Dr. Akkineni Nageswara Rao Interview (ANR)
Dr. Akkineni Nageswara Rao won several prestigious awards during his lifetime, including Padma Shri, Padma Bhushan, Dadasaheb Phalke Award, Raghupati Venkaiah Award, and many others.
Unsurprisingly, the Telugu audience affectionately referred to him as Nata Samrat.
Despite winning many awards and accolades, he remained humble, and besides that, he was a great philosopher and performer. On September 20, this living legend celebrated his birthday.
Here are the excerpts of Akkineni Nageswara Rao Interview:
Tell us about your childhood and your entry into the films…
I had a fruitful 84 years of life and 66 years of filmy life. As far as I know, the details you asked me about are well-known to the public, and there is nothing new to share. Ours is a poor farmer’s family. After completing Class V, I did not continue my education.
We did not have any girls in our family, so my mother used to dress me like a girl and enjoyed herself with that. Eventually, that helped me to play female characters in stage plays. It was through stage plays that I emerged as a heroine.
Once I return after performing Tenali. My first career break came when Pratibha Pictures’ Ghantasala Balaramaiah noticed me at Bajawada station (presently Vijayawada) and booked me for the role of Kalyanarama in Sri Seeta Rama Jananam.
It was my first film as an artist on the screen, but I played a guest role in ‘Dharmapatni’ starring Santakumari and Bhanumati. As an artist, I entered the film industry in 1944 and continued working until 2007.
In case you failed to become an artist, what would you have been?
Had I not become a film artiste, I would have spent my life tilling the land in our native place, Ramapuram, as I was born in a poor farmers’ family.
What are your feelings after so many years of an acting career?
You see, my life, especially my film career and present stature, has not come on a platter, but I earned this on my own. In my 66 years of film career, I played different roles and lived in them.
It was a blessing to me that the audience noticed my hard work. I would like to thank the film industry and my fans in particular for endowing me with this position, as well as for showing me their affection and blessings.
Not only me but also my family. The late Ghantasala Balaramaiah’s soul feels very happy as the seed sown by him has grown like a tree.
Could you tell us a little bit about your films and what you liked most about them?
Throughout my career, I have played the hero role in over 256 Telugu and 26 Tamil films. A total of 80 percent of these films were hit. Each film is like a Ph.D. for me.
My education ended in Class V, so I don’t have any degrees. But each film I played was a teacher for me and taught me several points. The Bengali novel ‘Swayam Siddha,’ written by Asha Purna, was adapted into a Telugu film ‘Ardhangi’.
In that film, the wife salutes her husband by touching his feet in a first night scene. Later, the husband also compliments his wife by touching her feet. In that film, I played the role of such an innocent husband.
Likewise, I played the role of ‘Gopi,’ who doesn’t know about selfishness in ‘Mooga Manasulu‘ movie. This movie taught me what a gentleman should be like. As a teenager in ‘Dasara Bullodu,’ I played the jolly youth who enjoys life with his combined family. I appeared in that movie as an innocent village boy.
In ‘Bharya Bhartalu,’ I played the role of a luxurious youth. During that film, the hero is slapped by a girl. This irks him to the point that he marries her without hesitation. As a result of her challenge, the hero could enjoy her physical body but not her soul.
Afterward, he, too, challenges her to accept him only as a husband after she invites him into her life. Similarly, I portrayed a cowardly lover in “Devadasu,” a film where the hero couldn’t accept the heroine’s love out of fear of his father and eventually committed suicide. Several things have been taught to me by these films and their morals.
Sir, please tell me about your character in the ‘Tenali Ramakrishna’ film…
Tenali Ramakrishna’s structure has been altered in various ways by various authors, but the exact nature of his teaching has remained a mystery.
But in that film, the molding of the character is excellent. Ramakrishna’s intelligence and close bond with Kalika Devi were clearly explained during the discourse.
The fact that he was not only able to save the prestige of the country several times with poetry but also his intelligence makes him a truly remarkable person.
In my role, I played the part of a patriot who showed that he was a man of high character.
What about ‘Mahakavi Kalidasu’?
Kalidasu is referred to as a fool because he cuts the tree’s branch upon which he sits. One such fool turns a prominent poet and litterateur after Kalika Devi writes ‘Beejakshara’ on his tongue.
There were many different variations and shades of the role, such as the role of the fool, the innocent, and later the role of the litterateur.
I am quite fortunate that I got the opportunity to play such significant roles. Though I did not study much, I was able to get compliments as a great artiste like Valmiki.
What is your opinion on progressive movies?
Would you say that my film ‘Sudigundalu‘ was not progressive in its approach?
It was discussed in detail how the children would spoil if their parents did not adequately monitor them. Likewise, ‘Maro Prapancham‘ is also a progress movie. During those days, we envisioned the future generation and brought out those two films.
What is the part of an artiste in the entire film?
It has been estimated that one artiste will only contribute 8% of the entire movie while the other actors will do the rest. Even if an artiste did not do perfectly, it doesn’t matter.
But he should not spoil the remaining part. However, the teamwork of the entire film unit would reach the audiences only through the artiste, which is why we have this much glamour. The performance by an artiste is just negligible but has great value.
What is the reason behind your happiness? Your evergreen glamour has a secret; what is it? Tell us about the secret behind your health.
My answer to your first question — Not only for my happiness but for that matter for anybody’s happiness, he should have satisfaction. Whenever you are satisfied, he will definitely be happy—next, the ever-green hero. It was not my intention to be an evergreen hero, but I was made into one by the audience.
When I start talking about my health, you will be surprised at how I am still living. I suffered a heart attack in 1974. I underwent bypass surgery on my heart on October 18, 1974. Again, I suffered a heart attack in 1988. Despite their failures, the doctors were able to save my life.
You will be surprised if I say that my heart can pump only 35 percent more blood than a normal heart. However, the audience’s affection, love, and blessings did not allow me to die.
We wish you live for more than 100 years, play many memorable roles,, and live happily with good health. I would like to take this opportunity to wish you many happy returns of the day once again.
The same goes for me. I wish your wish came true. Thank you very much.