While many in the industry looked to ANR as an iconic actor, for Sai Bhaskar, he always remained a friend. An unlikely association that began when the latter was a young boy just out of school, working a menial job at a book store, it grew and nurtured for 50 years hence. When Bhaskar went on to work for Vamsi Arts Theatre, the association turned from acquaintance to friend.
“He called me his Sannmithrudu. I was so touched by that. A selfless friend who never judged me by anything else other than the friendship we shared, I have indeed lost a lot,” he said emotionally. Despite the different realms of society they came from, the friendship was unaffected and in fact ANR had on many occassions made a presence at various events in Bhaskar’s life. “I would invite him and his family to my house and he would invite my wife and me to his. He attended the weddings of both my son and daughter and even came to a school reunion of mine.”
Bhaskar, who was an alumnus of Keshav Memorial High School, had invited his dear friend to the do last February where the batch of 1953 was meeting after 60 years. “He was really excited about coming because our friends were meeting after such a long time. He told me then that it was such a great thing that we were doing, because he found it difficult just to meet his family in his village.”
Callling themselves “phone friends”, he says he will miss the pal he had who was always a phone call away. “His family is probably not even aware of our friendship; we were phone friends. He would call me whenever he wished to talk or I would call him if I wanted to share something. Whenever I told him about the little functions I was at or organising and mention that I didn’t want to call him because they were really small, he would offer to come himself. He would say it was never about how big or small the the occassion, it was always about the person.”
With his friend gone, Bhaskar says he will always remember ANR for his humbleness, magnanimous heart and vast knowledge. “He was uneducated only in terms of a certificate, but the man knew so much. I’m sure there was no subject that he couldn’t talk about. He was a library.”