Tirupati, Aug 26 (UNI) One of his inspirations to take the plunge into politics, as Telugu matinee idol of this era Chiranjeevi himself put it while announcing his entry, was the superstar of the golden era of Telugu cinema N T Rama Rao, who in 1983 January became the first hero from Tollywood to launch his own party.
And it was from NTR and another Telugu super star A Nageswara Rao that Chiranjeevi took over the baton after he made his screen debut in Telugu cinema on September 22, 1978, after becoming a B Com graduate from Narsapur and obtaining a Diploma in acting. He got past already established heroes like late Sobhan Babu and Krishna to shoot to instant stardom in Tollywood.
After his debut through 'Punaadi Rallu' and 'Manavuri Paandavulu' a social satire taken after 'Mahabharata', made by artistic Director Baapu and the actor's first film with 100 day run, Chiranjeevi's mass craze arguably outdid that of NTR and ANR as youth raved over his screen antics, sometimes laced with good performances under another aristic filmmaker K Viswanath. This was in films like ''Subhalekha'', ''Swayamkrushi'' and ''Apadbanchavudu'', in which he teamed up with Bollywood actress Meenakshi Seshadri.
In the beginning of his career Chiranjeevi, born as Sivasankara Varaprasad, played the villain in films like 'Kukka Kaatuku Cheppudebba'' and ''Kothpeta Rowdi''.
However, his dancing talent and hair rising stunts on screen won him the affection of college and school going youth in Andhra Pradesh. He established himself as the box office king, as they would say in Tollywood with hits like 'Kothala Rayudu, 'Punnami Naagu', 'Mogudu Kavali', 'Kirayi Rowdeelu', 'Maga Maharaju', 'Intlo Ramayya Veedhilo Krishnayya, 'Abhilaasha', 'Manthri Gaari Viyyankudu' and 'Rudra Veena', remake of a Tamil hit by K Balachander under his own production house. In this remake Chiranjeevi had the onus of living up to the performance put up in the Tamil original by Kamal Hassan.
However, the chartsmatic actor, like any other star, too had his share of flops as age caught up with him. He has acted in 152 films since his debut. In the second phase of his career, Chiranjeevi donned better roles in films like 'Baavagaru Bagunnara' 'Iddaru Mitrulu', 'Indra', 'Chanti',in which he did a Charlie Chaplin cameo, 'Stalin' and 'Shankar Dada MBBS', a remake of HIndi hit Munnabhai MBBS in two seperate editions.
Chirajveei was crowned with the Filmfare award for Best actor on seven occasions and was honoured with Padma Bhushan by the Indian government.
Turning to charity, for many the first step to politics, Chiranjeevi set up 'Chirajeevi Charitable Trust-blood and eye banks. So far about 3.5 lakh people have pledged their eyes to the bank and one lakh people have donated blood.
Having ruled as numero uno for long in Telugu cinema after NTR and ANR, as the yesteryear matinee idols were affectionately called in the industry, it now remains to be seen if Chiranjeevi would be able to emulate NTR in riding to the seat of power in his home state with just six months remaining for the elections.
NTR had done it in a record nine months after forming his 'Telugu Desam' party.
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