Young, talented & successful
DECCAN CHRONICLE | Sashidhar Adivi
This year only a handful of Telugu films were winners at the box office. While stars like Jr NTR, Ram Charan and Pawan Kalyan enjoyed success, others including Mahesh Babu, Prabhas and Chiranjeevi had tough luck. This year undoubtedly belongs to actors who trod uncharted waters.
Actors like Siddhu Jonnalagadda, Adivi Sesh, Nikhil Siddhartha, Dulquer Salmaan and Vishwak Sen showed great promise. Amidst the pandemic and the significant raise in OTT viewership, these actors’ films have managed to pull the audiences to cinemas. Here’s a round-up of their accomplishments.
Adivi Sesh has emerged as the epitome of success in multiple ways this year. His film Major (in June) became a pan-India blockbuster and catapulted him into a bigger league! Six months later, in December, he followed up with another super hit, HIT 2, which established him as one the best and biggest brands in cinema today.
When asked to comment about the back-to-back successes, he ascribes it to God’s grace and also to his work ethics. "I have been blessed with amazing teams that slog almost the whole day. We wanted to make pan-Indian films sitting in Hyderabad," he says, adding that it’s great to get recognition at the national level.
Sesh says his earlier successes taught him to trust his instincts. He shares that he believed that the scripts of both his films had great box office potential. "Films like Major and HIT 2 validated my hard work," says the actor who is now set to work on the sequel to Goodachari.
Siddhu Jonnalagadda showed his acting prowess with DJ Tillu, pulling crowds to theatres and earning the approval of audiences and critics alike. His spellbinding performance was described as a ‘one man show.’ His trademark dialogue ‘Atluntadi Manathoni’ in the film became a rage among the youth. Talking about his success, Siddhu tells us, "When I look back, my heart is filled with joy, relief and gratitude. There is a lot to be grateful for. It gives me a kick to take up roles that are challenging. I thought my role as a brat in DJ Tillu suited my image and personality. I was able to gain a lot of confidence from that film." Siddhu is currently shooting for the second instalment DJ Tillu Square.
Another actor who has shown great promise this year is Nikhil Siddhartha. His Karthikeya 2 was a smash hit. The film was a Rs. 100 crore grosser, a rare feat for a non-star movie. He finds it exciting to be in the elite Rs. 100 cr club. "But more than the numbers, the love I have got from the people all across India is what made me happy," says an elated Nikhil.
The actor says the film’s success will help him back great stories, going forward. Also, the success of Karthikeya 2 has inspired him to invest more in the Vfx aspects of films.
"To be honest, it was a huge surprise that the film became such a big hit. We believed that Karthikeya 2 would do well in Telugu because it is the second instalment of an established hit film. We assumed it would take baby steps in the Hindi belt. But the response was unbelievable," he adds.
A few days ago, Nikhil’s next film 18 Pages released at the box office, but did not live up to expectations.
Although Dulquer Salmaan enjoys star status in his native Kerala, he is just one film old (Mahanati) to the Telugu audience. But his performance as Lieutenant Ram in Sita Ramam was astonishing. He channels all his charm to portray the character with grace and innocence.
"I wanted to look at the role from director Hanu’s perspective," says Dulquer in retrospect. "My idea of doing a romantic period drama worked big time. The script is intensely emotional, and we felt if it was narrated in an intelligent way the film would go a long way. That’s exactly what has happened," he said.
Dulquer’s Hindi film, Chup: Revenge of the Artist, which was released this year, earned kudos too. When asked if he would focus on Telugu and Hindi films next, he replies that he wants to strike a balance between working in South and North films. "As an actor, I am game to do films in any language. Since I work in several languages, I want every outing to be unique and memorable."
Vishwak is one of those actors who can look back at the year with satisfaction! While his summer release Ashoka Vanamlo Arjuna Kalyanam made some noise at the box office, he won acclaim for his performance in the fantasy romantic comedy, Ori Devuda, which was released in October. Vishwak says the two films proved that audiences are always game to appreciate films that have engaging content.
"I tried to make love stories more realistic and natural, and I think that struck a chord with the audience. I also got the self-assurance that I can experiment with characters and genres," Vishwak reflects, adding that he has also been motivated to choose more engaging plots.