A superstar in the making

telugu cinema

A superstar in the making

Telugu film heroes have the habit of bouncing back after a reverse. Mahesh Babu did it with Dookudu, Venkatesh with Seethamma Vakitlo Sirimalle Chettu, Pavan Kalyan with Gabbar Singh, and Jr NTR with Badshah.

Another actor who has jumped on to this bandwagon is Prabhas, who, after hitting a trough with his much-touted Rebel, has come back strongly with Mirchi.

A tall, gangly six-footer, Prabhas, the nephew of veteran Telugu hero Krishnam Raju, is one of the rising stars of Telugu cinema and after a rather lacklustre debut with Eshwar and a none-too-impressive Raghavendra, made his presence felt with the blockbuster Varsham, directed by Sobhan, with Trisha playing the female lead. The highlight of the film was the rain as a backdrop, used as a metaphor for love that blossoms between the hero and the heroine.

The film notched up a hundred-day run in several theatres and firmly established Prabhas as an actor to watch out for, and his later performances were to prove that though he was by no means infallible, he could be relied upon to churn out a hit if he had a good heroine and a capable director to support him. This was proved when Prabhas signed Chatrapathi, with Shriya Saran playing the female lead. The film proved to be a superhit. Written and directed by Rajamouli, it afforded Prabhas a good opportunity to display his histrionic skills.

The Puri Jagannadh-directed Bujjigadu, where the actor shared honours with Trisha, one of his lucky mascots, excelled in the action scenes and rocked the box-office. However, two o f his films — Pournami and Yogi — crash landed and brought him back to terra firma again. An overdose of melodrama in these films cheesed off the audience, who gave Prabhas a decisive thumbs down for his efforts.

The remake of the Tamil hit Billa again sent his stock soaring. The film, which was produced by his own production house, also found him sharing frames with his uncle Krishnam Raju, who was cast in the role of a police commissioner.

A proposal to make Billa 2, again reprising the Tamil original starring Ajith Kumar, has not made much headway so far. One other film that gave a distinct fillip to his career was Vamsi Padapally-directed Munna with Ileana D’Cruz, where he was cast as a student who is drawn into the vortex of a fierce conflict. The film is replete with action sequences, and the brawny actor who has an appetite for action, had a field day.

Prabhas proved that he was also comfortable with romantic comedies, delivering back to back hits in Darling and Mr Perfect. Both these films had Kajal Agarwal as his female interest, and the latter film also featured the ravishing Tapsee Pannu in a parallel role. He had the role of a software gaming expert in Mr Perfect, which was shot extensively abroad. Both these movies were lapped up by the audiences, as they had light and frothy themes and the hero could hold their attention with his antics.

One film that Prabhas had pinned a lot of hopes on was Rebel, directed by choreographer-actor-director Raghava Lawrence. The film had two heroines in Tamanna and Deeksha Seth and even though it was laced with all the necessary ingredients, Rebel received mixed reviews and met with lukewarm success at the box-office. Prabhas, however, quickly resurrected his career with Mirchi with Anushka (the only heroine who matches his height to an extent) and Richa Gangopadhyay. The film straightaway struck a chord with the audience. Mirchi, which was directed by debutant Koratala Siva, was again and action and music extravaganza.

S S Rajamouli of the Magadheera and Eega fame, is busy shooting the period film Bahubali. Prabhas has signed up for the main role and will match strides with another tall hero, Rana Daggubatti. The film will again feature Anushka, and for this ambitious project, Prabhas is expected to don an entirely new look with long locks and a beard. A number of action sequences too could be part of the script and the actor has been learning sword fencing techniques from experts so that he can add new dimensions to his portrayal.

Working stills of the film have already surfaced in the media, and a glance at the shots reveal that the film will feature a number of action sequences and could well be another Megadheera in the making.

Rajamouli, who shares a good rapport with the actor, having worked with him in the runaway hit Chhatrapati, is known to be a perfectionist and can well be expected to extract a convincing performance from him. Prabhas, like many of his contemporaries, is content with working on one film at a time, and with his abiding desire to concentrate on the film on hand, rarely discusses other projects.

The soft-spoken actor has always been a big hit with Telugu audiences largely due to his debonair looks and his bachelor status, and also for the sincerity he brings to his work. With most heroes of his age having already entered into holy matrimony, Prabhas is one of the few heartthrobs who is still single.

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