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A still from a Chiranjeevi film.
A still from a Chiranjeevi film.

Suresh Krishnamoorthy

HYDERABAD: When this son of a police constable hailing from Mogaltur in West Godavari district faced the cameras for the first time in 1978, very few people believed he had it in him. But for sure, Chiranjeevi, nee Konidela Sivasankara Varaprasad had tons of confidence and never lost his verve.

After his debut, ‘Punaadi Raallu’, he did ‘Manavuri Pandavulu’, ‘Intilo Ramayya Veedhilo Krishnayya’, ‘Kothala Raayudu’, ‘Punnami Naagu’, ‘Kiraayi Rowdeelu’, ‘Subhalekha’ and ‘Maga Maharaju’, not to forget ‘Khaidi’ - all this in the first decade of his tryst with tinsel town.

It was in 1988 that Chiranjeevi got the title ‘Megastar’, during producer K.S. Rama Rao’s ‘Marana Mrudangam’ that hit the screens in August, 1988. In the same year, the K. Balachander-directed ‘Rudraveena’ was released, showing the megastar in a different light and he bagged the Nargis Dutt Award.

He also did ‘Pasivaadi Praanam’, K. Vishwanath’s ‘Swayamkrushi’ and ‘Yamudiki Mogudu’. Chiranjeevi however, acquired the ‘mass’ tag and his ‘steps’ in his dances and fights became a rage. Ever since the 90s, with movies like ‘Kodama Simham’, ‘Gharanaa Mogudu’, ‘Hitler’, the mass image stuck with him. His films in the new millennium - ‘Indra’ in 2002, ‘Tagore’ (2003), ‘Shankardada MBBS’ (2004), ‘Andarivadu’ and ‘Jai Chiranjeeva’ (2005), ‘Shankar Dada Zindabad’ (2007) had a social and political overtones that set his fans thinking.

He proved that he was not merely an ‘action hero’ when he bagged Nandi Awards for ‘Swayamkrushi’ in 1987 and ‘Apathbandhavudu’ in 1992 besides the Southern Filmfare Award for Best Actor seven times. He was honoured with the ‘Padma Bhushan’ in 2006 and got an honorary doctorate from the Andhra University for his contribution to films and his social service through the Chiranjeevi Charitable Trust, including the eye and blood banks.

All through his three-decades long tryst with the tinsel town, Chiranjeevi has seen the ‘ups and downs’ and every time there was a flop, he swam to the top with his perseverance and performance.


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