Before the name

Before the name

Starstruck

These days, it’s not about the name but what comes before your name. Unlike other film industries, Sandalwood is filled with actors, who have prefixes to their names, like Power Star, Hattrick Hero, Navarasa Nayaka, Karate King, Lovely Star... the list is endless. In fact, veteran Dr Rajkumar himself had 109 prefixes like Nata Saurabhouma, Kanada Kanmani, Dhruva Thare etc.
Due to huge hero worship and fan clubs, many popular stars enjoy the prefix given to them. “My dad always told me that he never believed that titles were everything, it was something the fans bestowed upon him and they had every right to give them and remove them as well. A title may bring a certain section to the cinema but ultimately the film has to do the talking not the title,” says Raghavendra Rajkumar.
There was a time when only those actors, who after years of sustenance had established themselves in the world of cinema, would be christened with a prefix, but these days actors who are just a few films old get a prefix. Lovely Star Prem, for instance, received his title from Dr Rajkumar Fan Club after his third movie Jothe Jotheyali. “Most of the roles that I have taken up were of a romantic hero that is why I got the title of Lovely Star,” he says while adding, “I feel that today’s generation is extremely lucky because actors of yesteryears worked very hard before they got a title whereas we are getting it so easily. I guess this is because more and more people are coming up and watching our movies and this is their way of showing appreciation.”
There are also some actors, who derive their title from a movie that has created waves, like Kichcha Sudeep or Sahasa Simha Vishnuvardhan. There are also few titles given to the heroes for their onscreen persona. For example, Ambarish, got the title Rebel Star because of his many roles in films where he rebelled against the system.  
But the same is not the case, when it comes to heroines of Sandalwood. With a new face every week, only the yesteryear heroines like Malashree, Kalpana or Jayanthi have had the privilege of a popular prefix. “The industry has always been a male-dominated place, despite that there were a few heroines who made a mark and that is very commendable but one cannot really pinpoint and say why exactly today’s heroines aren’t getting one,” says Raghavendra.       
Over the years, even the producers, film directors, music directors and singers have been given titles. If producer Ramu is called Koti Ramu for his exuberant sets and budgets; action director Manju is known as Thriller Manju for his action scenes. While the title Rockline in producer Rockline Venkatesh’s name is that of his production firm. “People have known me through this firm, so gradually I have come to be known as Rockline Venkatesh, but I wouldn’t say it is a title. A title is what fans bestow upon you not what you give yourself,” explains Rockline Venkatesh.
Even though other industries like Bollywood do share a similar trend of prefixes, only a lucky few are honoured, that too the titles are given by the media. Where as for namma Sandalwood stars, it’s the fans that give them the privilege. “That makes all the difference,” concludes Prem.  

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