Telugu cinema’s ‘Power Star’, style icon and social reformer — Pawan Kalyan manages to fit into each descriptor seamlessly.
As he turned 50 on Thursday, the day has been seeing a frenzy of celebrations across Tollywood and beyond — his fans are organising birthday parties in his honour; as many as 100 theatres across Andhra Pradesh and Telangana are running the re-release of his blockbuster movie ‘Gabbar Singh’; there’s been a song launch from his latest movie outing; and of course, celebrity best wishes for the star are trending on social media.
“Many many happy returns of the day to my @PawanKalyan garu. May this day and the coming year bring you more n more peace and happiness,” tweeted Allu Arjun. Others who joined in included his nephews, fellow actors and public figures.
When he set out on his Tollywood career, Pawan Kalyan was more famous as ‘Megastar’ Chiranjeevi’s kid brother. But over the years, ‘Power Star’ Pawan Kalyan is a big name in his own right.
The heart-throb of movie-goers and the youth icon of Telugu land, Konidela Kalyan Babu, better known as Pawan Kalyan, has donned many hats with panache, and continues to do so. Actor, director, writer, producer, real-life do-gooder, Pawan Kalyan has been there and done it all.
Born on September 2, 1970, in Bapatla, Andhra Pradesh, the third son of a police official, Pawan Kalyan watched from the wings as his eldest brother Chiranjeevi clawed his way to the top rungs of Telugu filmdom.
Surprisingly, it was not acting but directing that caught young Pawan Kalyan’s fancy. But he made his acting debut in 1996 with ‘Akkada Abbayi, Ikkada Ammaayi’, which did not create much of an impact at the box-office.
Unfazed by this initial setback, he went on to deliver hits such as ‘Gokulamlo Seeta’ and ‘Suswagatam’. By this time, the audiences, especially youngsters, started empathising with his laconic portrayals of young people and their emotional issues.
With the superhit ‘Tholi Prema’ in 1998, Pawan Kalyan had truly arrived and there has been no looking back since then — no matter what. A series of hit movies such as ‘Thammudu’, ‘Badri’ and ‘Khushi’ only added to his allure.
Not content with acting, he dabbles in other departments of filmmaking, notably choreographing movie stunts.
Pawan Kalyan has always come forward to help people in distress, whether they belong to the film industry or not. He is also known to not mince words when he believes an injustice has been committed.
Known to be an introvert and somewhat of a recluse, Pawan Kalyan is known to bury himself in books. He also loves farming and tries his hand at it whenever he gets the opportunity. An intensely private person, but he has never shied away from responding to detractors making snide comments on his three marriages.
In 2013, he married Anna Lezhneva, who acted with him in ‘Teen Maar’. They have a son and a daughter. Pawan Kalyan also has a son and daughter from his previous marriage with Renu Desai, who starred with him in Telugu movies.
In recent years, his movies, such as ‘Gabbar Singh’, ‘Attaarintiki Daaredi’ and ‘Katamarayudu’ have kept the box-office and his fans asking for more. His latest big-screen outing, ‘Vakeel Saab’, which is a remake of the Hindi movie ‘Pink’, reflected his grip on the box office yet again. At present, he is busy with his upcoming film, ‘Bheemla Nayak’.
Even as he rules the roost in Telugu movies, it is politics where Pawan intends to leave his mark. His first foray into politics was in 2008, along with his brother Chiranjeevi, who had floated the ‘Praja Rajyam’ party. Pawan Kalyan was then heading the party’s youth wing.
That stint ended after the party’s merger with the Congress. From there on, Pawan Kalyan has been ploughing his own furrow in Andhra politics.
Setting up the Jana Sena Party (JSP) in 2014, he made his inclinations clear with his slogan ‘Congress Hatao, Desh Bachao’ in the aftermath of Andhra Pradesh bifurcation and formation of Telangana.
He penned ‘Ism’, a book of his thoughts around which his party’s philosophy centres. Although he had entered into an alliance with the BJP, the JSP didn’t field candidates for the 2014 Assembly polls in Andhra Pradesh.
Pawan Kalyan was the star campaigner for the BJP-TDP combine in the 2014 assembly and parliamentary elections. The combine won and formed the first government in the residuary state of Andhra Pradesh.
But cracks began to appear in the alliance and the three parties, fighting separately in the 2019 assembly elections, gave way to the YSRCP led by the Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister, Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy. Pawan Kalyan lost in both the assembly constituencies he contested from.
Since then, the JSP and BJP have revived their alliance, and are working to establish themselves as serious contenders for ruling the state. On his birthday, the JSP has launched a social media campaign targeting the miserable state of roads in Andhra Pradesh.
For the moment though, Pawan Kalyan walks the tightrope between Tinseltown and politics. With age on his side, is he the elusive leader that Andhra Pradesh, after its tryst with thespian and former chief minister N.T. Rama Rao, is longing for? Only time will answer this million-dollar question.
(Narendra Puppala can contacted at email@example.com)