From a poor farmer's son to one of the most loved and respected actors of Indian cinema, Akkineni Nageswara Rao's journey, which lasted over seven decades, could very well make an interesting story of a film. ANR, who as a youngster, walked bare foot in Gudivada in Krishna district of coastal Andhra, rose to the dizzy heights of stardom and became a symbol of the Telugu film industry or Tollywood as it is popularly called sometimes.
ANR, as fans fondly called him, died of cancer at a private
hospital here in the early hours of Wednesday, plunging the
industry into gloom. He was 89 and is survived by three daughters
and two sons, including popular actor Nagarjuna. He was the last of
the most popular first generation actors of Telugu cinema and was
considered one of the two all-time greats of Telugu cinema, the
other being NT Rama Rao (NTR) who died in 1996.
Akkineni Nageswara Rao started his career as an actor in theatre
when he was just nine. In the initial years of his career, he even
played female characters. His passion for cinema was spotted by his
mother at a very young age. "I dropped out of school because my
family couldn't afford it. I used to help my mother at her work,
but at leisure, I used to stand in front of the mirror and act," Rao told in his interview last year.
The 91-year-old legendary actor said, "My mother noticed my interest in acting and asked my brother to introduce me to the local theatre group. I can't even think of what I would have been if not an actor."
We bring you rare and unseen pictures of Akkineni Nageswara Rao
and details about his contribution to the making of Telugu film
industry. Continue to see them in the
Rao was truly a rags-to-riches story. He made his
cinematic debut in 1941 Telugu film Dharmapatni with a
brief role, and in 1944 he was picked up from the platform of
Bezawada (now Vijayawada) railway station and signed on to play the
lead role in Telugu drama Sitarama
ANR Played Variety Of Roles
Rao never hesitated to play a variety of roles, such as
a villager, an urban educated protagonist, a tragic hero and even a
comedian, to sustain his popularity over the years. He believed in
longevity, and therefore, constantly chose to play different roles
as he never wanted the audience to get bored of seeing him on
ANR's Best Movies
While Rao will be remembered for many wonderful films
such as Devadasu, Mayabazar, Dr
Chakravarthy and Muga Manasulu,
Sudigundaalu, Antastulu and
Meghasandesam, Rao's best work was in Batasari
ANR Called His Performance In Batasari Is Finest
"I still consider 'Batasari' as one of my finest
performances in my career. There was only one page of dialogue in
the whole picture and the role demanded maximum use of
expressions," he had told IANS in the interview.
Devadasu Catapulted ANR Into First Romantic Hero
Despite strong criticism, Rao acted in
Devadasu, only to be catapulted to the status of Telugu
cinema's first romantic hero. The strong criticism made him all the
more eager to prove himself with the film.
In 1966 Telugu drama Navaratri, Rao essayed
nine different roles and earned critical acclaim for his
performance. The film was later remade in Hindi as Naya Din
Nayi Raat with Sanjeev Kumar.
ANR's Romantic Roles
Mostly remembered for his romantic roles in Laila
Majnu, Anarkali and Prem Nagar, Rao also
starred and proved his mettle in several mythological characters in
Mayabazar, Mahakavi Kalidasu and Bhakta
Tukaram, Sri Ramadasu and Sri Rama
235 Telugu Films
In his 74-year long illustrious career, he starred in
about 235 Telugu films, besides 20 Tamil and one Hindi. Some of his
best Tamil films include Anbumagan, Kanal Neer
and Pen Manam.
Telugu Filmdom Shifted From Chennai To Hyderabad
Although he was enjoying a successful career in Tamil
industry too, Rao shifted base to Hyderabad to ensure longevity in
Telugu filmdom. Also he wanted his children to learn and speak
ANR Passion And Devotion
A true disciplinarian in both reel and real life, Rao
succeeded because of passion and devotion. He believed as an actor
one shoulders lot of responsibility, and therefore, he or she
should always be careful about his or her actions both in films and
in public life.
He was instrumental in setting up one of the biggest
studios in India. Named after his late wife, Annapurna Studios will
remain the thespian's biggest gift to the Indian
The veteran, who studied only up to fifth standard, also
set up a film school as he believed in the philosophy of giving
back to the society.
Filmfare Awards For ANR
Rao bagged three Filmfare awards for the Best Actor for
his role in Marapurani Manishi (1973), Seetharamaiah
Gari Manavaralu (1991) and Bangaru Kutumbam (1994).
He also won two Nandi awards for best actor for
Meghasandesam (1982) and Bangaru Kutumbam
Lifetime Achievement Awards
He was recipient of many awards, including Padma
Vibushan, the second highest civilian award of the country, and the
Dada Saheb Phalke Award, the highest individual lifetime
achievement award for films.
ANR's Last Film
Rao's last film was Telugu family drama Manam
with son Nagarjuna and grandson Naga Chaitanya. The film is slated
for release this year.
ANR's Last Press Conference
Rao called a press conference in October last year to
announce that he was diagnosed with cancer. He refused to take
questions, saying he doesn't want any sympathy. Claiming that he
has strong will, he said he wanted to live up to 100 years with the
good wishes of his fans, but the destiny willed