed a kidney ailment and was shifted to Apollo Hospitals in Chennai as his condition worsened.

TDP chief Naidu condoled the family. "I have lost a great friend today. May his soul rest in peace. The party has lost two senior leaders within a week," Naidu said, referring to Kodela Sivaprasad Rao who committed suicide last week.

Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy expressed shock and grief and sent condolence messages to his family.