The best actor of Telugu Cinema
From being lovestruck punks to goon-thrashing hunks to goons themselves... Our Tollywood super heroes have done it all. And this is the only online space, wherein you can catch all these trend-setters in one shot.
Apart from a couple of super hit cameos, "Megastar" Chiranjeevi played the lead in over a dozen films, this decade.
'Manjunatha' saw Chiranjeevi in a completely new role; he played Lord Shiva. Although Arjun was the protagonist of the film, it was Chiru's emphatic portrayal of the Lord that made this film a huge success.
After 'Manjunatha', Chiru did 'Indra', which won him a national award and the Filmfare (Telugu) award for the best actor. He played the role of Indrasena Reddy, a humble and hard working man who stands up for his family and community when the need arises, and saves them from natural and man-made calamities. Mani Sharma composed the tunes for this film, which became the biggest musical hit of the year.
The years 2003 and 2004 produced bigger hits for the megastar. While his role of a vigilante in 'Tagore' brought him wide acclaim (the film was an instant box office hit), it was 'Shankardada MBBS' that testified to his versatility as an actor. He played the role of a love-stricken 'dada' willing to reform himself to win his love. Both these films were runaway hits and ensured Chiru an envious position on the Tollywood pantheon. He also won the Filmfare award for the Shankardada act.
Post 'Shankardada MBBS', releases such as 'Andarivadu', 'Jai Chiranjeeva' and 'Stalin' didn't do much to help the star's image as a hit machine; these were only moderate hits.
In 2007, Chiru came back with 'Shankardada Zindabad', which didn't make much clamour at the box office. His last film of the decade was Ram Charan Tej's 'Magadheera', in which he did a cameo.
Balakrishna's entry into this decade was spectacular. Joining hands with director B. Gopal, Balayya created ripples at the box office with 'Narasimha Naidu'.
Carrying his 'roaring lion' image forward, Balakrishna starred in actions films such as 'Seema Simham', 'Chenna Kesava Reddy', 'Palnati Brahmanayudu', 'Lakshmi Narasimha' and 'Vijayaendra Verma', between 2002 and 2004. All these films brought in nominal moolah but did a great deal towards the upkeep of his super hero image.
The years from 2005 to 2008 saw a lull in Ballayya's career. Action-drama flicks such as 'Veerabhadra', 'Allari Pidugu' and 'Maharadhi' didn't do very well at the box office.
His last release, 'Mitrudu', saw the star in a slightly different role - that of a dependable friend and confidante to the female lead. However, the cash counters didn't ring. The 'roaring lion', it seems, has a bit of catching up to do. With a few releases lined-up this year and the next, he seems to be raring for it.
Nagarjuna kick-started the decade with a musical blockbuster, 'Nuvvu Vasthavani'. The movie became one of the biggest hits of 2001. So big was this film's success that the average collections made from his subsequent releases, 'Ninne Premistha' and 'Azaad', didn't really matter. Nag was no.1 then.
Success of romantic comedies 'Santosham' and 'Manmadhudu' propelled the star's career into dizzying heights, in 2002 and 2003. Although 'Sivamani' flopped, Nag had, by then, earned a permanent place on the T'wood Box Office charts.
Nag ended 2004 with a resounding hit, 'Mass'. His portrayal of a vengeful lover, coupled with foot tapping music and fast-paced action, made this film an instant hit. 'Super' featured a suave and youthful looking Nag. The look was a hit. The film wasn't.
In 2006, Nagarjuna paired up with 'Annamayya' director K Raghavendra Rao to produce another huge devotional hit, 'Sri Ramadasu'. Nag won the Nandi award for his performance in the same. The film ran for 100 days in 67 centers across Andhra.
The rest of the decade is punctuated by moderate Nagarjuna hits such as 'Don' (2007), 'Krishnarjuna' and 'King'.
Victory Venkatesh logged into this decade with the super hit, 'Kailsundaam Raa'. The movie won him many trophies, including the Nandi award for the best actor.
The following year saw a bigger hit, 'Nuvvu Naaku Nachaav'. This romantic comedy was lapped up by viewers and ran for 100 days, in over a 100 theatres across the state!
Between 2002 and 2005, his career registered both ups and downs. While 'Vasu', 'Gemini', and 'Vasantham' were average dough grossers, 'Malliswari' and 'Gharshana' were declared hits. His next releases - 'Sankranthi' and 'Subhash Chandra Bose' - did well enough to make him a hot favorite with family audience.
In 2007, Venkatesh came back to form and delivered the super hit, 'Aadavaru Matalaku...'. Venky won yet another Nandi award for this film.
