Konidela Siva Sankara Vara Prasad (born 22 August 1955), better known by his stage name Chiranjeevi is an Indian film actor, dancer, producer, singer, voice artist, politician, businessman, investor and a member of the Indian National Congress. He was the Minister of State with independent charge for the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India. Prior to politics, Chiranjeevi has attended the Madras Film Institute, and had worked primarily in Telugu cinema, in addition to Tamil, Kannada and Hindi films. He made his acting debut in 1978, with the film Punadhirallu. However, Pranam Khareedu was released earlier at the box office. He is known for his break dancing skills. Chiranjeevi starred in Swayam Krushi, which premiered at the Moscow International Film Festival. In 1988, he co-produced Rudraveena, which won the National Film Award for Best Feature Film on National Integration. In a film career spanning thirty five years, he won four state Nandi Awards and ten Filmfare Awards South including the Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award – South.
In 2006, Chiranjeevi was honoured with the Padma Bhushan, India's third highest civilian award, for his contributions to Indian cinema, and was presented with an honorary doctorate from Andhra University. In 2013, he inaugurated the Incredible India Exhibition, a joint participation of the Ministry of Tourism and Ministry of Information and Broadcasting at the 66th Cannes Film Festival. He also represented Incredible India at the 14th International Indian Film Academy Awards ceremony held in Macau. In 2013, IBN LIVE named him as one of "The men who changed the face of the Indian Cinema". Chiranjeevi's 150th film was announced in May 2015.
Chiranjeevi's 1992 film Gharana Mogudu, directed by K. Raghavendra Rao, is the first Telugu film to gross over ₹ 10 crore at the box office. The film made Chiranjeevi the highest paid actor in India at the time, catapulting him to the cover pages of noted national weekly magazines in India. The entertainment magazines Filmfare and India Today named him "Bigger than Bachchan", a reference to Bollywood's Amitabh Bachchan. News magazine The Week hailed him as "The new money machine". He was paid a remuneration of ₹1.25 crores for the 1992 film Aapad Bandhavudu. In 2002, Chiranjeevi was given the Samman Award for the Highest Income Tax Payer for the assessment year 1999-2000 by the Minister of State for Finance, Government of India. A poll conducted by CNN-IBN in 2006 named Chiranjeevi the most popular star of the Telugu Film Industry.
Chiranjeevi founded the Chiranjeevi Charitable Foundation, established in 1998, which is involved in humanitarian activities. In 2008, he entered politics by forming the Praja Rajyam Party. In the 2009 Andhra Pradesh elections, Chiranjeevi contested from his native places, Palakollu and Tirupati. He was defeated by the Congress party candidate in Palakollu and was elected as a member of the State Assembly from the Tirupati constituency. He led the Praja Rajyam Party to emerge as the third largest party during the same election. Later, in February 2011, his Praja Rajyam Party merged into the Indian National Congress.
Early life and family
Chiranjeevi was born in Mogalthur, a small village near Narsapur. His father worked as a constable and got transferred on a regular basis. He spent his childhood in his native village with his grand parents. Chiranjeevi did his schooling in Nidadavolu, Gurajala, Bapatla, Ponnuru, Mangalagiri and Mogalturu. He was an NCC cadet. Chiranjeevi had participated in the Republic Day Parade in New Delhi as an NCC cadet in the early 70s. He was interested in acting from a very young age. He did his Intermediate at C. S. R. Sarma College in Ongole. After graduating with a degree in commerce from Sri Y N College at Narsapur, Chiranjeevi moved to Chennai and joined the Madras Film Institute in 1976 to pursue a career in acting. Since his family worshipped Anjaneya, a Hindu deity, his mother advised him to take the screen name "Chiranjeevi", meaning "live forever", a reference to belief of Hanuman living forever.
He has two daughters, Sushmita and Srija, and a son, Ram Charan Teja, also an actor in Tollywood. One of Chiranjeevi's brothers, Nagendra Babu, is a film producer and also has acted in several films. His youngest brother, Pawan Kalyan, is an actor in Tollywood too. Allu Aravind, his brother-in-law, is a film producer. Chiranjeevi is the uncle of Allu Arjun.
Early career: 1978–1981
Chiranjeevi started his film career with Punadhirallu. However, his first released film was Pranam Khareedu. Mana Voori Pandavulu, directed by Bapu, gave Chiranjeevi recognition from the Indian audience. He played a small role in Tayaramma Bangarayya. He also played the anti-hero in films I Love You and K. Balachander's Idi Katha Kaadu, starring Kamal Haasan. In a remake of the Tamil film Avargal, Chiranjeevi portrayed the character played by Rajinikanth in the original. In 1979, Chiranjeevi had eight major film releases and then 14 films in the following year. He played characters with negative shades in films Mosagadu, Rani Kasula Rangamma and the Tamil-Telugu bilingual 47 Natkal /47 Rojulu directed by K. Balachander. A. Kodandarami Reddy's Nyayam Kavali (1981) saw him playing an anti-hero. Also in 1981, he appeared as a villain in Ranuva Veeran opposite Rajinikanth. He was mostly cast in supporting roles and as antagonistic characters during this period.
