Akkineni Nageswara Rao, hailed as a cultural icon in the Telugu language cinema of south India, has died in his sleep. He was 91.

The thespian had been suffering from cancer and died after months of illness at a hospital in Hyderabad, the capital city of Andhra Pradesh on Wednesday.

In October last year Rao had made public his battle with cancer and expressed a wish to live on for “100 years”.

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On Wednesday his actor son Nagarjuna announced his death saying, “He passed away peacefully”.

Rao has acted in over 250 films in an acting career for over 70 years. His first film was Dharmapatni in 1941.

He was a favourite romantic lead and his dancing abilities in Telugu musicals made him a big hit with his fans.   

He has been a recipient of many cultural and acting awards including the presitigious Padma Vibhushan and Dada Saheb Phalke Award.

Rao shot his last film Manam in June 2013. He played the role of a cute grandpa in the film that also starred his son and grandson, both actors. This was the first time three generation of the Akkineni actors had come together to act in a film. It is scheduled to be released this year.  

Rao’s son Nagarjuna and grandson Naga Chaitanya are famous actors in Telugu cinema. 

Source: Al Jazeera