Rolling stone Prabhu Deva
Prabhu Deva  

‘A rolling stone gathers no moss’ -- a proverb of immense wisdom that has survived the ages. One does not know whether this holds true even in today’s world. being static can make one a ‘sitting duck’. Those who have read Dr. Spencer Johnson’s ‘Who moved my cheese’ will be able to relate to this sentiment more easily. We all have heard about the music troupe Rolling Stones that has achieved great success over the decades.

Here we look at a man who has shown great flair for change. He has never hung around doing the same thing for very long in his career. Prabhu Deva began as a dancer, his flexibility was such that he soon started getting the spotlight in special numbers of many prominent films. ‘Lalakku dol dappima’ from Suriyan, ‘Ada raasave’ from Walter Vetrivel and ‘Chikku bukku raile’ from Gentleman are unforgettable performances from the Indian ‘Michael Jackson’. (There have also been a few die hard fans of the dancer who would rather refer to Michael Jackson as the ‘American Prabhu Deva’). The last of these put him in the

frame of Sankar and ‘Kadhalan’ happened. Dancer and choreographer till then, he became an overnight star. There are those who believe that it was purely his dancing skills that sustained him as a lead actor. While, that thought is not without reason (we expected at least one frenetic dance number in every Prabhu Deva movie), it would also amount to doing injustice to the actor in Prabhu Deva. A dancer by profession (or by birth, as some say), he molded himself well into his new found responsibilities.

But his luck as an actor seemed to run out towards the end of the 20th century. It is as if things were not coming together for him as before to deliver the box office hit. But he did not sit on his earlier successes or current failures. Before you knew it, he had delivered a superhit in Telugu as a director. He came to Kollywood and gave us Pokkiri, he has also directed Telugu’s megastar Chiranjeevi in Shankar Dada Zindabad, remake of Lage Raho Munna Bhai (which might well have been Chiranjeevi’s last movie, he has ventured into politics since) and an average grossing Pournami with Prabas and Trisha in the lead. Villu is the first real blemish in his movies as director.

The point is that Prabhu Deva has never been predictable, always surprising us by turning to things that we never thought he would do. It was tough to imagine that the young guy prancing around; behaving like a teenager in Engal Anna (2004) would turn into a director hardly 2 years later. Prabhu Deva has been quite a rolling stone, but it would be wrong to say that he has gathered no moss. He started as dancer, turned choreographer, had a fairly successful stint as actor and has now become director. What next? The one thing that he has always kept close to himself is dance. Even after turning an actor and then director, he did not stop being a choreographer, nor did he stop doing dance numbers in some movies.

Prabhu Deva has played the fine balancing act. He has been a rolling stone, but not severed ties with his first love, dance. He has always smelt ‘fresh cheese’ and moved along and has managed his career quite beautifully. But as a Prabhu Deva fan, there is one thing that should be said, ‘we would love to see you on screen again’.

(By Sudhakar, with inputs from Arun Gopinath.)

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