Nandamuri Balakrishna @62: The lion roars loud and proud

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He may have turned 62 on Friday, but Telugu actor-politician Nandamuri Balakrishna continues to roar defiantly – in reel as well as real life.

His last movie ‘Akhanda’ was a superhit, his latest movie project in the works, tentatively titled ‘NBK 107’ is proceeding at a fast clip. On his birthday on Friday, his 108th movie was announced with director Anil Ravipudi.

Endearingly called ‘Balayya’ by his countless fans, Balakrishna has successfully carried forward the legacy of his father, thespian and former Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister, the late N.T. Rama Rao (NTR). Balakrishna has successfully carved out his own realm in Telugu filmdom in a career spanning more than four decades.

In the process, he has maintained the NTR clan’s grip over Telugu films and audiences.

Born on June 10, 1960, in Chennai, Balakrishna is the sixth son of Nandamuri Taraka Rama Rao and Basava Tarakam. When he was barely 14 years old, Balakrishna made his debut as a child artiste in 1974 with ‘Tatamma Kala’ which his father had directed.

Ten years later, Balakrishna debuted as a grown up actor in ‘Sahasame Jeevitham’. Thereafter, he went on to star in a variety of films ranging from family entertainers like ‘Mangammagaari Manavadu’ to the pathbreaking Telugu sci-film ‘Aditya 369’, and the hit fantasy movie ‘Bhairavadweepam’.

His 100th movie was ‘Gautamiputra Satakarni’ based on the historical king.

Along the journey, he has picked up three Nandi Awards instituted by the Andhra Pradesh government for cinematic excellence.

However, it was with his powerful roles in factionist movies set in Rayalaseema region of Andhra Pradesh, that Balakrishna acquired cult status. Although Balakrishna had acquired a macho image long before, his portrayal of a man fighting factionism in ‘Samarasimha Reddy’, the eponymous movie transformed him into overnight into a roaring tiger on screen.

According to observers, the on-screen persona seems to have rubbed off on him. Balakrishna has often made it to news headlines for his controversial statements or actions. He is known to slap fans who come to close to him. But fans who have been slapped by their icon in the past have invariably rallied behind him and say they take it as a blessing.

Apart from the movies, Balakrishna is an active politician. He represents the Telugu Desam Party from Hindupur in the Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly. One of his sisters, Bhuvaneshwari is married to former Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu. Another sister Daggubati Puranderswari is a former Union minister and currently a senior BJP leader.

While his two daughters are married, Balakrishna fans are eagerly awaiting the introduction of his son Manogna on the silver screen. His nephew Jr NTR has made his mark in Telugu and is a force to reckon with. Starring along with Ram Charan in ‘RRR’, Jr NTR has become a familiar name across India now.

Looking beyond movies, in recent times, Balakrishna also hosted his own hugely popular talk show ‘NBK’ on Aha.

His bigger than life roles have seen him effortlessly pummel dozens of thugs, brave bullets and knives with impunity, and bleed with a smile for the sake of innocents. It’s a persona that lakhs of Telugu film fans love and adore.

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