Megastar Chiranjeevi turns 64 today. In a career spanning over four decades — from appearing in small roles to playing the antagonist to becoming an irreplaceable demigod of masses – his path was, is, and will be inspirational for many. The stalwart who is fondly known as Chiru, Boss and Annayya (Big Brother) among his admirers, landed his first acting job with Punadi Rallu in 1978. Pranam Khareedu, however, became his first film to hit the screens.
It took him about 60 movies, including cameos, to establish himself as a bankable actor and develop a strong fan following. The 1983 film Khaidi, directed by A Kodandarami Reddy, however, catapulted him to superstardom. The blockbuster title is quite significant to his career since he named his landmark films after it. Khaidi No.786 (1988) and Khaidi No.150 (2016) were his 100th and 150th films respectively.
After the blockbuster status of Khaidi, Chiru went on to do more popular films and over the time, he emerged as the ‘Man of Masses’ with the highest success rate at the box office among his peers at the time. Even though Chiru made a career doing commercial, masala films, he has also done a handful of films that were far removed from his ‘mass hero’ avatar. Here are a few of those films that fit the bill:
Helmed by legendary director K Viswanath, Swayamkrushi marks Chiru’s second collaboration with the director after the musical hit Shubhalekha (1982). In the movie, Chiranjeevi portrayed a cobbler who goes on to find his own footwear company. The rags-to-riches story gave him scope to showcase his potential to deliver subtle performances.
Chiru did Rudraveena at the peak of his career as a mass hero. Even though the movie was not commercially successful, it bagged multiple National Awards, including Best Feature Film on National Integration and Best Music Direction. It also won four Nandi Awards including Special Jury Award for Chiranjeevi.
This film was another gem by director K Viswanath and Chiranjeevi after Shubhalekha and Swayamkrushi. The film revolves around the caste and economy divide prevalent in society. Chiru’s mellow and graceful performance in the film was received well and helped him win another Nandi Award.
Apart from the aforementioned films, Chiru’s negative role in Punnami Nagu (1980), his heart-melting acting in Maga Maharaju (1983), his performance as an ambitious footballer in Vijetha (1985) and his bone-tickling performance in Chantabbai (1986) demonstrate the versatility of the actor.