Leading roles: 1982
Chiranjeevi began to appear in lead roles with films such as Intlo Ramayya Veedilo Krishnayya directed by Kodi Ramakrishna, which was a hit at the box office. Later, he starred in Shubhalekha directed by K. Viswanath, which dealt with the social malady of the dowry system. It brought him his first Filmfare Award for Best Actor – Telugu and Viswanath's third Filmfare Award for Best Director – Telugu. He also appeared in movies like Idi Pellantara, Sitadevi, Tingu Rangadu, Bandhalu Anubandhalu and Mondi Ghatam. He acted in multi-star movies like Patnam Vachina Pativrathalu and Billa Ranga. He later acted in Manchu Pallaki, along with Suhasini Maniratnam, which was the debut film for director Vamsy.
Chiranjeevi films of the period include Mantri Gari Viyyankudu, Sangharshana, Goonda, Challenge, Hero, Donga, Jwala, Adavi Donga, Kondaveeti Raja, Rakshasudu, Gang Leader, Rowdy Alludu, Yamudiki Mogudu and Donga Mogudu. In 1985, he received his second Filmfare Award for Best Actor – Telugu for his performance in Vijetha. Chiranjeevi received his first Nandi Award for Best Actor for Swayam Krushi (1987), directed by K. Viswanath.
Chiranjeevi worked in 23 films, most of which were box office hits. He also attempted a variety of roles that showed his acting skills. After Khaidi, he had hits like Pasivadi Pranam (1987) and Yamudiki Mogudu (1988) where he appeared in a dual role, and Manchi Donga (1988). His film, Rudraveena (1988), not only won the Nargis Dutt Award for Best Feature Film on National Integration, but also the Nandi Special Jury Award. Its composer Ilaiyaraaja and singer S. P. Balasubrahmanyam won National Film Awards for the same film.
Chiranjeevi Jagadeka Veerudu Atiloka Sundari, a socio-fantasy movie from Tollywood, directed by K. Raghavendra Rao and produced by Ashwini Dutt. Other films like Kondaveeti Donga and Kodamasimham are also box-office successes. Gang Leader (1991) was also a hit and critics even called him the "boss of Telugu cinema".
He acted in Hindi films too. His performances were appreciated in Pratibandh (1990), which gained him a Filmfare nomination. Aaj Ka Goonda Raj, a remake of his Telugu film and The Gentleman, a Tamil remake also proved to be successful. In 1996, he appeared in a guest role in the Kannada film Sipaayi.
The mid-1990s saw a career dip for Chiranjeevi with box-office failures like Mechanic Alludu, S. P. Parasuram, Big Boss and Rikshavodu. There were exceptions, such as Mutha Mestri, which fetched him a fourth Filmfare Award for Best Actor – Telugu. Mugguru Monagallu and Alluda Majaka were moderately successful.
After a brief lull, he came back with Hitler in 1997, which received both critical and commercial acclaim. From then on, Chiranjeevi confined himself to acting in only a few selected films. The following years, he appeared in commercially successful movies like Master, Bavagaru Bagunnara?, and Choodalani Vundi, and for Sneham Kosam, he received his fifth Filmfare Award for Best Actor – Telugu.
In 1999, Chiranjeevi was to appear in a Hollywood production directed by Dushan Garsi, and produced by Rameshkrishna Murthi. The Telugu version was directed by Suresh Krissna. The movie, which was titled The Return of the Thief of Baghdad, had its filming suspended for undisclosed reasons.
Chiranjeevi's new decade started with Annayya. After a brief gap, Chiranjeevi starred in Indra, released in 2002, which broke all his previous box office records of Tollywood and won him his third Nandi Award for Best Actor and sixth Filmfare Award for Best Actor – Telugu. After that, he appeared in films with an underlying message and a social cause, including Tagore and Shankar Dada MBBS, for which he won his seventh and latest Filmfare Award for Best Actor – Telugu, and Stalin. He was awarded the Filmfare Special Award – South in 2006, and the Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award – South at the 58th Filmfare Awards South in 2011 for his contributions to the film industry.
In 2008, Chiranjeevi started Praja Rajyam, a political party in the state of Andhra Pradesh. At the launch, he stated that social justice was the main agenda of his party. In the 2009 general elections, the party won 18 of the 295 seats in the Andhra Pradesh State Assembly. He was elected a Member of the State Assembly from Tirupati.
On 6 February 2011, Chiranjeevi merged the 30-month-old Praja Rajyam Party with the Indian National Congress, after two weeks of talks with Sonia Gandhi, the president of the Congress, which feared the no confidence motion in the state assembly in the wake of the emergence of Jagan Mohan Reddy's YSR Congress Party and the stronghold of Telangana agitation. After more than one year of merging his party into Congress, he was nominated to Rajya Sabha on 29 March 2012. He got elected and took the oath as a Rajya Sabha member on 3 April 2012. On 28 October 2012, he was sworn in as the Union Minister of State (Independent charge), Ministry of Tourism, Government of India.
