Born Konidela Siva Sankara Vara Prasad Konidela, known globally today as Chiranjeevi, the actor is one of the well-known stars in Indian cinema. The Telugu icon has also worked in Tamil, Kannada and Hindi films and was born on August 22, 1955. An alumni of the Madras Film Institute, he made his big-screen debut with the Telugu drama Punadhirallu (1979) and has worked in the film industry for a career spanning more than four decades. Fondly called Annaya (big brother) by his fans and supporters, Chiranjeevi has acted in 150 films in his illustrious career so far. Notably, the iconic actor is the elder brother of actors Pavan Kalyan and Nagendra Babu. He is the father of actor Ram Charan Teja and the uncle of actors Allu Arjun, Allu Sirish, Varun Tej, Niharika and Sai Dharam Tej.
On the actor’s 66th birthday, here’s looking at some of his biggest career milestones that made him the Megastar of Tollywood.
Chiranjeevi’s first big hit as a hero was in the Kodi Ramakrishna directorial – Intlo Ramayya Veedhilo Krishnayya (1982), opposite Madhavi. The star was lauded for playing the role of a teasing husband and a caring friend with ease.
In the following year, the film Khaidi (1983) gave Chiranjeevi the macho action-hero image and is a major milestone in his long career. While, the Telugu-language comedy drama film Chanatabbai (1987) adapted and directed by Jandhyala let Chiranjeevi explore his comical side and proved he is a versatile actor too.
The box-office continued to appreciate his movies such as Manthri Gari Viyyankudu, Challenge, Adavi Donga, Kondaveeti Raja among others. However, he received rave reviews for his performance and his first state Nandi Award for Best Actor for Swayamkrushi (1987) directed by K Viswanath. The film proved Chiranjeevi was not just a commercial-movie actor, but also an extraordinary performer as well.
He next starred in K. Balachander’s Rudraveena (1988), which turned out to be one of the best films made in Telugu cinema. The classic not only won the Nargis Dutt Award for Best Feature Film on National Integration, but also raked in a Filmfare Award and another Nandi Award for Best Actor category.
His next big film was Jagadeka Veerudu Athiloka Sundari (1990), which changed the dynamics of Tollywood and stands as a milestone in his career. The film was directed by the prolific K. Raghavendra Rao and starred Sridevi opposite him and featured scintillating music by Ilaiyaraaja.
However, the 1991 release Gang Leader propelled him to astronomical heights. The film was a huge blockbuster and critics started calling Chiranjeevi “the boss of Telugu cinema”.
After a lull in the mid-90s to early 2000, he starred in Indra (2002) which eclipsed most of his earlier achievements. The Chiranjeevi-Sonali Bendre starrer not only grossed over Rs. 20 crores at the box office, but also highlighted the star’s breakdancing skills. While he has many signature dance moves, his veena step in this film maintains a cult status. He used it again in Tagore, a year later.
He dabbled in politics for a while and after a gap of nine years, his comeback movie Khaidi No 150 (2017), was a blockbuster industry hit and collected more than Rs 100 crore at the box office.