The political life of Konidela Siva Shankara Vara Prasad aka Chiranjeevi (55) is almost as dramatic — albeit without super-hero action — as the 149 movies he has acted in.
Chiranjeevi, a matinee idol who commanded almost the same following as the legendary NT Rama Rao, formed the Praja Rajyam Party in August 2008. Like Rao, Chiranjeevi too launched his party with much fanfare — over 15 lakh people congregated in Tirupati, from where he is also an MLA now.
But unlike Rao, who took the Congress by its horns and rode to power within a year of setting up TDP, Chiru's political ambitions took the first big blow when his party got just 18 MLAs in the 294-member assembly. It lost every Lok Sabha seat contested. Chiru lost from his home turf Godavari district and managed a narrow win in Tirupati.
For a hero, who rescued the masses without much effort on screen, the reluctant entrant into politics (he was persuaded by his brother-in-law Allu Aravind) had to admit it was not easy to engage in "samajika nyayam" (social justice) that his party stands for.
The intellectuals were the first to leave him, claiming ideological bankruptcy. Scores of leaders followed. None of the so-called people's struggles impressed AP, but his appearance is enough to bring a cheer. The hero has recently announced he is getting back to acting, with his 150th film this year.
"We did our best," was his refrain to any political question. The Congress offer will instill new political life into the beleaguered leader. Sources say he could be made Union Cabinet Minister. Yet another role awaits Chiranjeevi.