Happy birthday Mahesh Babu: Six best performances to celebrate the star on his big day
Actor Mahesh Babu may have had an easy entry into the industry but he’s come a long way to enjoy the kind of stardom he does today. With his share of hits and misses, Mahesh has consistently tried to strike a balance between commercial cinema and experimental roles. On the occasion of his 44th birthday (August 9), we take a look at six best performances of his career.
In what can be best described as Mahesh Babu’s first attempt at doing something out of his comfort zone, Gunasekar’s Okkadu saw Mahesh play a Kabbadi player, who risks his life to save a girl from being forcefully married to a local rowdy. The film stripped Mahesh of his star image and made him play a very raw character full of life. The film, which won Mahesh Babu a Filmfare award for Best Actor, was later remade in Tamil, Kannada, Bengali and Hindi.
In this Trivikram directorial, Mahesh played a hitman and the role gave his career a much-needed reinvention at that point in time. He played a character that rarely speaks but portrayed expressive body language and mannerisms. The film was much ahead of its time, especially in its Hollywood-style making and unlike the regular, star-driven commercial pot-boilers, Athadu works because it doesn’t glorify its hero and it is amazing Mahesh didn’t have a problem with it. Another highlight of the film was the dialogues and thanks to Trivikram, some of the lines are remembered even today.
Puri Jagannadh’s Pokiri, a follow-up to Athadu, is considered one of the biggest grossers of Telugu filmdom even today. In a role in stark contrast to what he played in Athadu, Mahesh played a reckless rowdy-cum-uncover cop to the tee, showcasing his range as an actor by impressing audiences and critics alike. Ask any non Mahesh Babu fan and Pokiri will definitely feature in their list of his best performances. Just like Trivikram, who reinvented Mahesh’s image with Athadu, Puri did something similar with Pokiri, and the result was highly satisfying. Even look-wise, Pokiri saw Mahesh sport long hair which was extremely well received by his fans.
In his second collaboration with Puri Jagannadh, Mahesh played a character who aspires to be the next big don. Set in Mumbai, and stitched from the same cloth used to make RGV’s films, there was something special yet odd about Businessman that made it work. In yet another career-defining role, Mahesh displayed flamboyance and made the role of Surya bhai special. Even though the film earned mixed response from critics, it didn’t miss to hit the bull’s eye at the box-office.
In a truly bold attempt, Mahesh teamed up with Sukumar for this psychological thriller. Mahesh shed weight and sported six-pack abs for his role as a rockstar suffering from schizophrenia. While the film may not have worked at the box-office, it surely made audiences take notice of the creativity in its story and the versatility Mahesh can bring to his roles. It’s a shame the film, despite being good, failed to connect with everybody. Despite its box-office results, most Mahesh Babu’s fans will continue to celebrate this film because it was truly experimental.
Considered one of the biggest blockbusters of his career this far, Koratala Siva’s Srimanthudu made Mahesh truly the man of the masses. The story about a millionaire vowing to change the fate of a small village connected across audiences and struck gold at the ticket window. In another sensible role, Mahesh proved why an actor needs a very competent director to succeed and there can’t be a better example than this film. Srimanthudu came after the debacle of Aagadu, and it gave Mahesh the much needed boost in his career.