Nata Samrat Akkineni Nageswara Rao is celebrating his birthday today.Akkineni Nageswara Rao was born into a poor farmer's family on 20 September 1924 at Venkataraghava Puram,Ramapuram, Krishna District.He has stated on record in several interviews that his education was limited to primary schooling due to his parents' poor economic conditions. Nageswara Rao took to acting at a very early age. He started acting in street plays at the age of nine.Indian plays in those days used to have an all male cast and male leads often played female roles (as evidenced in the first Indian feature film, Raja Harishchandra).In his early days as an actor, Nageswara Rao used to enact such female roles on stage.
Nageswara Rao's first Telugu film was Dharmapatni in 1941, wherein he played the role of one of the main lead's childhood friends.He later continued his career as a part-time stage actor and acted in several Telugu plays such as Ashoka Jyothy, Sathyanveshana and Telugu Talli.On one such occasion, when he was travelling back from a play in Tenali, he was spotted in the Vijayawada railway station by Ghantasala Balaramaiah, a popular film producer of that time, and was immediately offered the lead role in his upcoming movie Seetha Rama Jananam. He played the role of Lord Rama in that film.
In a career spanning over 78 years in the Telugu film industry, he has played the lead role in over 256 Telugu films and 26 Tamil films. Several of these films turned out to be financial and critical successes.Among other things, Nageswara Rao is credited for influencing Telugu film producers and creating a base for Telugu films in Hyderabad.
ANR was one of the actors of that period who insisted on creating a base for Telugu films in Hyderabad and established his own production studio, Annapurna Studios, to facilitate this.
ANR has acted in several landmark Telugu films. Some of his prominent films are Tenali Rama Krishna, Kalidasu, Devadasu, Mayabazar, Missamma, Dr. Chakravarthi, Ardhangi, Muga Manasulu, Dasara Bullodu, Prem Nagar and Premabhishekam. The film Premabhishekam directed by Dasari Narayana Rao is one of the biggest hits in Tollywood. It had an amazing 533 days run in Hyderabad City, which is still the highest run in a city for any Telugu movie. Premabhishekam is the only Telugu film to have run for 365+ days continuously.
Nageswara Rao has worked in several genres of films in his 78-year acting career, including mythological, social, and drama films. Nageswara Rao has been active in the Telugu film industry since 1941 and is the recipient of the Dada Saheb Phalke Award, the highest award for films in India. He received in 1996 the NTR National Award.He is also a recipient of Padmashri, Padmabhushan and Padma Vibhushan awards and Filmfare Best Actor Award (Telugu).