HYDERABAD (TIP): Legendary Telugu actor and film producer Akkineni Nageswara Rao, also known as ANR, died January 22 in Hyderabad at the age of 90. Dada Saheb Phalke Award winner ANR, who is the father of famous Telugu actor Nagarjuna, had been battling cancer for several months.

He had in October last year told media that he was diagnosed with cancer and that he would fight it till the end. Nageswara Rao, who recently underwent a surgery for intestinal cancer, is survived by three daughters and two sons. His funeral on January 23 was attended by thousands of grieving admirers.

The Telugu film industry wants a monument to be constructed for Akkineni Nageswara Rao on the premises of Annapurna Studios which he founded. Paying respect to ANR, Movie Artistes Association (MAA) president M Murali Mohan said it would be appropriate to have a monument near ANR’s museum where his awards are located. “We have made a suggestion to the family about it,” he said. Meanwhile, as a mark of respect, the film industry cancelled all shootings for two days.

Thousands of grieving admirers of Akkineni Nageswara Rao joined the funeral procession on January 23, 2014

Mohan said an appeal has also been made to theatre owners to stop screenings and cancel shows on Thursday, January 23. Throughout the day, condolences and praises flooded in for the late actor from his Tollywood and Bollywood colleagues and politicians. Dadasaheb Phalke award winner D Rama Naidu said ANR had always adopted a discipline towards his work and life. “It used to be a pleasure working with him,” he said.

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Union minister for tourism Chiranjeevi said he had met ANR only a couple of weeks ago and spent nearly an hour with him. “I want to hit a century with the best wishes of the people,” ANR reportedly told him. “It is sad that he is no more,” Chiranjeevi said. He also recalled how his mother was a big fan of ANR and how when she was pregnant she wanted to watch a film. “My father was concerned. However, she did go to watch the movie in which ANR had acted,” he said, adding that his mother gave birth to a boy a few days later. “That boy was me,” he reminisced.

Filmmaker S S Rajamouli said he was “saddened by the news of the legendary Nageswararao garu.” “He stood as a towering father figure for the Telugu film industry. Irreparable loss,” he said. Tributes also poured in from other parts of the country. Veteran actor Amitabh Bachchan tweeted: “Another great iconic legend of cinema passes away this morning: Nageshwar Rao, of Telugu cinema, a most affable considerate human!” Actor Anupam Kher described ANR as “an actor, a gentleman and a cinematic phenomenon”. “Have learnt a lot from him,” he . “He was not just a great artist but a wonderful human being.

I had the opportunity to meet him four years ago… I had received an award from him. May god bless his soul and I pray for his family,” 84-year-old singer Lata Mangeshkar tweeted. Several political leaders also joined in paying tributes. Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi described ANR as “one of Indian cinema’s stalwarts who will be remembered for his rich contribution. Saddened by his demise. RIP.” Union minister of state for information and broadcasting Manish Tewari recalled that he had met Nageshwar Rao in Hyderabad last January, describing it as an “inspirational experience”.

BJP leader Rajnath Singh said Nageshwar Rao’s contribution to Indian cinema would always be cherished. TDP president N Chandrababu Naidu also said he was grieved beyond words at the demise of ‘legend’ ANR. “An era comes to an end. Great actor & a great human being,” he said on a social networking site. Naidu also visited Annapurna Studios to pay tributes to actor. In New York, Rao Anumolu, President, CEO & Founder at ASR International Corporation, a close friend of late ANR, said he was deeply saddened to hear of ANR’s death and that whereas in his death, Telugus had lost a great actor and a fine human being, for him it was the loss of a close friend and end of an era.

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