Konidela Siva Shankara Varaprasad is making a comeback to films after eight years. So what’s the big deal? It is, if the man in question in known as Chiranjeevi, one of the most popular actors in what is commonly called ‘south cinema’ in India. In an acting career spanning more than three decades, he has dominated the Telugu film industry like no other and delivered one hit after another.
On Friday, 60-year-old Chiranjeevi will give the mahurat shot for his 150th film, produced by his son Ram Charan.
Known for his dancing skills, Chiranjeevi’s return to the silver screen has generated tremendous interest among his fans who lovingly call him the ‘Mega Star’. Chiranjeevi’s last movie as a hero was the 2007 hit Shankar Dada Zindabad, a Telugu remake of the Bollywood blockbuster Lage Raho Munnabhai.
In between, he dabbled in politics and floated the Praja Rajyam Party (PRP) in 2008. However, the move flopped - as critics put it - and he later merged the party with the Congress in 2011.
Nominated to the Rajya Sabha, Chiranjeevi also served as the Union minister of state for tourism.
But politics has always been a ‘side role’ for the man who was awarded the Padma Bhushan 2006 for his contribution to Indian cinema.
The biggest of them all
Though Chiranjeevi tried and failed to find a foothold in Bollywood, there has never been any doubt about his star status in erstwhile Andhra Pradesh. And his fans even loved him when he played the villain opposite Rajnikaanth.
His 1992 film Gharana Mogudu, directed by K Raghavendra Rao, was the first Telugu film to gross over Rs 10 crore at the box office. Chiranjeevi’s comeback movie has generated lot of curiosity and even controversy in Tollywood over the past few months. In May last year, it was announced that Puri Jagannath will direct him in his 150th movie, tentatively titled Auto Johnny.
Puri, who roped in popular actors Nayanthara and Anjali to play the female lead roles in the movie, had tweeted in Telugu, “Who would have thought that a person who once used to decorate theatres for Chiranjeevi’s films will direct him in his 150th film.”
The film was to be launched on August 22, the 60th birthday of the megastar. However, the plan fell through as the actor was not happy with the script.
Putting all speculations to rest, Ram Charan last week confirmed that his father has decided to take a break from politics and act in his movie. Shooting is expected to begin in June.
According to sources close to the actor, the ‘mahuratam’ will be a strictly family affair.
Chiranjeevi and his family members will offer ‘puja’ to mark the occasion after which the megastar will also pose for the first shot.
The yet-to-be-named film is said to be a Telugu remake of the Tamil hit Kaththi. The director of movie will be VV Vinayak, the man behind Chiranjeevi’s 2003 hit Tagore.
Chiranjeevi is said to be playing a double role in the film. There will be two leading ladies but the producer has still not decided the cast.
Born on August 22, 1955 in Mogalturu, a small village in the coastal district of West Godavari, Chiranjeevi is the eldest of three sons of Venkat Rao, an employee in the excise department, and Anjana Devi.
After graduation, Varaprasad, who developed a keen interest in cultural activities during student days, moved to Madras (now Chennai) to seek a career in the film industry and joined a film institute in 1977.
Punaadi Raallu was his first film in the lead role but it was Pranam Kareedhu which was released first in 1978.
He married Surekha, daughter of eminent comedian of yesteryears Allu Ramalingayya, in 1980. He has two daughters and a son.
Also called Chiru, his two brothers, Nagendra Babu and Pavan Kalyan, are also actors.