Happy birthday, Mahesh Babu! Here’s why the Telugu star’s decision to collaborate with SS Rajamouli is a wise, measured move in this pan-India contest

Mahesh Babu is celebrating his birthday in Scotland with his family on August 9. The actor used Instagram to show his fans how he and his wife, Namrata Shirodkar, enjoyed the fireworks at their hotel. Sitara and Gautam Ghattamaneni, their children, accompany them. 

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On Wednesday, Mahesh Babu will celebrate his 48th birthday with much fanfare. His next film will be Trivikram Srinivas’ Guntur Karam, followed by SS Rajamouli’s.

When a Telugu filmmaker hires Mahesh Babu for a film, the enthusiasm level rises naturally, but when news of a filmmaker like SS Rajamouli joining up with Mahesh broke, the excitement level skyrocketed. Because of their combined brand value, Mahesh and Rajamouli create an intriguing director-actor pair in the Telugu cinema business. While the actor is renowned to govern the Telugu states, Rajamouli has a global profile thanks to the RRR excitement and Oscar victory. Is this a sign that Mahesh is ready to expand his horizons and go pan-India?

Mahesh made his acting debut in the 1979 film Needa, the son of superstar Krishna and his wife Indira Devi. Raja Kumarudu (1999) was his debut film as a mature actor, and there was no looking back. While he provided superhit Telugu films like Pokiri, Athadu, and Dookudu, he has always stuck inside his Telugu territory, unlike his colleagues Ram Charan, Allu Arjun, Prabhas, Rana Daggubati, and even megastar Chiranjeevi, who have tried with Hindi films.

During a press conference in 2022, Mahesh famously stated, “I don’t need to do Hindi films.” That’s what’s happening right now: I can just make a Telugu film and it’ll be viewed all over the world. You’d like to be able to do (just) Telugu films.” The actor is well-known for his passion for cinema, and it is often assumed among his colleagues that everything he does stems from this passion. Producer Sharath Chandra, who worked as a co-producer on Mahesh’s 2022 film Major, describes his decision-making process.

“From my experience working with Mahesh sir, I believe he is a passionate film lover,” he told indianexpress.com. Films consume the majority of his time, thoughts, and emotions, and are the only thing he thinks about. Even as a producer, I don’t recall ever hearing him mention money. He exclusively speaks about artists. That influences every decision he makes and the actions he does. I believe it is the foundation of everything, and it is due to his unwavering enthusiasm and hard work that he is a superstar.”

So it appears that the actor’s decision to collaborate with Rajamouli was not made hastily; in fact, Rajamouli is the only filmmaker who can safely push the actor outside of his comfort zone.

Ramesh Bala, a film critic based in Chennai, decodes the actor’s action, saying, “If you look at Rajamouli’s films, Baahubali and RRR have done well in Telugu.” Prabhas in Baahubali and Ram Charan and Jr NTR embarked on a pan-India tour after their films were released. It hasn’t hurt them; rather, it has helped them cement their Telugu base, and both films performed well across India. So, Mahesh Babu has Rajamouli as his home base. He is a Telugu celebrity, and Rajamouli is also from the Telugu business, therefore the plan will be Telugu plus the rest of India because of Brand Rajamouli.”

The 2017 Tamil-Telugu bilingual Spyder, directed by AR Murugadoss, was the sole exception to Mahesh’s adoration for his Telugu success run. Mahesh is finally on his way to Hindi-speaking countries, as well as other Southern major languages, with his Rajamouli flick. The actor is going to enter the Hindi film industry, something he has avoided doing for many years.

“It would be a completely different story if he made his debut with Karan Johar or another Bollywood Hindi director.” Then he’d ditch his Telugu origins entirely and focus only on performing in Hindi films. However, Rajamouli and Mahesh Babu are both from Hyderabad and the Telugu cinema business, thus they are not the same. So, perhaps, he will be required to promote the picture in Mumbai and throughout India. “With this setup, he will certainly be expanding even in the South; everything will be new for him,” Ramesh says.

Mahesh Babu will undoubtedly be treading uncharted waters for an actor who has never been promoted or participated in any manner in Bollywood. However, the celebrity need not be concerned because he already has tremendous brand value.

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“I think Mahesh Babu has already cultivated a strong fan base in the Hindi belt,” trade expert Taran Adarsh says. Though he has mostly worked in Telugu films his whole life, people now have access to OTT. So, like Allu Arjun and Prabhas, Mahesh Babu has a sizable fan base. Those who enjoy watching Telugu films, such as me, believe he is a full actor. Of course, he is gifted with amazing looks, but his persona, screen presence, action, and dances make him a full package. I believe he understands how to play to his talents in any role you assign him.”

V Vijayendra Prasad wrote the much-anticipated film, which he previously described as a “globe-trotting action entertainer.” It’ll be similar to a James Bond or Indiana Jones picture but with Indian roots.”

Axpert Media News Desk
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