Venkatesh in south scope

victory venkatesh in south scope vol 1 sep 2009

Angry man, crazy man, family man... Karthik Pasupulate revisits the many faces of Venkatesh He is probably the least celebrated of the famous quartet of Telugu superstars that ruled for over two decades. The name Venkatesh might not evoke the same frenzy as a Chiranjeevi, Balakrishna or a Nagarjuna, but with seven Nandi awards, four Filmfare awards besides a host of other such honours, he clearly has a way with the audiences.

Down south, people have a proclivity for hyperbole. It is a tendency that is reflected in titles we bestow upon our reigning film stars.

Honorifics like Vishwavikhyatha natasaravabhauma NTR, Natasamrat ANR, Nata Bhushana Sobhan Babu, Rebel Star Krishnam Raju, Megastar Chiranjeevi, Collection King Mohan Babu, Yuvasamrat Nagarjuna, Yuvaratna Balakrishna... give a glimpse of our penchant for the superlative. Victory Venkatesh then seems like a pretty toned down expression of that kind of worship.

Perhaps Venky would not have it any other way. The deeply spiritual person that he is, he might just say what's in a name? He is the sort of guy who would rather let his work do all the talking. His caliber as an actor was never in doubt. His mature debut as the south's very own angry young man in K Raghavernder Rao's Kaliyuga Pandavulu won him many accolades. The Nandi award for the best newcomer only confirmed what was already known. However, it was K Vishwanath's Swarnakamalam that truly established Venkatesh as someone not to be taken lightly.

In fact, Venky went on to win the prestigious Nandi Award three times in the first four years of his career.

The law of averages soon caught up with Venky, with a slew of unsuccessful films. But it was only a matter of time before he got it right with the jungle adventure Bobbili Raja. It was also the debut film of late teen sensation Divya Bharati. Bobbili Raja rocked the box office, and Venky was back in business.

The film's success marked the beginning of a very special phase in his career. His films Coolie No1 and, Surya IPS were big hits. Then came the Ramgopal Varma-directed Kshana Kshanam.

Among other things, Kshana Kshanam was a revelation of Venkatesh's flair for jest.

Not one to be tied down to an image, Venkatesh has constantly reinvented himself over the years. Another great year was 1992. It was the year Chanti released. It proved to be one of the biggest hits of the year, and was even dubbed in Hindi as the Karisma Kapoor starrer Anari. Venkatesh's touching portrayal of a slightly demented man won him much critical acclaim as well.

It was around this time that he started experimenting with familyoriented films like Chinnarayudu.

His impeccable comic timing came to the fore. Such was the success of these films that it also earned him the sobriquet of being the family hero.

Not so flattering for his angry young man days but Venky had come a long way since then. Be it with action films like Gharshana, Lakshmi and Tulasi or family entertainers like Kalasiundam Raa, Pelli Chesukundam Raa, Malleswari, Aadavari Matalaku Ardhale Verule, Venkatesh broke stereotypes and created quite a stir. Not bad for a foreign-returned MBA who wanted to get into film production, we'd say.

Among the most versatile actors on the Telugu screen, Venkatesh is surely far from done

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