Give me strength, not sympathies, says the legendary actor to his fans, friends and relatives

Legendary actor Akkineni Nageswara Rao on Saturday announced that he was diagnosed with cancer of the intestine and in a strong voice, asked his fans, friends and relatives to give him strength so he could live till a 100 years.

Many in the audience comprising film journalists at the Annapurna Studios were reminded of yesteryear hits ‘Devadas’, ‘Premnagar’ and ‘Premabhishekham’, all with Mr. Nageswara Rao in the lead role, struggling with different types of cancer. The announcement came in the presence of most of his family members, including four children and a dozen grandchildren. It was one press conference where he proclaimed that he would not like to entertain any questions on the matter.

“I don’t want your sympathy but am banking on the strength that I derive from all your wishes. Leave me alone,” the 91 year-old actor said. As the truth of message hit those at the Annapurna Studios, most journalists taking notes looked around to catch the expression on the faces of others in the Akkineni family. Those present included Nagarjuna, Venkat, Nagachaitanya, Sumanth, Supriya, Sushant, Amala, Susheela, and Akhil

He said eminent oncologist from the USA, Nori Dattatreyudu had confirmed the diagnosis recently. In a monologue that lasted about 25 minutes, he recalled his seven decades and about 280 films as an actor from his debut ‘Dharmapathni’ directed by P. Pullaiah in 1941 first and in the lead with ‘Sri Sitarama Jananamu’ directed by Ghantasala Balaramaiah in 1944.

“My mother Punnamma lived till 96 years of age and till now that was my benchmark. But now if people love me, bless me and cooperate with me, I will live till a 100 years,” the actor said. He is currently working on ‘Manam’ that has three generations of the Akkineni family in the star cast - Nageswara Rao, Nagarjuna and Nagachaitanya. When asked, Nagarjuna said 60 per cent of the film was canned. Shortly after the press conference, the thespian sauntered into the sets of ‘Manam’ as others prepared for the shooting.

On the sidelines though, Mr. Nagarjuna and Mr. Venkat said that about a week ago, he had called all the younger women and told them that he did not wish to see concern-filled, sullen faces any more. “We respect his wish to see happiness around him,” said Mr. Nagachaitanya.