In an episode of Raghavendra Rao’s Soundaryalahiri, Ravi Teja and Harish Shankar were attending as guests. They were discussing about some mundane scenes and songs. Since both of them weren’t associated with Raghavendra Rao’s movies after they gained their name and fame, they had to resort to praising Raghavendra Rao’s movies.

At a certain point in that interview, Ravi Teja and Harish Shankar were made to talk about Rowdy Alludu.

They were shown a scene from the movie and were asked to talk about it. While the director tried to make the talk centre around himself, Ravi Teja and Harish Shankar were insistent on giving the credit to Chiranjeevi and his last minute improvisations. Raghavendra Rao had to divert the topic to stop the unending discussion on Chiranjeevi

You can watch the bit of the interview here and laugh to your heart’s content

When Chiranjeevi announced that he would be making a comeback, it brought goosebumps to a lot of people. He was away for a period of 9 years, 5 months and 15 days from the turnstiles (Time between two releases, as a hero).

So, when Khaidi no 150 released, it was a pleasure to see the man not losing much of the sheen he had before he went off on an extended sabbatical. It was a delight to see him refer to his previous hits, do the simple steps in a stylised manner and going back to tics.

Somehow, the sum was not equal to the parts in the movie. Yes, he danced well; yes, he did do comedy well; yes, he excelled in the action scenes, but there was something lacking. Was it the fact that he saw his best, many times over, before his sabbatical? Was the age showing on him? Was he trying too hard to impress us? I think it’s a combination of all of these things.

When I saw him matching steps with women aged lesser than half his age or closer to half his age, I marvelled at his agility. I thought how can a 61-year old man dance the way he did. After I came back home from the movie, I was thinking why should a man of his age need to dance the way he did. He could’ve chosen to play his age and nobody would’ve complained. He didn’t. He wanted to satiate the thirst of millions of his fans.

A lot of times, in the present-day movies, you would find the heroes making pointed references to their lineage. A few heroes from his family are also guilty of the crime. This wasn’t the case in 1980’s — the time when Chiranjeevi was rising up the stardom ladder. He had no one to lean back on. He came up the hard way; through his own efforts with no backing whatsoever.

In the hierarchy of superstars in Telugu Film Industry, he can be, at best, called a ‘third generation’ superstar. So, while growing as a star he didn’t have a lot of aggrandising dialogues in his movies. He must be one of the very stars whose moniker changed mid-way in his career — from ‘Supreme Hero’ to ‘Megastar’. The change happened in his 101st movie: Maranamrudangam.

First time Chiranjeevi had the name ‘Megastar’ prefixed was in Maranamrudangam

For a man who attained stardom in 1983 with the movie Khaidhi, he was on a roll till 1995. It was an year in which he saw failure like never before. The repercussions were there for all to see. Before making the jump into politics, 1996 remains the only year where a movie of Chiranjeevi didn’t release.

He came back with Hitler and he started playing his age, nearly, after that. Gone were the loveable rascal sort of roles and this was also the time he began buying into his image as a megastar. The fans were at crossroads as the star that they loved wasn’t portraying the roles that they wanted him to. Credit to Chiranjeevi then that he made them believe in the roles he portrayed.

The year 1996, in addition to being a barren year for Chiranjeevi fans, was also an year where he looked back on the mistakes of 1995 and sort of turned away from the roles that made him a star.

JVAS, Gang Leader, Rowdy Alludu, Gharana Mogudu, Mutta Mestri and Mechanic Alludu were followed by drab movies. The stretch of movies stands him in good stead till date. Mention the cyclone of 1990 to anyone in Krishna District, chances are that they will remember the pain they took to watch Jagadeka Veerudu Athiloka Sundari than the pain the cyclone left in its wake.

So what altered? Combinations altered. Mechanic Alludu was the last movie in which Chiranjeevi and Vijayshanti shared a frame. Their first movie together was Devanthakudu. Their pairing lasted for 9 years. In those 9 years, Chiranjeevi acted in 52 movies with 19 different heroines. After Mechanic Alludu, he acted in 30 movies with 27 different heroines.

So, when he came back in Khaidhi no 150, it must have been a relief for the fans in a way to see him harking back to the pre-Hitler days than the post-Hitler days.

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