Cinema and his life in tinsel world constituted his basic education, more than compensating for the lack of real school education
The golden era of Telugu cinema came to an end with the death of Akkineni Nageswara Rao, who survived three heart surgeries but succumbed to cancer.
His seven-and-a-half-decade-long sojourn in Telugu cinema earned him an admirer in every household. The hangover of his magnum opus Devadas still haunts us. ANR was a director’s actor. Akkineni was an outspoken person in his interviews and public speeches. He did most of the talking, scanning his life’s journey that sounded like a realistic drama. His observations on his life and career were realistic and simple.
ANR’s was a ‘rags to riches’ story that directors like K.V. Reddi would cherish. Some said ANR was a shrewd person and was a critic’s critic, gifted with an analytical mind. He assessed his strengths and weaknesses before accepting his roles, particularly when he had to challenge another stalwart of Telugu cinema N.T. Rama Rao. He stood on a par with him in social themes and, in some roles, surpassed him.
He was journalist-friendly to the extent that he built ‘Critics Cove’ in his studios to interact with journalists. “I love a journalist who mirrors the true faults in me and my performances,” he said. Occasionally, ANR became philosophical.
He once said: “What would have happened to me, had Ghantasala Balaramaiah travelling in a train not noticed me on the railway platform! It was a matter of chance that I came into his view and that moment changed my destiny.”