At 63, he’s one of the most durable stars of Telugu filmdom. When most people have hung up their boots, Akkineni Nagarjuna continues to give actors half his age, a run for their money.
A scion of the Akkineni family, Nagarjuna has built up on the position and goodwill that his father, the late thespian Nageswara Rao had acquired in his lifetime.
Born on August 29, 1959, in Chennai, Nagarjuna has literally been an actor all his life. He was first seen on screen as an eight-month-old toddler in his father’s movie, ‘Velugu Needalu’.
He first featured as a child artiste in ‘Sudigundalu’ in 1967. And then, after a stint abroad for studies in Michigan, USA, Nagarjuna returned home to embark on a career in movies.
His debut movie, ‘Vikram’ a Telugu remake of Subhash Ghai’s ‘Hero’ released in 1986 was recieved well by the masses as well as critics. But it was with ‘Shiva’ that Nagarjuna really came into his own. The directorial debut of Ram Gopal Varma which remains a benchmark to this day, made several careers in Tollywood.
In fact, throughout his career, Nagarjuna has been known to give a break to many an actor and director. ‘Bahubali’ lead actor Anushka Shetty also happens to be one of Nagarjuna’s discoveries. Nagarjuna has said that working with new talents allows him to explore the limits of his own abilities apart from preventing monotony to set in.
Industry observers attribute Nagarjuna’s success to his willingness to experiment with diverse characters.
From lover boy roles movies like ‘Criminal’, and ‘Manmathudu’, to family man in ‘Aavidaa maa aavide’, tough gangster in ‘Devadasu’, devotee in ‘Annamayya’, and tough law man in ‘Wild Dog’, and his upcoming project ‘The Ghost’, Nagarjuna has walked the talk with elan.
While South actors are getting noticed in Bollywood only recently, it was Nagarjuna who made a splash long ago with Hindi movies. His Bollywood debut was with the Hindi remake of ‘Siva’. Later he also acted in ‘Criminal and Khuda Gawah, starring Amitabh Bachchan and late Sridevi.
He is among the few actors in Tollywood to play lead roles from the era of giants like late NTR, his father late ANR, Krishna, and Krishnam Raju. Even as his own sons, Naga Chaitanya, and Akhil are making a place for themselves as lead actors in Tollywood, Nagarjuna continues to flourish as a lead actor himself.