Another quote, in a different context: “Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer. ” – Michael Corleone in the movie ‘The Godfather II’
ANR garu is a part of our family’s legacy. My grandfather introduced his movies, and my father took it forward. He would figure a lot in our conversations and interestingly as I grew more movies-aware, the topics were about his off-screen persona rather than his on-screen avatars. (His morning walks with with his friends in Banjara Hills; His outside appearances without make-up; His affinity for literature; his trademark dress etc.) For a star of his stature, this is a rare feat and a very few like Mr.Rajnikanth managed it.
When my father began his TV career, he would interact with ANR every now and then. He actually had to request ANR to make an exception and allow him to shoot in the Annapurna studios, which was meant for movie kind of budgets. He would be amazed by ANR’s vision and his simplicity when it came to supporting fellow creative artists and entrepreneurs. (You will find a few videos from the serial that were shot in the sets erected in Annapurna Studios http://www.youtube.com/agastyasastry)
My father would often talk about the ‘effort’ ANR in portraying the character, all the while, aware about his limits and strengths. He is probably the best any playback singer could ask for. A few examples here, often quoted by my father, where he matched the out-of-the-world singing of the legend ‘Ghantasala’
Rasikaraja from ‘Jayabheri’ (iPad users click here )
Paduta teeyaga from ‘Mooga mansulu’ (iPad users click here )
Carulo Shikarukelle from ‘Todikodallu’ (iPad users click here )
It will be next to impossible to summarize all my conversations with my father or extol the greatness of the legend ANR. So, am listing a few movies that stayed with me over the years.
- Premabhishekam: It was the first ANR movie I remember watching in the theater (in Sudarshan, Hyderabad). I can never forget the whistles for his dances and the teary eyes of the audience towards the end. (A lady behind our row, was crying and cursing Sridevi, at the same time.)
- Iddaru Mithrulu: One of the best double role films ever and an effortless portrayal by ANR. The poster with two ANRs shaking hands with each was a sensation in those days.
- Jayabheri : Everything is classy about the film and ANR tops the list.
- Mahakavi Kalidasu: ANR’s depiction of the transformation from an illiterate to a renowned poet is seen to be believed. Special mention about his scenes where he does not recognize his wife.
- Iddaru Iddare: Though this movie did not do well at box-office, ANR’s performance stands out, so does a song with his son Nagarjuna.
- Missamma: It is very tough for a leading hero to perform in a comic role, and ANR does it with elan. (In the later years, Megastar Chiranjeevi matched this feat with ‘Chantabbai’)
- Mayabazar : As a part of an ensemble cast, he holds his own.
- Sudigundalu: A film that was produced by ANR and the great director Adurti Subba Rao. In the character of an old judge turned lawyer, he carries the film on his shoulders and delivers a power packed performance.
But my all time favorite is this lesser known, or may be less talked about film, called ‘Pranadata’, one of the best works of director Mohan Gandhi.
Pranadaata- Full Movie. (iPad users click here )
I can go on and on about ANR and my father, so will sign off for now. ANR garu will surely be missed, but his songs and movies will continue to entertain, enlighten and enrich our lives.
See you soon sir, on screen. Goodbye, until then.