Of crucial comebacks

Down south

Of crucial comebacks

Nearly eight years ago, megastar Chiranjeevi put his acting career on hold, and ventured into what he thought was a greener pasture — politics.

The man with the twinkle toes is back facing the cameras all over again for his 150th film produced by his son Ram Charan Teja and Lyca Productions titled, Khaidi No. 150, directed by V V Vinayak. Evidently, Chiranjeevi has decided to take no chances with his comeback vehicle, and has opted to remake the Tamil blockbuster Kaththi. The hero has a dual role, both clearly defined and packing quite a bit of potential to put across a sterling performance. As per trade reports the film could hit the screens by Sankranti early next year.

A mercurial performer

Chiranjeevi, who did an acting course in the Madras Film Institute and entered Tollywood with starry dreams, had to struggle every inch of the way in the early part of his career. He even played a few negative roles before he could establish his credentials as a hero. Significant among these films are Tamil film Ranuva Veeran, 47 Natkal and Idi Katha Kaadu, a Telugu remake of K Balachander’s Avargal.

Among his early successes as a hero was the 1992 film Gharana Mogudu, which earned the distinction of being the first Telugu film to gross over 10 crore at the box office. A quick scan of his filmography would reveal that the vast majority of the actor’s films have been commercial potboilers, packed with the routine formula ingredients of a few song and dance numbers and a surfeit of stunt sequences. But the actor’s charisma and his electrifying screen presence could transform even mediocre films into hits. Some of these films were Nyayam Kavali, Intlo Ramayya Veedilo Krishnayya, Kondaveeti Donga, Khaidi, Mutha Mestri, Shankar Dada M.B.B.S. and so on.

High on histrionics

Filmmaker K Balachander, who had reportedly remarked that he saw shades of both his protégés Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan in Chiranjeevi, extracted an excellent performance from the mega star in Rudraveena, which won the National Award for the Best Feature Film on National Integration. Another director who harnessed the megastar’s acting potential was K Viswanath, who directed him in films including Subhalekha, Swayamkrushi and Aapadbandhavudu, and in all these films the actor was cast in well-defined character roles that contrasted sharply with his image as a commercial entertainer. However, Chiranjeevi’s brief forays into Bollywood with films including Pratibandh, Aaj Ka Goonda Raaj and Sandalwood with Sipaayi, did not fetch him much of a foothold in those industries.

Future projects

Chiranjeevi has obviously decided to take things as they come, and is presently pinning his hopes on his comeback film which could pack a lot of punch and resurrect his film career. In all probability, the actor will be joining forces with his brother-in-law, the prolific producer Allu Aravind, who will bankroll his next film after Khaidi No. 150. With many of his contemporaries like Balakrishna, Nagarjuna, Venkatesh, Mahesh Babu and Chiranjeevi’s own brother Pawan Kalyan still going strong, and the younger generation including NTR (Junior), Prabhas, Allu Arjun and Ram Charan Teja also carving their own niches, the competition is likely to be stiff.

The veteran of over three-and-a-half decades in cinema will have a tough battle on his hands to establish his supremacy all over again. But again it all boils down to his choice of projects, as he will have to rely more on his talent as an actor who can deliver in mature and author-backed roles than merely replicate his performances in films that were made a couple of decades ago. It also remains to be seen whether the big banners that had backed him in the past will continue to place their faith in him.

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