A tribute to Dada Saheb Phalke Award winner Legendary Indian actor and producer Akkineni Nageswara Rao. Dada Saheb Phalke Award winner and doyen of Telugu cinema, legendary actor and producer Akkineni Nageswara Rao (fondly called ANR), died in the early hours in Hyderabad today. He was 91.
Akkineni Nageswara Rao was the youngest of 5 brothers born into a poor family on 20 September 1923 at Ramapuram, Krishna District. His parents, Akkineni Venkatratnam and Akkineni Punnamma, were from the farming community. His formal education was limited to primary schooling due to his parents’ poor economic condition.
The farm boy, who never imagined that he would cross the borders of his village or district, toured all over the world as an ambassador of art and culture. He was invited as a State Guest by the United States of America, England, France and Germany in 1964 and the USSR in 1972 besides some other countries in the West to study Film Craft and Theatre Arts in the respective countries.
He had visited Australia in 1967 leading the delegates for the Indian Entry Film, Antastulu, at the Sydney Film Festival. He also led a high level Film Delegation to Mauritius. All across the globe, the people felicitated Dr. Akkineni with love and honour. On Oct 19, 2013 he held a press meet and announced that he was diagnosed with intestinal cancer.
He expressed his positive outlook over the disease and said he will fight till the end. He passed away on 22 January 2014. He was 90.
In a carrier spanning almost seven decades Nageswara Rao acted in around 250 films. He was currently acting in a film titled “Manam” which casts three generations of actors of his family.
ANR played a variety of roles ranging from a charming prince to a frustrated alcoholic lover, from a valiant soldier to a holy saint, and from a college student to a composed government official. He excelled in mythological roles too as Abhimanyu in Maya Bazaar, as Lord Vishnu in Chenchu Lakshmi; as Narada in Bhookailash; and Arjuna in Sri Krishnarjuna Yuddham.
In rural oriented films like Balaraju, Rojulu Maraayi, and Namminabantu, he attained the status of Telugu cinema’s first superstar. Surprisingly in comedy films too like Missamma, Chakrapani, and Preminchi Choodu, he made a striking mark.
ANR is fondly called the “Tragedy King” of Telugu cinema, through his milestone performances in romantic dramas such as Laila Majnu, Anarkali, Batasari, Prem Nagar, Premabhishekam, and Meghasandesham.
The film Premabhishekam directed by Dasari Narayana Rao is one of the biggest hits in Tollywood. It had an amazing 533 days run in Hyderabad City, which is still the highest run in a city for any Telugu movie. Premabhishekam is the only Telugu film to have run for 365+ days continuously.
He was the first to don a double role in Telugu films, and even played nine roles in the film Navarathri. ANR’s portrayal of an alcoholic jilted lover in Devadasu erected an everlasting monument to Sarath Chandra’s famous Bengali character. Although that role was reprised by many in later years in several different languages, it prompted the famous Hindi actor Dilip Kumar to say, “there is only one Devadasu, and that is Nageswara Rao.” A majority of ANR’s social films like Samsaram, Bratuku Teruvu, Aradhana, Donga Ramudu, Dr. Chakravarthi, Ardhaangi, Mangalya Balam, Illarikam, Shantinivasam, Velugu Needalu, Dasara Bullodu, Bharya Bhartalu, Dharmadata, Batasari, and College Bullodu were commercially successful films.
Sitaramayyagari Manavaralu was released in 1991, exactly 50 years after his debut, and was a huge success at the box office, despite the influx of newer and younger stars.
A unique feature that won ANR acclaim from critics and art lovers was that he enacted the roles of literary and cultural icons of different regions in India, thereby making them instruments of national integration.–as the great Sanskrit poet, Mahakavi Kalidas of Ujjain; as the celebrated musician saint, Bhakta Jayadeva of Odisha; as the temple sculptor, Amarasilpi Jakkanna of Karnataka; as the devotee saint, Vipranarayana of Tamil Nadu; and as the singer Bhakta Tukaram.
Manam movie is the last film of akkineni nageswara rao. He is acted with his son nagarguna and grandson naga chaitanya.
He is the founder of Annapurna studios and besides son Nagarjuna, his daughter-in-law Amala, grandsons Naga Chaitanya and Akhil Akkineni are also famous Telugu actors.
Akkineni Nageswara Rao died aged 90 on 22 January 2014 in Hyderabad due to Intestinal Cancer. He was suffering with intestinal cancer and died undergoing treatment in care hospital at Hyderabad.
Roa is survived by three daughters and two sons. The body will be taken to Annapurna studios owned by the family to enable his fans and film personalities to pay their last tributes.