Akkineni Nageswara Rao

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Akkineni Nageswara Rao
A.Nageswara Rao.jpg
Akkineni Nageswara Rao in 1951
Born Akkineni Nageswara Rao
(1924-09-20)20 September 1924
Venkata Raghava Puram, Madras Presidency, British India
(now Ramapuram, Krishna Dist, AP, India)
Died 22 January 2014(2014-01-22) (aged 90)
Hyderabad, Telangana, India
Other names Natasamrat, ANR
Occupation Actor, producer, studio owner
Spouse(s) Annapurna Akkineni (1933–2011)
Children Venkat Akkineni
Akkineni Nagarjuna
Sathyavathi Akkineni
Naga Susheela A.
Saroja Akkineni
Relatives Sumanth (grandson)
Sushanth (grandson)
Naga Chaitanya (grandson)
Akhil Akkineni (grandson)
Amala Akkineni (daughter-in-law)

Akkineni Nageswara Rao (20 September 1923 – 22 January 2014) was an Indian film actor and producer, known for his works predominantly in Telugu cinema. He starred in various film genres during his 75-year acting career. Rao acted in over 255 films, spanning Telugu, Tamil and Hindi languages and became one of the most prominent figures in the history of Telugu cinema.[1][2]

He was the instrumental figure in shifting Telugu Cinema industry from Madras, Tamil Nadu to Hyderabad . He shifted his residence from Madras to Hyderabad and dictated his producers to shoot his films at Hyderabad itself, way back in 1963-64. .[3] With an aim to provide infrastructural support to the film industry in Hyderabad, he built a film studio, Annapurna Studios, in 1975. He founded a film and media school, Annapurna International School of Film and Media within Annapurna Studios in 2011.[4]

Nageswara Rao received four state Nandi Awards, and five Filmfare Awards South. Rao is a recipient of the National Dada Saheb Phalke Award, the highest honorary award for cinematic achievements in India. He was honored with the Padma Vibhushan, India's second highest civilian award, for his contribution towards Indian cinema.[5][6][7][8]

Film career[edit]

In 1941, at the age of 17, Nageswara Rao made his debut in the Telugu film, Dharmapatni, in which he played the role of the protagonist's friend.[9] ANR, as he's referred to, was discovered by chance at the Vijayawada railway station by the film producer, Ghantasala Balaramaiah, and was offered the lead role of Lord Rama in his upcoming movie Seeta Rama Jananam.[9] Before that, he predominantly acted in theatre, many times donning female roles since women weren't allowed on stage at that time.[9][10] He acted in over 255 films, spanning the Telugu, Tamil and Hindi languages and became one of the most prominent figures in the history of Telugu cinema.[1] A majority of his films were both commercial and critical successes.[11]

Among other things, Rao is credited for influencing Telugu film producers and creating a base for Telugu films in Hyderabad. The Telugu film industry, in its early days, was based out of Madras (now Chennai) in Tamil Nadu.[3] The new state of Andhra Pradesh was carved out from the Madras Presidency on 1 November 1956 and several leaders opined that in order to create a separate identity for the Telugu film industry, it had to be based out of Hyderabad, the capital of Andhra Pradesh. ANR was one of the first actors of that period who insisted on moving the Telugu film center from Chennai to Hyderabad. He established his own 28 acre production studio/house, named Annapurna Studios after his wife, in the heart of Hyderabad to facilitate this.[4]

Despite being an atheist, Rao acted in various movies with strong religious themes such as Vipranarayana,Tukaram, Sriramadasu, Sriramarajyam etc.[5][6][7][8]

Prominent films[edit]

Rao 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 (1955 film), Batasari, Devadasu,Prem Nagar (1971 film), Premabhishekam (1981 film), " and Meghasandesham. His filsm as Devotee of God, like Vipranarayana, Mahakavi Kalidasu, Bhata Thukaram, Chakradhari earned laurels to him and as an elderly person in Seetharamayya gari manamaralu is one of the best to his credit.

The film Premabhishekam directed by Dasari Narayana Rao is one of the biggest hits in Tollywood. It had a 533-day run in Hyderabad City, the highest run in a city for any Telugu movie. Premabhishekam is the only Telugu film to have run for more than 365 days continuously.[12][13][14]

Nageswara Rao 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. 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 major success at the box office, despite the influx of newer and younger stars.

A feature that won Nageswara Rao 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 is the last film of Akkineni Nageswara Rao, where he shared screen space with his son, Nagarjuna, and grandsons, Naga Chaitanya & Akhil.


Akkineni Nageswara Rao died on 22 January 2014 in Hyderabad at age 90. He is Glamorous Hero of the Century in South India[15]

Dr. ANR had announced on 19 October 2013 that he was diagnosed with colon cancer. In a strong and brave voice, he had asked his fans, friends and relatives to give him strength so he could live for a 100 years. He cheerfully remarked that he wished to live for over 96 years and surpass the record set by his mother.[16]

Dr. ANR had undergone surgery in October 2013 and received chemotherapy thereafter.[17][18] The cancer treatment had weakened him and the recuperation process was very slow due to his age. Though physically weak, he remained mentally sharp and even dubbed for his film Manam, two weeks after his surgery.[19] He attended the foundation day celebrations of Annapurna Studios on January 14, 2014.

