Akkineni Nageswara Rao, fondly known as ANR, was the star of the Telugu film industry of yesteryear. His work in the film industry and his contribution to the Telugu cinema is commendable and worth recalling and paying tribute to. ANR’s career spanned over a duration of 75 years and in this time many memories were created in the minds of the audience. A few works of his are evergreen and cannot be replaced. With his talent and keen business acumen, he rose from an actor to one of the most prominent figures of the film industry.
He was one of the most important people who helped shift Telugu cinema from Chennai to Hyderabad in the 1960’s alongside D.V.S. Raju. He founded the Annapurna Studios in the year 1975 and provided the infrastructural support to the newly established film industry in Hyderabad. Today, Annapurna Studios stands as one of the most prestigious studios in Hyderabad with state of the art facilities and is currently serving as a go-to place for cross-media entertainment such as audio launches, corporate events and also television awards. The futuristic thinking of the star and his estimation that the Telugu cinema will spread its wings far more than anticipated deserves a special mention.
ANR contributed significantly to the Telugu cinema by working on memorable biographical roles such as Tenali Rama which received the All India Certificate of Merit for Best Feature Film, Mahakavi Kalidasu, 12th century Sanskrit poet – Bhakta Jayadeva of Odisha, Amara Shilpi Jakkanna, Bhakta Tukaram of Maharashtra to name a few. He also worked on modern dramas and romantic tales such as Laila Majnu, Devadasu, Anarkali, Mooga Manasulu, Prem Nagar, Gundamma Katha, and many other blockbuster hits. He also worked on movies based on the then prevailing social issues like Mangalya Balam.
ANR won many awards and accolades during his vast career along with honors like his movie Mayabazaar featuring in the International Film Festival of India and Indonesian Film Festival in which he essayed the role of Abhimanyudu, a mythological character along with Savitri, who played the role of Sasirekha. He won close to seven Nandi awards and several State awards and the highest honor of the film industry, the Dadasaheb Phalke Award. He was also awarded the Padma Vibhushan, India’s second highest civilian award for his contribution to the Indian cinema. He took his last breath after the movie Manam, a family entertainer in which the whole Akkineni family was cast. As a tribute to the actor, Manam was screened at the 45th International Film Festival of India in the Homage to ANR section in November 2014.