There were new heroes coming, heroines as usual were being imported every now and then. New villains were also making their entries and getting noticed, but with all of them, the only source of relief or laughs was the same bunch of comic actors.
No doubt, they excelled in their work – Ali, Brahmi, Venu Madhav, MS, Dharmavarapu etc. But this was the only department which didn’t see commendable actors who made it big, until the arrival of Sunil.
His one liners, comedy timing, brisk Bhimavaram dialect, body language and his own style of making those sounds got him instant recognition with the audience. But not many know the real story of Sunil. He started as a struggler from Krishnanagar. His friends were RP Patnaik and Trivikram Srinivas.
When Trivikram started making films, he ensured every film had a scene with Sunil. Some of them were small roles – like Banti in Nuvvu Naaku Nachchav. But Sunil owned the scenes! He shot to fame so instantly that, an entry of his in the movie made the audience whistle and hoot. Starting off with Nuvvekavali, and achieving recognition with Nuvvu Nenu, Sunil quickly became a regular in most big budget films.
His roles in Sontham as Seshu-the Buss, in Dubai Seenu as Trimurthulu, in Ready as Janaki or Pendhurthi Babu in Peddababu further cemented his place. Around the same time, Trivikram Srinivas had acquired cult status for his one-liners and soul-stirring dialogues. And every role he gave to Sunil, turned out to be a comedic gem.
The life of a comedian, once you’re established, is more or less risk-free. Before Sunil, his seniors Brahmanandam and Ali had shown the way. They had been doing comic roles for nearly three decades. It would have been a secure, comfortable life.
But Sunil chose a different path.
Sunil – The Hero
Sunil ventured into solo hero films. It was a gigantic risk, and not something that had been tried earlier. But first, he had to get fit. If he was to make a fresh start, he had to get fit. Sunil got himself a toned body – complete with six packs.
He made his first full length film as Andala Ramudu with Aarti Agarwal. After reducing his appearances on screen, he later signed Maryada Ramanna, an atypical Rajamouli film. Both Sunil and Rajamouli were taking a risk, and it paid rich dividends. It made the audiences believe that a comic hero could be as effective if the story was solid. Probably by this time Sunil got bored of getting slapped, or slipping and falling in the gutter.
The only thing with his full time movies is, he will be seen in comic situations and his characterization will also be something related to comedy. His hard work to tone himself into good shape was very well appreciated, but since then he hasn’t tasted any great success. His role in Thadaka as fearful police officer brother who bounces back later as a stronger person makes you wonder if he was the same guy who was cracking silly jokes.
It’s been nearly a decade since Sunil transformed into a hero, and the audience’s reaction has been a mixed bag. On the streets and outside cinema halls, the talk is still divided. Should he have ventured into heroic roles? Or should he have remained in comedy – the line that earned him his bread and butter?
Personally, it is a difficult place to be.
As an actor, you want to do a variety of roles. Imagine you’re in a cricket team, and you bat at No.6. Suddenly, you get a chance to open the innings, and spearhead the bowling attack. Would you refuse the offer?
As an actor, Sunil must probably want larger, more meaningful roles. But it is upto directors to find him stories that display more shades to the actor in him.
What do you prefer?
Sunil the Hero. Or Sunil the Comedian? Tell us in the Comments section below.