After battling cancer for sometime now, legendary actor Akkineni Nageswara Rao, fondly called as ANR, breathed his last on Wednesday morning. In a career spanning more than seven decades, the actor-producer worked in more than 255 films and was justly known for his acting prowess and range. Here are a few less known facts about the man who was a doyen of Telugu cinema.
* Nageswara Rao was a pioneer in Indian Cinema, ushering one of the first modern studios back in the 1950s. He set up Annapurna Studio back in 1950s which was said to be state-of-the-art and ahead of its time.
* Before Dilip Kumar got down to essaying the legendary role of Devdas in auteur Bimal Ray’s celebrated reproduction of the Bengali classic, it was Nageswara Rao who played the role in Telugu film called Devadasu. Dilip Kumar himself believed that Rao’s Devdas was much superior to his own.
* Actor Sanjeev Kumar played nine different characters in Naya Din, Nayi Raat. Sanjeev happened to be only the third actor to have done so, with Nagaswara Rao having reprised the role in Navarathri in 1966 and Sivaji Ganesan in 1964 before him.
* While it is a known fact that NT Rama Rao created a space for himself with his mythological roles as Krishna and Rama, it was Nageswara Rao who first took on such roles, playing Lord Rama very early in his career in 1944 in Seeta Rama Jananam.
* Along with D Rama Naidu, NT Rama Rao and T Rama Rao, Nageswara Rao formed the big four of the Telugu film industry.