Telugu Cinema News

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Saturday, May 3, 2008

Akkineni Nageswara Rao (born September 20, 1924 at Venkataraghavapuram, Dist. Krishna, Andhra Pradesh), also known as ANR, is a film actor from Gudivada Andhra Pradesh. He is one of the first fully commercial Telugu Cinema heroes. His films include a diverse range of genres which include mythological, folk tale, social, adventure and drama. He is a contemporary to NTR who jointly shared popularity as one of the greatest telugu actors for almost 40 years. Nageswara Rao was awarded the Dadasaheb Phalke Award in 1990 for his lifetime contributions to Indian cinema. He is also a recipient of the Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri.

He is the first person to cause the shift of Telugu film industry to Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh from Chennai, Tamilnadu in an attempt to bring the native language to the heart of the Telugu community. Soon after moving to Hyderabad, Nageswara Rao founded his own production house, Annapoorna Studios located in Banjara Hills

He is noted for his class roles in the mid 1960's. His younger son Nagarjuna is also an actor in Telugu.Even at the age of 83, Dr Akkineni Nageswara Rao still acts. He is specifically remembered in Andhra Pradesh for his biographical roles like Dr.Chakravarthy, Devadasu, Vipranarayana, Chakradhari, Tukaram, Kalidasu, Jayadeva, Tenali Ramakrishna, and Kshethrayya. Moreover he is popular as hero of many popular fiction novels which were made into films such as Doctor Chakravarthi, Prema Nagar, Secretary etc.

Akkineni's Premabhishekam movie is one of the biggest Industry Hit movies in Tollywood. Premabhishekam has an amazing 533 days run in Hyderabad City which is still highest run in a city for telugu movies. Premabhishekam is the only film in telugu that went for 365+ days run directly
Akkineni Nageswara Rao is the living face of golden era of Telugu cinema. He endeared himself with four generations of people of Andhra Pradesh and is the face of Indian cinema too for outside world. His is a household name in true sense. Thanks to the boom of television channel industry, younger generation of audiences is exposed to these healthy and entertaining movies of Akkineni. Some in India and abroad possess as treasure, videos or CDs of his great films, like 'Devadas', 'Ardhangi', 'Laila Majnu', 'Maya Bazar', 'Vipranarayana' and many many more. Youth used to see ANR in themselves and imitated his style, hairdo and even posturing. Lucky that legendary singer Ghantasala too entered Telugu cinema almost with ANR. Ghantasala's rendition and ANR playing that role looked as 'made for each other'. Ghatasala's voice was more identified with ANR than any other artiste and hence almost all the films of ANR became great musicals too. "People's admiration and love were greater awards in themselves for me", he says.

The major contributory factor for the everlasting image of this evergreen hero is that none in India or even in foreign land has such long screen innings as a hero, like ANR does. It is a record for any artiste to stay hero for more than six decades on screen.ANR has always been an outspoken person. His observations on his life and career are so realistic that one feels he has studied the world well. His comment on social, political and cultural scenario is well studied. He is the most attractive speaker in all the functions he participates these days. He is a potential conversationalist. Life in the tinsel world provided him basic education. He says that institutions like Pratibha, Bharani, Sarada, Annapoorna, Jagapati and individuals like DL Narayana, Raghavayya, Bhanumathi, Dukkipati and many famous writers and poets constituted his university of learning. These learned men are comparable only to learned professors in any University. Playing a poet, a singer, a lover, an adventurer or a folklore hero means a lot of experience. As an actor, ANR transported himself into the role first and then into one who is capable of looking at life from all angles, analytically. He learned a lot and digested quite a bit of it

ANR braved many challenges. He is a critic's critic and is gifted with analytical mind. "One has to first understand and assess his own strong and weak points before accepting a role. I love a journalist who mirrors the true faults in performances of artistes. I keep a man away who always praises me," he says.

He goes a bit philosophic and introspective. "What would have happened to me if Ghantasala Balaramiah did not notice me on the railway platform and looked other side while I was walking on the platform", he recalls. "It was a tryst with destiny or say was a matter of chance that I came into his view and that moment changed my destiny", he observes.

He has his favorite artistes to cherish. Ashok Kumar and Dilip Kumar of Hindi cinema and Gregory Peck and Marlon Brando of Hollywood. But remember ANR has been a contemporary of these actors. There is a lot in his life for other artistes to learn. This actor, who was considered unfit for socials, after he figured in many folklores in the early period, ultimately proved he is a master at socials, historicals, mythologicals and devotionals like 'Vipranarayana'. ANR also takes credit even for the development of film industry in Andhra Pradesh. With him came many of his producers to Hyderabad. "All of us went to Madras from our state and developed the film industry there. Now we come back to our own state, to which we belong and will develop here in toto," says he. It happened. He is credited for many firsts – first who introduced hero dancing in cinema, call sheet diary system.
"'Maya Bazar' of KV Reddy is a lesson in cinematography art," he says. For him 'Donga Ramudu' is a social epic in cinema art. ANR described Adurti Subba Rao as a bridge between the old and new generations of directors. He brought changes in story narration, combining the values of the past with the present and narrating a story with the technical advancement. These are all firsts. For ANR the golden period for Telugu cinema was between 1950 and 1970.

ANR is an engineer and architect within himself and a designer too, when it came to the construction of his studios. Annapoorna Studios is one of the best in Asia, with all the facilities, the lack of which in other studios, ANR worked in, put him to inconvenience. He is a man with great sense of discipline and perspicacity. A legend in his own lifetime.