Nagarjuna Akkineni

  • Actor, Writer, Producer

Aug 29, 1959  in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India

Also Known as: Akkineni Nagarjuna

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Known nationwide for his critically acclaimed performances in biographical and historical films, Nagarjuna Akkineni is a Telugu actor and producer who has been honored with multiple National Awards, Nandi Awards and Filmfare Awards (South). The son of yesteryear Tollywood legend Akkineni Nageswara Rao, Nagarjuna`s career spans well over three decades, in the course of which he has appeared in over a hundred films, besides producing several. Some of Nagarjuna`s most memorable performances have come in movies like Gitanjali (1989), Ninne Pelladatha (1996), Annamayya (1997), Azad (2000), Santosham (2002) and more recently, Oopiri (2016). Besides these, he has also appeared in a handful of Bollywood films.

At the Delhi Film Festival`s 100 Years of Indian Cinema`s celebration, in 2013, Nagarjuna was chosen to represent the `Cinema of South India` section. The actor ventured into film production with Annapurna Studios, which he started with his brother Venkat Akkineni.

Along with his wife Amala, Nagarjuna is the founder of Blue Cross of Hyderabad, an animal welfare society. He is also the face for various HIV/AIDS awareness initiatives and works closely with TeachAIDS, a nonprofit founded at Stanford University.

Born to Nageswara Rao Akkineni and Annapurna Akkineni in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, Nagarjuna moved to Hyderabad for his education. He completed his schooling from Hyderabad Public School and Little Flower Junior College, respectively. For his graduation, he joined a university in Eastern Michigan but completed only one year his industrial engineering degree along with MBA. He later got a master`s degree in automobile engineering at San Jose State University.

The actor married Lakshmi Daggubati in 1984. Lakshmi, daughter of D. Ramanaidu, a prominent film-maker, and sister of the actors Venkatesh and Suresh Babu, belonged to an illustrious film family in Hyderabad. However, the couple parted ways after six years of marriage, in 1990. They have a son together, Naga Chaitanya, who is also an actor. In 1992, Nagarjuna married actress Amala Mukherjee, with whom he has a son named Akhil Akkineni.

Nagarjuna made his debut as a lead with V. Madhusudhana Rao`s 1996 action drama Vikram. A remake of the Hindi film Hero, the movie was declared a box office hit. Cashing on the success of his maiden film, he appeared in films like Majnu (1987), Sankeertana (1987), Aakhari Poratam (1988), and Janaki Ramudu (1988). In 1989, he starred in the National Award winning film Geetanjali. Directed by Mani Ratnam, the film opened to a very positive commercial as well as critical response. Following this, he starred in another career milestone Siva. Directed by Ram Gopal Varma, the film chronicles the political life of a college student. The movie catapulted Nagarjuna to further stardom and also marked his Hindi movie debut in the form of the remake of the same film titled Shiva. He then starred in Bollywood movies like Khuda Gawah (1992), Drohi (1992), Criminal (1994), and Mr. Bechara (1996).

In 1996, he starred and produced the Telugu romance drama Ninne Pelladata. Co-starring Tabu opposite him, the blockbuster film received the National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Telugu, and Filmfare Award for Best Film - Telugu that year. The subsequent year, he featured in another National and Filmfare Award winning film Annamayya, which was directed by K. Raghavendra Rao. With this movie, began his association with biographical and historical cinema. He essayed 15th-century composer in Annamacharya, a Major in the 2003 war film LOC Kargil, a 17th-century composer in the 2006 film Sri Ramadasu, and Sai Baba of Shirdi in the 2012 film Shirdi Sai.

Amidst this, he played Raman Desai in Mahesh Bhatt`s Hindi drama film Zakhm. Co-starring Ajay Devgn, Pooja Bhatt, and Sonali Bendre, the movie bagged the Nargis Dutt Award for Best Feature Film on National Integration. Returning to Telugu cinema, he appeared in movies like Ravoyi Chandamama (1999), Azad (2000), Bava Nachadu (2001), Santosham (2002), Boss - I Love You (2006), Greeku Veerudu (2013), Sri Jagadguru Aadi Sankara (2013), Manam (2014), and Soggade Chinni Nayana.

In 2016, Nagarjuna essayed the role of a quadriplegic in the comedy-drama Oopiri, which was a remake of the 2011 French film The Intouchables. The film opened to critical acclaim and was declared a box office hit, with praises pouring in from all quarters for the actor`s nuanced performance. The biographical drama Om Namo Venkatesaya (2017) and the horror comedy Raju Gari Gadhi 2 (2017) followed in the next year, though neither of them managed to make a major impact at the box office despite the mixed to positive critical response. In 2018, Nagarjuna reunited with Ram Gopal Varma for the action crime film Officer, which proved to be a disappointment both critically and commercially. Among the actor`s other recent projects is the multi-starrer Deva Daasu (2018), where he starred alongside Nani. Besides these, he also produced movies like Rangula Raatnam and Chi La Sow in 2018. His 2019 releases include Manmadhudu 2.