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On Akkineni Nageswara Rao’s 100th birth anniversary, SS Rajamouli recalls interaction with legendary actor: ‘I treasure those moments’

One of the tallest figures in the history of Telugu cinema, Akkineni Nageswara Rao (ANR) graced the screen in over 250 films in Telugu, Tamil, and Hindi during his illustrious 75-year career. He earned numerous prestigious awards, including all three Padma honours, the Dada Saheb Phalke Award, and multiple Nandi awards.

To commemorate his 100th birth anniversary, a grand event took place in Hyderabad on Wednesday, attended by revered figures from the Telugu film industry, who paid their respects to the legendary ANR.

During the function held at Annapurna Studios in Telangana’s capital city, former Vice-President of India M Venkaiah Naidu unveiled a golden statute of ANR.

Speaking on the occasion, RRR director SS Rajamouli spoke warmly about the iconic actor, expressing his admiration for ANR since childhood. Although he only had a few chances to meet his hero, Rajamouli fondly recalled one such occasion when he had the privilege of spending a few precious minutes with ANR. “I treasure those moments,” he noted.

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Check out pictures from Akkineni Nageswara Rao’s centenary celebrations

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Rajamouli also shared an interesting anecdote from his conversation with ANR. During their interaction, he enquired why ANR, despite his stature as a leading hero, played a comedian’s role in Missamma (1955). Rajamouli said that ANR explained he took on that role out of interest because, after his performance in Devadasu (1953), he had been consistently cast in roles as drunkard and wanted to break free from that stereotype.

Rajamouli went on to express his deep respect for ANR, admiring the confidence ANR displayed in taking on a comedic role, despite being a superstar and that too alongside another lead actor.

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Born on September 20, 1923, in Ramapuram, Akkineni Nageswara Rao made his debut in the lead role by playing Lord Rama in Sri Seeta Rama Jananam (1944). Though he was known for playing mythological figures, ANR was an atheist. He established Annapurna Studios, named after his wife, in 1975. The couple have five children, including Telugu superstar Nagarjuna. ANR passed away on January 22, 2014.

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