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Doyen of Telugu films dead

Nageswara Rao

Hyderabad, Jan. 22 (PTI): Actor Akkineni Nageswara Rao, Telugu star Nagarjuna’s father who was once compared to NTR in a seven-decade career that began with him playing a woman, died today. He was 91.

Rao, who suffered from cancer, passed away in his sleep at his home here. He had acted in over 250 films, one of whose highlights was his portrayal of Devdas in the Telugu version of the film with the same name.

Dilip Kumar, who essayed the role in the 1955 Hindi classic, had remarked “that there was only one Devdas and that is Nageswara Rao”.

A Dada Saheb Phalke award winner, Rao had also acted in Tamil films. He had recently completed Manam (meaning us), a Telugu home production starring three generations of his family — himself, Nagarjuna and grandson Naga Chaitanya.

Popular as ANR, he was instrumental in bringing the Telugu film industry to Hyderabad from erstwhile Madras that was then the movie hub of the south. He established Annapurna Studios, named after his wife, who died in 2011.

Rao started as a stage artiste and made his film debut in the early 1940s with Dharmapatni, in which he acted as a woman.

“Another great iconic legend of cinema passes away… a most affable considerate human!” Amitabh Bachchan tweeted.