Chiranjeevi campaigned extensively for Indian National Congress as chairman of election campaign committee for 2014 parliamentary and assembly elections in residuary state of Andhra Pradesh, however, he refrained from contesting in elections. His youngest brother Pawan Kalyan, a former Praja Rajyam Party youth wing leader, launched his own political party Jana Sena and campaigned for Telugu Desham Party and Bharatiya Janata Party. Indian National Congress was defeated in all parliamentary and state assembly seats it contested in Andhra Pradesh with several candidates losing deposit.
On 2 October 1998, he founded the Chiranjeevi Charitable Trust (CCT), which includes Chiranjeevi Blood and Eye Banks. It is the state's largest recipient of blood and eye donations. The trust has made over 68,000 blood donations and 1,414 eye donations. The Blood Bank of the CCT has helped over 80,000 people and the Eye Bank has helped about 1,000 people in the state of Andhra Pradesh since its opening. Around 350,000 people have pledged their eyes to CCT so far, giving 1600 people eyesight through CCT. CCT has also won the "Best Voluntary Blood Bank Award" by the AP State Government for the past 4 years. On 10 June 2006, the then President of India, Abdul Kalam, inaugurated the Chiranjeevi Charitable Foundation (CCF) at the Jubilee Hills Check Post in Hyderabad.
After allegations made against the Blood Bank and Eye Bank, the state government of AP constituted a high-level committee to look into the allegations. The committee worked under the guidance of the project director of AP State AIDA Control Society, comprising experts from finance and technical fields, verified records pertaining to the collection and disposal of blood samples, blood grouping, screening, sterilisation, medical waste disposal, camps conducted, blood expiry, quality control, store room, record room and purchase of equipment.
Awards, honours and recognitions
Director K. Balachander said "Chiranjeevi has both Kamal Haasan and Rajinikanth in him. Not only can he do action, he can also act." Chiranjeevi received the Padma Bhushan, the third highest civilian honour in India in the year 2006. He was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by Andhra University in the same year. He is a ten-time winner of Filmfare Awards South and a four time winner of Nandi Awards. In 2014, he was awarded International Face of Indian Cinema at the 3rd South Indian International Movie Awards from Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor.
- Civilian honor
- Filmfare Award for Best Actor – Telugu - Shubhalekha (1982)
- Filmfare Award for Best Actor – Telugu - Vijetha (1985)
- Filmfare Award for Best Actor – Telugu - Aapadbandhavudu (1992)
- Filmfare Award for Best Actor – Telugu - Muta Mesthri (1993)
- Filmfare Award for Best Actor – Telugu - Sneham Kosam (1999)
- Filmfare Award for Best Actor – Telugu - Indra (2002)
- Filmfare Award for Best Actor – Telugu - Shankar Dada MBBS (2004)
- Filmfare Special Award – South for Honorary Legendary acting career (2006)
- Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award – South (2010)
- Nandi Award for Best Actor - Swayam Krushi (1987)
- Nandi Award for Best Actor - Aapathbandhavudu (1992)
- Nandi Award for Best Actor - Indra (2002)
- International Face of Indian Cinema - (2014)
- Other honors
Below are the selected filmography of Chiranjeevi.
- 1979: Punadhirallu
- 1980: Punnami Naagu as Nagulu
- 1982: Subhalekha as Narasimha Murthi
- 1983: Abhilasha as Chiranjeevi
- 1983: Khaidi as Sooryam
- 1984: Challenge as Gandhi
- 1985: Vijetha as Chinnababu
- 1986: Chantabbai as Pandu
- 1987: Pasivadi Pranam as Madhu
- 1987: Swayamkrushi as Sambayya
- 1988: Rudraveena as Suryanarayana Sastry
- 1988: Yamudiki Mogudu as Kali/Balu
- 1989: Athaku Yamudu Ammayiki Mogudu as Kalyan
- 1990: Kondaveeti Donga as Raja
- 1990: Jagadeka Veerudu Athiloka Sundari as Raju
- 1991: Gang Leader as Rajaram
- 1992: Gharana Mogudu as Raju
- 1992: Aapadbandhavudu as Madhava
- 1993: Mutha Mestri as Bose
- 1997: Hitler as Madhava Rao
- 1998: Choodalani Vundi as Rama Krishna
- 1999: Sneham Kosam as Simhadri/Chinnayya
- 2002: Indra as Indrasena Reddy/Shankar Narayana
- 2003: Tagore as Tagore
- 2004: Shankar Dada M.B.B.S. as Shankar Prasad/Shankar Dada
- 2006: Stalin as Stalin
- 2007: Shankar Dada Zindabad as Shankar Prasad/Shankar Dada