A cinema field is a place of great uncertainties. There are times when one is not quite sure of where one fits in. People who are most susceptible to such problems in their careers are lead actors. Simply because of the reason that a lead actor cannot remain so forever. There will come a time when one has to step down and reassess where one stands. One’s role is not clear in the big scheme of things and as a result, there is indecisiveness as to what to do. We have seen many great actors experiencing this syndrome where they lose their equilibrium and are unsure of their roles until they regain it. Few classic cases from Kollywood and Tollywood to explain this syndrome would be Satyaraj, Prabhu, Rahman, Jagapathi Babu, Rajendra Prasad and Naresh.
Jagapathi Babu: A leading hero in his days, there was a lull period in the early 2000s which saw him lose his winning touch as a lead actor. What precipitated that lull is another question. For a brief while, Jagapathi Babu was around trying to revive his prospects as a hero once again. But, he was unsure of the path to follow, a few flops later he took time off from the big screen. Maybe realizing that his calling was in a richer variety of roles, he re-launched himself as an able antagonist, first in Legend, followed by Srimanthudu, and NannakuPrematho. Audiences and producers, however, took the time to get acclimatized to the idea of Jagapathi Babu as a supporting actor. Now, the equilibrium has been re-established in favor of Jagapathi Babu.
Other prominent actors who have undergone similar phases in their career are many and one such more actor is Rajendra Prasad. There was a time in the late 80s and 90s when he ruled the industry as a comedy hero and was quite a close competitor to star heroes.
But, for inexplicable reasons, he soon lost his grip as a leading actor. However, he was quick to readapt to changing situations and resurfaced soon as an actor in the second lead role not shying away from supporting roles. After an initial period of success faded out for a few years. The way he returned spoke volumes about his ability to adapt and leave the past behind him, playing character roles such as the one in Aa Naluguru until the recent Srimanthudu and NannakuPrematho.
Naresh is another actor who parallelly competed with Rajendra Prasad as a comedy hero. He tasted huge success as the hero with movies like Naalugu Sthambalata, Chitram Bhalare Vichitram, and Kokila and has rediscovered his worth as an able character actor with movies like AndhariBandhuvaya, Drushyam, and Brahmotsavam.
It has been said that ‘the only thing that is constant in life is change’. Times change and one has to change with the times. Especially in cinema where appearances matter a lot, it is inevitable that an actor is alert even to the slightest wind of change. More importantly, an actor has to be willing to adapt instead of holding on to the past.
Few of the Tamil actors too have gone through similar phases of their careers.
Prabhu who carries the legacy of the legendary Sivaji Ganeshan was a top hero during his hey days. A few debacles later, he took the time to regain his lost glory and slowly shifted to second lead or character roles. But he seems to be fixated with the idea of playing a good man on screen all the time. Wonder how this is going to help him exhibit his talents.
Satyaraj belongs to a completely different school of thought. The actor who was a trendsetting villain before he started accepting hero roles is completely at ease doing comic roles. Moreover, he can at any time transform himself into a villain….and if that happens that will be a big boon for Tamil Cinema.
Another hero who did a great comeback Rahman popularly known as Raghu in Telugu. Despite nearing 50s, age has not withered the actors looks nor his charm. Rahman has retained the grace and youthful exuberance that made him a teenage sensation of Malayalam cinema in the Eighties.
Interestingly all these 3 actors are the most-wanted character artists in Tamil and Telugu cinema and it’s Satyaraj who brought the stardom to character roles with movies like Mirchi, Baahubali, and Brahmotsavam.
One thing is certain in this world….the only thing that can be constant at all times is change itself and one should get adapted to the changes to survive.