When pulled off with panache, cracking a joke is an act of elegance. It is the easiest way to connect with the audience, and you can win them over in a matter of minutes. However, since the issue of humour is so subjective, you never know how a joke is going to come out on screen. For, it might be the greatest joke on paper, but you need an efficient actor to pull it off successfully. And one such shining example through the ages is Rajendra Prasad
In the annals of Telugu cinema, Rajendra Prasad will go down as one of the pillars of Telugu comedy. Keeping us entertained for more than three decades with his wildly varied acts, Rajendra Prasad began his innings in the entertainment industry right from the birth.
Rajendra Prasad was born in the same house as that of Nandamuri Taraka Rama Rao ( NTR ) , and began his career with the visionary director Bapu. Initially starting off with small roles, and an odd full-length role, Rajendra Prasad was trudged along in his career.
It was Vamsy’s Ladies Tailor that shot Rajendra Prasad to instant fame, slowly but surely propelling him into super stardom. A few years later, Jandhyala’s iconic movie Aha Naa Pellanta released, which made him an iconic star, forever etching his memory in the audience’s mind.
His comic timing and mannerisms, ( that peculiar shrugging off shoulder) – became something very unique and singular. While his counterparts chose to provide “much needed” dance routines, run of a mill dramatic stories and very fictionalised romances to the audience, Rajendra Prasad knew what he was biggest strengths were, and continued to provide healthy laughter to Telugu audience. The biggest advantage was that he had a ‘repeat audience’, one that would come again and again to watch his films.
Rajendra Prasad’s choice of films were a genre by themselves. His films never dealt with larger than life themes. The issues in his films were about everyday, common man issues. Whether it was the village tailor who gets trapped between three women, or the man who has to earn 1 lakh to impress the father of the heroine, Rajendra Prasad painted a picture of the Indian rural-side that the audience wasn’t very familiar before him.
He had a very successful actor-director collaborations with almost all the legendary comic directors – Jandhyala, Vamsi, EVV, SV Krishna Reddy, and Relangi Narasimha Rao. His situational comedies were instant hit with the audience not only because they were funny, but also as an Appula Appa Rao or Pekata Papa Rao, they were identifiable. As he grew older, he got even wittier in choosing his work. Aa Naluguru being a classic example. He then proved to the audience that Rajendra Prasad, the actor, was much more than what anyone could’ve anticipated of him.
He has now been continuing his career in acting and also his work as the recently elected MAA President, ( being the first president to be so elected through organised elections ). His transparency and zeal to strive harder for the wellness of the film society is a nice gesture to see from the Rajendra Prasad who has been an actor who has always been exceptional in every role he took up.
This one liner from back in the day, perfectly sums up the phenomenon that Rajendra Prasad was – If a Telugu person ever planned to go and live abroad, he would take with him, only two things – A Jar of Mango Pickle, and a Collection of Rajendra Prasad Movies!!