The past couple of years have been of varying fortune for Venky. 'Tulasi' and 'Chintakayala Ravi' were no-shows. 'Eenadu', however, was a huge success, but Venky had to share the credit with Kamal Hassan.
Born Bupathiraju Ravishankar Raju, Ravi Teja's climb to the top has been dramatic. After doing a dozen roles making little or no impact, it was the turn of this century that did wonders for our 'local' man.
In 2001, 'Itlu Sravani Subramaniam' was released and met with huge success after an initial lull. 'Ammayi Kosam and 'Budget Padmanabham' - showcased his talent as a versatile actor.
While 'E Abbai Chala Manchodu', 'Oka Raju Oka Rani', 'Dongodu' and 'Veede' fell flat at the B.O, 'Avunu Vallidaru Ishtapaddaru' and 'Amma Nana O Tamil Ammayi' were big hits.
Between 2004 and 2007, Ravi Teja starred in a dozen run-of-the-mill flicks. During this phase, his hits included 'Bhadra', 'Chanti', 'Vikramarkudu', and 'Dubai Seenu'. His recent release, 'Kick', has broken a few Box Office records.
'Allari' was released in 2002. The film starred a dozen fresh faces, young and old, and opened to mixed reviews. However, within a couple of months, it began drawing larger crowds and the Box Office bells kept ringing. A new star had arrived: 'Allari' Naresh.
In 2004, 'Nenu' and 'Nuvvante Naakishtam' saw Naresh try to outlive his comic hero image, with little acceptance.
Naresh gained momentum in mid 2006 with comical hits such as 'Kithakithalu' and 'Gopi - Goda Meedha Pilli'. Naresh continued his good run with 'Seema Sastry', 'Athili Sathi Babu', and 'Allare Allari'. After a flop run, Naresh came back with 'Bommanna Brothers Chandana Sisters', 'Gamayam' and 'Blade Babji'.
In 2001, "Power Star" Pawan Kalyan's 'Khushi' opened to unmatched fan frenzy and broke many Tollywood Box Office records.
Between 2003 and 2006, 'Johny', 'Gudumba Shankar', 'Balu ABC...', and 'Bangaram' were released but didn't create a flutter at the Box Office, despite having huge openings.
Late into 2006, 'Annavaram' was released, and took the Box Office by storm. Pawan's next release, 'Jalsa', opened to huge crowds but failed to live up to the hype. The music of the film was, however, a huge hit with the youth.
Though 'Ninnu Choodalani' was Junior NTR's first official release of the decade, it was the super hit 'Student No.1' that introduced him to the larger Andhra audience.
NTR Jr's next releases 'Subbu', 'Aadi', 'Allari Ramudu',' Simhadri', 'Andhrawla' and 'Samba' landed between 2002 and 2005. Among these, only 'Aadi' and 'Simhadri' managed to create noise at the Box Office His fan legions were, however, growing from strength to strength.
'Naa Alludu' (2005) and 'Narsimhudu' (2006) were declared average. NTR's popularity was growing like never before and more people across the state began to accept him as a hero who could act, dance and yes, break a zillion bones if required!
Prabhas's initial releases in 2002-'03 ('Eshwar' and 'Raghavendra') didn't prove his mettle as an actor. It was 'Varsham' (2004) that announced his arrival in a big way. Fans and family audiences loved the film and it was declared a hit in the first week of release itself!
In 2005, Prabhas starred in the much awaited 'Chatrapati', which broke a few box office records in Andhra and was declared a super hit.
'Pournami', 'Yogi', and 'Munna' (released between 2006 and 2007) opened to lukewarm response across the state. Prabhas staged a terrific comeback with two back-to-back hits, 'Billa' (2008) and 'Ek Niranjan' (2009).
Prince Mahesh Babu has created a niche for himself in the Telugu film industry. In this decade, Mahesh Babu has, so far, won 8 best actor (state) awards from 11 releases.
2001 saw the release of 'Murari', a film that went on to break B.O records. Filmed by Krishna Vamsi, the film cemented Mahesh's place in the big league.
In 2002, two much-hyped films of Mahesh - 'Bobby' and 'Takkari Donga' - failed to impress viewers and Mahesh was in search of a hit to revive his image as a Box Office darling. 'Okkadu' came and conquered the Box Office
'Athadu' was released in 2005 and was a smashing success. In 'Pokiri' (2006), Mahesh played a tight-lipped cop masquerading as a goon to wipe out mafia elements. The film is considered one of the biggest hits in the history of Tollywood. Mahesh, however, couldn't continue this success run with 'Sainikudu' and 'Athidhi'.