His sudden demise a week later had shocked the Film Industry. Since his cancer diagnosis was public knowledge, it was assumed that he had died of cancer. But in reality, ANR had died in his sleep at 1:30am (22 January 2014) due to a heart attack.[20] ANR is known to have a cardiac history and had undergone major cardiac operations in 1974 and 1988 respectively.[17] He was immediately shifted to Care Hospitals but efforts to revive him were unsuccessful.

He was cremated on Thursday afternoon, 23 January 2014, at Annapurna Studios with full police honours amid a 21-gun salute. Thousands of fans, friends and relatives gathered on the sprawling campus to pay their last respects to the departed soul.[21] His death was mourned by fans and film personalities from across the country. Bollywood legend Amitabh Bachchan had said, "Another great iconic legend of cinema passes away this morning: Nageshwar Rao, of Telugu cinema, a most affable considerate human! He leaves behind an incredible legacy".[22] Tamil veteran actor Kamal Haasan had said, "As a star, Dr.ANR has seen three generations. Till the moment he left us, in my eyes, he was a star. We've now lost a star. The sky will be bereft of the brightest star I have known who spoke Telugu, Hindi and Tamil".[22]

In his condolence message, Pranab Mukherjee, President of India had said, "An acclaimed Telugu film actor, producer and writer, Shri Nageswara Rao shall always be remembered for his memorable films. His singular contribution to Indian cinema was recognized through a number of awards. In his death, the film industry has lost a creative personality whose contribution to Telugu cinema remains unparalleled".[23]

Awards and honours[edit]

Civilian honors
National Film Awards
Filmfare Awards South
Nandi Awards
Nandi Award for Best Actor
Other state honours
International honors

Literary works- Apart from being a movie star, ANR was a prolific writer. Some of his books are his autobiographical work, Nenu Na Jeevitham, the memoirs of his first visit to the USA, Nenu Choosina America, and the expression of his thoughts in his book, A Aalu.


ANR was a faithful humanist. Pointing toward the sky, he had once said, "If there's a presence there, I'm sure he'll want us to perform our earthly duties well and be a good human being rather than blindly worship him".[37]

At the pinnacle of his career, he had set up the Akkineni Janmabhoomi trust in order to foster development in his home town, Ramapuram. He strove hard to realise it under the Janmabhoomi programme during the TDP regime. He used his good offices with then Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu and got Rs 8 crore sanctioned from the National Bank for Rural Development and Agriculture (NABARD) for its construction. This bridge, named Akkineni Varadhi (Akkineni bridge), had given a boost to the economy by facilitating easy connectivity to neighbouring towns and villages. In Ramapuram, even safe drinking water was something which was unheard of until Akkineni contributed to the construction of a water tank.[38]

He had instituted the Akkineni International Foundation in 2005 to honour those who had made an immense contribution to the Film Industry.[39] The Annapurna International School of Film and Media, that was founded by the Akkineni family in 2011, was set up as a non-profit entity.

Dr. Akkineni Nageswara Rao has been generous towards educational institutions since the beginning of his career. Even though he didn't have the opportunity to go to school or college, he understood the importance of education. He wanted to create opportunities for any one who needed support for educational pursuits. He created scholarships in various state universities such as GITAM University(Vizag).[40] He was the Chief Donor and President of the College at Gudivada, which was subsequently named after him as Akkineni Nageswara Rao College.[41] Apart from being a Life Member of the Senate of Andhra University, he was also Adviser to its Department of Dramatics and Theatre Arts. He had instituted Gold Medals in Acting and Direction for the Best Student Artists of the department.[42] In 2012, he had instituted the Akkineni Annapurna Educational Trust in memory of his wife Annapurna.[43]

ANR National Award[edit]

When Akkineni Nageswara Rao was honoured with the prestigious Dada Saheb Phalke Award in 1991, he desired to create a similar award in his lifetime. The ANR National Award was instituted by the Akkineni International Foundation in the honour of Dr. Akkineni Nageswara Rao in 2005. The award is given annually to recognize people for their lifetime achievements and contributions to the Indian film industry.[39][44]

Year Awardee Details
2005 Dev Anand Actor, Writer, Director & Producer
Honoured with Memento, Citation & INR 300,000 Cash
2006 Shabana Azmi Actress
Honoured with Memento, Citation & INR 300,000 Cash
2007 Anjali Devi Actress & Producer
Honoured with Memento, Citation & INR 400,000 Cash
2008 Vyjayanthimala Bali Actress, Classical Dancer, Singer, Choreographer
Honoured with Memento, Citation & INR 400,000 Cash
2009 Lata Mangeshkar Playback Singer
Honoured with Memento, Citation & INR 400,000 Cash
2010 K. Balachander Director, Writer, Actor & Producer
Honoured with Memento, Citation & INR 500,000 Cash
2011 Hema Malini Actor, Classical Dancer, Director & Producer
Honoured with Memento, Citation & INR 500,000 Cash
2012 Shyam Benegal Writer, Director, Producer
Honoured with Memento, Citation & INR 500,000 Cash
2013 Sridevi Actress in Bollywood, Telugu and Tamil Cinema
Honoured with Memento, Citation & INR 500,000 Cash
2014 Amitabh Bachchan Actor, Producer, Singer in Bollywood
Honoured with Memento, Citation & INR 500,000 Cash


