Varsham, the movie which catapulted Prabhas to stardom, also helped its antagonist, Gopichand, a tall dark handsome man, reach stardom. Gopichand’s role of Bhadranna, a local don, was well received by the audience as equally as that of Prabhas’.
Gopichand had a legacy to continue as the son of late revolutionary filmmaker T. Krishna, who made landmark movies like Pratighatana and Neti Bharatham. Gopichand made his debut with a hero subject, Tholi Valapu, an unusual love story of Prem and Soumya. Gopichand was a novice and showed promise in the movie as a young biker who accidentally falls in love with Soumya, played by the lead actress, Sneha. The movie released in 2001 to a mixed response.
Given his tall and muscular frame, Gopichand wanted to experiment like his father, who played more of an antagonist role in his movies. Hence Gopichand began to appear in dreaded villain roles in his movies like Teja’s Jayam and Nijam. Gopichand was pitted against the prospective superstar in Tollywood, Mahesh Babu, in Nijam and newcomer Nithiin in Jayam.
Whoever be the hero, Gopichand stood out with his excellent performances in these movies, which made him the go to man for villain roles. Varsham happened and on a personal level, Gopichand started a long lasting friendship with the leading man, Prabhas.
The great leap: Gopichand as a leading hero
Gopichand realized he can sustain in the industry only if he experiments with hero roles and not get typecast as a villain. Thus started his rebirth in a different avatar.
One can classify his image after Yagnam (2004,) as that of an action hero, who excelled at all the genres of movies occasionally.
We look at the top five movies in which Gopichand showed variety in his roles and did well to garner praise of both the critics and the general audience.
- Okkadunnadu (2007)
The conman drama had Gopichand play a man who sells his land to an agent, played by Neha Jhulka. The Chandra Sekhar Yeleti film showed a soft angle of the action hero Gopichand was. The movie proved Gopichand has more than what the eye catches, as an action hero.
- Lakshyam (2007)
This movie gave Gopichand the image of an angry young man who takes up goons with aplomb. The pair of Anushka and Gopichand became a hit with the audience. The movie itself became a buzzword for Gopichand in Tollywood for quite some time.
- Golimaar (2010)
This Puri Jagannath movie put Gopichand on a level equal to Mahesh Babu and Prabhas, in a Puri hero mould. Loosely based on the life of an encounter specialist, Daya Nayak, the movie presented Gopichand in a vigilante role, a role in which he was never seen before in his career. His and Priyamani’s chemistry was the talk of the town in Tollywood. The movie was well received by the audience and cemented his place as an action hero.
- Sahasam (2013)
This movie belonged to an entirely different genre—action adventure. The Chandra Sekhar Yeleti movie was about the lost temple of Devi Hinglaj, a Devi shrine in Indian mythology, geographically separated by boundaries and located in Pakistan. The film is noted for its tight screenplay and its cinematography.
- Goutham Nanda (2017)
Thematically, the movie was a new genre for Gopichand. He played a dual role in the movie, for the first time. As Goutham and Nanda, Gopichand showed a variation second to none. The movie proved Gopichand can play a variety of roles, given a good script and a great ambience.
With his suspense drama Chanakya ready for release in 2019, Gopichand is still experimenting with his roles. It is heartening to see his never say die spirit and his eagerness to explore roles, shoulder to shoulder with his younger contemporaries.