Telugu screen icon Akkineni Nageswara Rao, widely known as A.N.R., was an Indian film actor and producer known for his works predominately in Telugu cinema. He was born on 20th September 1924 to a farming family at Ramapuram, Andhra Pradesh.
Akkineni Nageshwara Rao is known as the doyen of Telugu film fraternity who was one of the first star heroes of the nascent Telugu film industry. A.N.R. lived and breathed cinema till his end and he was equally at home in all genres of cinema from historical, mythological, folk, adventure and social drama as well.
A.N.R., the last of the first generation heroes was an atheist by nature, but a firm believer of destiny as was his foray into films. There have been many glorious moments in his 75 years career. Nageshwara Rao’s cinema graph has been a surreal journey traversing through the silent era, talkies, Eastman color and digital ages. In his long career, Akkineni did over 250 films as the lead.
The vivacious youngster A.N.R., was spotted by a noted film producer Ghantasala Balaramaiah when they were both on the railway platform in Vijayawada, and offered Akkineni Nageshwara Rao, a role in “Sri Seetha Rama Jananam.” Following that the critically acclaimed and highly successful “Devadasu” changed the fortunes of A.N.R., overnight and shot him to star status. The poignant portrayal of Devadasu, in which A.N.R., plays an alcoholic jilted lover, was beyond compare.
Post “Devadasu,” he had become a tour de force for tragic roles. Despite many actors clear across all the Indian Languages having reprised the role of Devadasu, none could match A.N.R. Even, the legendary Dilip Kumar who first enacted the Hindi version of “Devadas” said, Akkineni Nageshwara Rao did a much better job as the character that he, Dilip Kumar ever did! Such was the impact created by A.N.R.
Akkineni is probably most noted for his performances in tragic romantic dramas such as “Laila Majnu“, “Anarkali“, “Batasari“, “Devadasu,” “Prem Nagar” and “Meghasandesham“. His mythological roles include “Maya Bazaar“, “Bhookailas” and “Sri Krishnarjuna Yuddham.”
Though A.N.R., never believed in a god, he portrayed the roles of a devotee in many films like “Kalidasu,” “Bhakta Tukaram,” “Vipranarayana” and “Sri Ramadasu.” Apart from being a great actor, he was a philanthropist and a great philosopher.
He is also known for being a pioneer in shifting Telugu film industry from Madras to Hyderabad. In order to create a special identity for Telugu film industry, he had shifted his base to the City during the peak of his career and constructed Annapurna Studios in 1975.
The legendary A.N.R. wrapped up his work with “Manam” that featured three generations of the Akkineni family, including, Nagarjuna and grandson Naga Chaitanya. A.N.R. is touted to be the only actor in the world to be acting at the age of 90; he had often said that he wished to act till his death, and “Manam” proved that.
Winner of the prestigious Dada Saheb Phalke Award, he was also presented India’s second highest civilian award Padma Vibhushan in 2011 and the Padma Shri. He received several lifetime achievement awards in various countries apart from the prestigious awards instituted by the government of Andhra Pradesh and has also received several honorary doctorates by many Indian Universities.
He married Annapurna Akkineni, in the year 1949. His elder son Akkineni Venkat became a producer and made many super hits under the Annapurna Studios Banner. Younger son Nagarjuna Akkineni is a star hero in Telugu films. A.N.R.’s, grandsons Sumanth, Sushanth, Naga Chaitanya and Akhil are also popular heroes in Tollywood.
The legendary actor who carried the aura even beyond the silver screen has been an iconic deified figure all through his life. After battling with cancer for many years, the legendary actor breathed his last breath on 22nd January 2013. Thousands were present to pay their last respects to Nageshwara Rao.
Today is Akkineni Nageshwara Rao’s birth anniversary, and all of us at thetelugufilmnagar.com would like to pay rich tributes to his memory.