Legendary Telugu actor and film producer Akkineni Nageswara Rao also known as ANR died early morning in Hyderabad today at the age of 90. Dada Saheb Phalke Award winner ANR, who is the father of famous Telugu actor Nagarjuna, had been battling cancer for several months. He had in October last year told media that he was diagnosed with cancer and that he would fight it till the end.
Akkineni Nageswara Rao had a lively chat with family members last night and died in his sleep, the legendary actor’s son Nagarjuna said. He was rushed to the super-speciality Care Hospitals at Banjara Hills, where the doctors declared him dead.
Nageswara Rao, who recently underwent a surgery for intestinal cancer, is survived by three daughters and two sons.
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Known for his strong will power and positive attitude, he himself declared his illness to the public last year and appealed to the fans to take it in their stride. The body of Nageswara Rao was kept at Annapurna Studios, established by him, to enable people to pay their last respects.
ANR, who had a stature on par with late N T Rama Rao, was one of the earliest stars of the black and white era. Born in Krishna district of Coastal Andhra Pradesh, he
started his career as a stage artiste and made his film debut in early 1940s with ‘Dharmapatni’, in which he acted as a woman.
He went on to give huge hits such as ‘Batasari’, ‘Devadas’ and ‘Prem Nagar’, ‘Tenali Ramakrishna’, ‘Maya Bazaar’, ‘Missamma’ and ‘Sitaramayya gari Manavaralu’. He earned fame for his poignant portrayal of ‘Devdas’ in the film based on the novel of acclaimed Bengali author Sarat Chandra Chatterjee.
ANR played a pioneering role in shifting the Telugu film industry from Chennai to Hyderabad and established Annapurna Studios, named after his wife, which helped the
cause in no small measure.
Several producers recall that he pressed them to shift base to Hyderabad for making films with him.
ANR recently completed shooting for his home production ‘Manam’ which casts three generations of the family — himself, Nagarjuna and his grandson Naga Chaitanya. In fact, dubbing facilities had been set up at his residence as he wanted to do it himself, family sources said.
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy, Opposition leader N Chandrababu Naidu, YSR Congress president Y S Jaganmohan Reddy and several other leaders and film personalities condoled his death.
Several film personalities paid their last respects to the departed soul. (With PTI inputs)