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Legendary telugu actor ANR passes away at 91". Eenadu. Retrieved 22 January 2014. 
  2. ^ Shankar Dayal Sharma (1997). President Dr. Shanker Dayal Sharma: January 1995-July 1997. Publication Divisions, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India,. p. 74. 
  3. ^ a b Sengupta, Pallavi. "Telugu filmstar Akkineni Nageswara Rao no more – News Oneindia". News.oneindia.in. Retrieved 22 January 2014. 
  4. ^ a b "About Us". Annapurna Studios. 13 August 1975. Retrieved 22 January 2014. 
  5. ^ a b "Akkineni Nageswara Rao lived and breathed cinema". Rediff.com. 22 January 2014. Retrieved 23 Jan 2014. 
  6. ^ a b "Nagarjuna about God". MyFirstShow.com. Retrieved 2014-01-23. 
  7. ^ a b "ANR, Actor Par Excellence, Student and Humanist". Indian Express. 2014-01-23. Retrieved 2014-01-23. 
  8. ^ a b "Romance Is All". Outlook India. 2013-10-14. Retrieved 2014-01-23. 
  9. ^ a b c Video on YouTube[dead link]
  10. ^ Raja-Harishchandra – Trailer – Cast – Showtimes – NYTimes.com
  11. ^ Interview with A. Nageswara Rao – Celebrity Inews, Tollywood Interviews, Telugu Movie Reviews, Telugu Actress Photo Galleries, Movie Galleries, Tollywood Gossip
  12. ^ CineGoer.com – Box-Office Records And Collections – Premabhishekam's Unbeatable Records
  13. ^ Premabhishekam records list
  14. ^ 175–365 days centers list
  15. ^ "Akkineni Nageswara Rao ANR is no more.". 25cineframes.com. Retrieved 22 January 2014. 
  16. ^ "ANR Struck by Cancer of intestine". thehindu.com. 
  17. ^ a b "Evergreen actor ANR has cancer". Times of India. 
  18. ^ "ANR underwent Surgery, Condition remains stable". thehindu.com. 
  19. ^ "ANR dubbed for his film from his death bed". Times of India. 
  20. ^ "Not Cancer, but Heart Attack". Telugu Mirchi. 
  21. ^ "Thousands bid tearful farewell to Akkineni Nageswara Rao". thehindu.com. 
  22. ^ a b "Film personalities pay last respects to ANR". Hindustan times. 
  23. ^ "President of India condoles the passing away of Akkineni Nageswara Rao". Govt of India. 
  24. ^ a b c d "Akkineni Nageswara Rao passes away". The Hindu. Retrieved 22 January 2014. 
  25. ^ "Legendary Telugu Actor Nageswara Rao Passes Away". New Indian Express. Retrieved 22 January 2014. 
  26. ^ "Telugu legend Akkineni Nageswara Rao dies aged 91". ibnlive.in. 
  27. ^ "Legendary Telugu Actor Nageswara Rao Passes Away". One India Entertainment. 
  28. ^ K Rajnikanth. "Doyen of Telugu cinema ANR dies at 91". Business Standard. Retrieved 22 January 2014. 
  29. ^ Collections. Update Video Publication. 1991. p. 395. 
  30. ^ The Times of India Directory and Year Book Including Who's who. Bennett, Coleman. 1980. p. 308. 
  31. ^ http://www.filmfare.com/features/lifetime-achievement-award-south-winners-down-the-years-6684.html
  32. ^ Sainik Samachar: The Pictorial Weekly of the Armed Forces, Volume 40. Government of India. p. 30. 
  33. ^ "Filmfare Awards South - 1995 - Winners & Nominees". 
  34. ^ "Akkineni Nageswara Rao Passed Away". AEG India. Retrieved 22 January 2014. 
  35. ^ Who's who. Rajya Sabha Secretariat, Indian Parliament. 2000. p. 496. 
  36. ^ a b ANR – Telugu cinema stars
  37. ^ "ANR Always". theHindu.com. Retrieved 26 February 2014. 
  38. ^ "Akkineni Varadhi". thehindu.com. 
  39. ^ a b "Entertainment Hyderabad : Such a long journey". The Hindu. 20 January 2006. Retrieved 22 January 2014. 
  40. ^ "2013 Merit Fellowships, GITAM University". Education in India. Retrieved 26 February 2014. 
  41. ^ "ANR College History". ANR College. Retrieved 26 February 2014. 
  42. ^ "Andhra University - Department of Theatre Arts". Andhra University. Retrieved 26 February 2014. 
  43. ^ "ANR @ Akkineni Annapurna Education Trust Press Meet". Bharath Movies. Retrieved 26 February 2014. 
  44. ^ "Anr Awards". Annapurna Studios. 8 May 1944. Retrieved 22 January 2014. 

External links[edit]