In moments of reflection , I am amazed at the course my life had taken. Eight decades of trials and tribulations, agony and ecstasy reels through my mind. A career that I had never anticipated- rare and unique , laced with opportunity and challenges at every stage. A past that had transformed my psyche of simple farm hand into one in a sophisticated ambience of Art.
The arduous trek, from my village to an incomplete schooling, the responsibilities of household chores as the youngest child, visit to the green meadows stretching into the horizon. What was my destiny? My life was the answer. Hard work, commitment, sincerity and integrity-values that would never fail any individual.
I was rewarded at every stage in my life. Arrived at Madras, with an obscure sense of anticipation, euphoria and hope, on the 8th day of May,1944 into the punch of cultural shock. It was not disappointing but a revelation. It invariably presented me with the right path at every step. Was it luck or determination? I surmise it is a combination of both.
I was accepted, encouraged and elevated in the developing world of Cinema. From time to time, I was offered roles that reflected the trend of those times-a folk lore hero, a social heart throb, a romantic Prince or a tortured soul driven into a drunken tragedy. Over 250 films since 1940 - a good portion of them adequately satisfying the audience for their money.
Every success vindicated my confidence and every challenge motivated me to face adversity with courage and determination. I had the great privilege in partnering the development of Telugu Film Industry. The stakeholders reposed unflinching faith in me and offered me challenging roles without hesitation . Success gushed forth in a abundance - fame and awards followed.
The world of Cinema has made me what I am today - a hero and, more importantly, an individual. The invitation, by the United States of America, Britain, Paris, Germany, Russia, as an ambassador of Indian Cinema and to have lead film delegations to various countries exposed me to the world of different cultures. It had broadened my horizon and imparted a certain clarity of thought. I have a close - knit family - a noble wife, able children and affectionate grandchildren all a source of joy. What else does one want.
Where are these gifts from? For some they were God’s ; for me they were a blessing of my foster mother - the silver screen. The Industry nurtured me as a wide eyed teenager. It taught me discipline and the facts of life, both as an artiste and an individual. To her I owe a debt that I cannot repay, whatever from it may be in.
I was invited in 1991 to Delhi to receive Dada Saheb Phalke Award. The imposing hall, in all its regalia, was adorned with several dignitaries. I climbed those steps to the dais with humility and respect to the greeted by the President of India, Shri R. Venkatraman. Those were poignant moments and a sense of gratitude pervaded my being - gratitude for my industry that had me facing the Nation, response by it’s President.
The awards I received earlier - Padmasri and Padmabhushan, Raghupathi Venkaiah award and NTR National Film Award from the Government of Andhra Pradesh, Anna Award from the Government of Tamilnadu, Kalidasa Kousthub Award from the Government of Madhya Pradesh, Grate Son of the Soil award from All India Conference of Intellectuals, Meerut, Honorary Doctorates from Universities and many more were given to me as an Artiste. However, this Award was also for my contribution to the development of the Film Industry.
It was during these moments that a thought struck me. I had to pay obeisance to the industry. I should institute an Award as a token offering towards a debt of gratitude that I owe. I had similar feelings earlier. I had missed formal education which has left me longing for it. I , therefore , donated to establish a college, Akkineni Nageswara Rao College, near my native place. Instituted scholarships in al