ANR and Sr NTR are like two eyes for the Telugu Film Industry. One cannot decide which eye is more important or give more preference to only one! However, there was lot of competition between them in a personal level. Was this created by themselves or by their fans? This debate can be welcomed because it did lot of good to the Film Industry.
Somebody asked ANR in an interview , “What did you learn from Sr.NTR?”. ANR got really irritated with the question and fumed up saying, “What nonsense? What should I learn from him? He came to the film industry after I did!”. Keeping ANRs fury aside, he spoke a fact. Even before Sr NTR debuted as an actor, ANR was already an established actor in the film industry. He worked with stalwarts and scored hits. It was Nagaiah who was highest paid in the industry those days. ANR graced the second highest paid actor category. By the time Sr NTR debuted in Telugu Cinema, ANRs remuneration was Rs.35,000/-. Right from then, there was a competition between the remunerations of these two stars. Despite few highs and lows, the remuneration has been almost equal.
Sr NTR is extremely handsome and tall. He can be looked great when seen in any angle with his photogenic face. His voice is commanding and he undoubtedly had all the requirements of a great hero. ANR on the other hand is completely opposite. With small eyes, short height, and paled down voice, ANR knows his shortcomings very well. He understood that he can compete with Sr NTR only with his talent. He rigorously researched on which sort of roles suit him best and which stories can have him flawlessly. Character and story selection made ANR stand out as a unique star. Sr NTR is undeniably brilliant in mythological films and nobody could claim his position there. ANR on the other hand is breathtakingly good in Social drama films. At one moment, ANR excelled in Folklore films like Keelugurram and Baalaraju as well. But when Sr NTR proved himself to be unquestionable in folklore with success of Paatala Bhairavi, ANR took a back seat. He realized his biggest strength and completely turned to Social Drama films. He gave life to historic films like Vipranarayana and Devadasu.
ANR and Sr NTR shared the same screen in films like Samsaram, Palletoori Pilla, Parivartrana, Missamma, Tenali Ramakrishna, Charana Dasi, Bhookailas, Mayabazar, Gundamma Kadha, Krishnarjuna Yuddham, Chanakya Chandragupta and so on. In Parivartana ANR acted as a villain opposite Sr NTR. Nobody even thought of who acted better in these films. The main reason behind this is- the actors were totally the characters but not themselves. This great credit goes to these two actors alone.
Sr NTR had an advantage of having big production houses in his control. He used to work under Vijaya Productions for monthly salary. He used to work in AVM production house as well. ANR requested to act in Missamma with the only intention to work in a big production house and experiment in roles as an actor.
Many people don’t like the debate of who is better- ANR or Sr NTR. How can one compare Tenali Ramakrishna with Emperor Sri Krishnadevaraya? Or Abhimanyu and Lord Krishna?
They are totally different characters and each of them was brilliant in their own way. Sr NTR and ANR have an equal fan base. However, Sr NTR has more of mass image and women audience always liked ANR more. Women find ANR admirable for his natural acting, looks, performance in songs, Romantic Image and histrionics. The youth of those days crazily admired ANR and tried to imitate his style as well.
Finally, the competition between ANR and Sr NTR aided them in personal level too. They could make better films competing with each other. ANRs mom used to like Sr NTR and used to feel both of them are her sons. There were days when Nagarjuna used to stand in queue for tickets of a Sr NTR film. There is absolutely no debate or question regarding who is better among ANR and Sr NTR. They are Emperors of Telugu Cinema. Just like Sivaji Ganeshan and MGR in Tamil Cinema, it is ANR and Sr NTR in Telugu Cinema. After MGR’s advent in Politics, Sivaji Ganeshan’s marathon reduced in Tamil Films. The same applied to Telugu Films when Sr NTR ventured into politics and a slight decline of ANR’s superstardom. This is why real talent comes out in a competing environment.