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RRR’s Ram Charan Turns 37



Ramcharan and NTR

Telugu  superstar  Ram Charan couldn’t have hoped  for a better  birthday gift than Rajamouli’s RRR. The  letter ‘R’ has played an  important  part in his career. In RRR his turn as  a cop  during the British Raj who changes loyalties  with  a sweeping smooth celerity  is  one of  the  film’s highlights. The hard work that has gone into  the  performance is  evident in every  frame.

Ram Charan  is not  a great actor. But he has worked hard  to  prove he  is more than the legendary Chiranjeevi’s son.

 In remember  in 2013  when he made his disastrous  debut  in Hindi with Zanjeer, Ram Charan  was not fluent in Hindi,  the actor took rigorous Hindi classes.

Transforming himself in  front of the  audience is a special skill that Ram Charan  has  nurtured. In his career’s best performance in Rangasthalam,there  was  something enormously endearing about  the  Telugu  superstar trying to shed his image , to get into the skin of his character  the way, say, Uttam Kumar did in Satyajit Ray’s Nayak or Rajesh Khanna in Basu Bhattacharya’s Aavishkar. In  RangashthalamRam Charan  transforms in  front of  our eyes. It is  almost like watching a  magic show where the entire appearance of the actor undergoes  a sea-change as we gawk in open-mouthed  amazement…Except that,  here Ram  is not ostentatious  in his mutation. He changes  his personality, yes. But in doing so he makes sure he merges  into rustic rugged violent milieu of  injustice and  inequality where one man plays an evil God.As the partially disabled  docile shy and  goodhearted Chitti Babu he is a hero unlike any other: vulnerable and sensitive, prone to defeat  if push comes to shove but not embarrassed  to be pushed against the wall, willing to take the  punch on the  chin.

 Most  of  the dramatic conflict is generated  in tandem,  with Ram sharing screen space unconditionally with his screen brother , played by Adhi Panisetty.When Ram is with his brother he is tender.When he is with his beloved, he  is  super-tender.Emotions are  not concealed in a false sense  of machismo that screen heroes  often suffer from.There is no effort to take over the show, to emerge as an  unvanquished conquerer. Ram   remains almost flawlessly in character: diffident and  disarmingly disingenuous,valiant but not fearless. This underplayed heroic dimension to large-screen heroism  is the film’s greatest strength.

Even in Dhruva where  Ram Charan  played a  cop(again!)   he  had to  beef up for the part. He  built a  physique   that the film required. Unfortunately  Dhruva  came  at the time when the country was  hit by demonetization.The  audience  was just not in the mood to spend on movie tickets. So  Dhruva suffered.

Ram admitted  Rangasthalam was  a new beginning for him. The superstar of Andhra who made his acting debut in 2007 admitted   Rangasthalam was  a first  for him on many levels. He had  never played a rural character before. In fact he  had never stayed in a village  before, though he had   visited  his  native village with his father(Telugu cinema’s legend Chiranjeevi)  a few times.

Ram also spent considerable  time  understanding  his character’s physical  disability. “I spent  five  months understanding the character’s body language and  his  hearing disability . Since  I had never played a rustic character before I wanted to ensure I got it right. I didn’t want my portrayal to look  superficial.With Rangashthalam I’ve entered  a more realistic  phase of acting.  I hope to do more such  roles in future.”

The  process of transformation that  began  in  Rangasthalam has now  reached a full fruition in RRR.

In   2012 Ram married   Upasana Kamineni, the vice-chairman of Apollo chain of hospitals . In an interview he   did with me hours  before the  wedding  Ram  said, “ I can’t tell you what it is like. Upaasna is already my wife in my mind and heart .”

The couple went through two weddings.The first wedding was  on June 14 morning at Upaasna’s farmhouse in Hyderabad, And the second wedding was   the next morning at the same venue. The wedding on June 14 was for family and friends. It was   attended by around 4,000 people, mostly fans.

Salman  Khan also  attended  the wedding.

  About being married, Ram Charan  said, “I feel a man, when married, becomes more balanced. All the extra-curricular activities are done away with. The focus is on work and family. I am getting married young. I’ve known Upaasna for seven years. She was my best friend. Then we started dating two years back. So I am marrying my best friend. I can’t ask for more. I sometimes ask her to switch off the wifely side and listen to me as a friend. She knows which buttons to press.You know, when I told her I am building a separate home for us at the Golf Course area for us to live in after marriage, she put her foot down. She insists we stay with my parents.She says she can’t handle me alone. She needs my parents’ help. That was below the belt.”

Ram Charan  has never been daunted by his father’s success. “When I started in Telugu cinema in 2007, I was judged as the great Chiranjeevi’s son. If I cowered, thinking I was being seen only as an heir-apparent and not an individual, I’d have been immobilised. I just did what came naturally to me.”

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