I liked him as a 22 year old. This was 2002, when the film Manmadhudu released. A restless younger me travelling back from Bangalore over a weekend visiting my parents. I went to watch the film with mom and dad. Honestly, I am more of a Venky fan. I don’t remember when the last time was when I saw Mr Nag so dapper. Tamed. Stylish and smooth. And those effervescent Trivikram’s witty lines to go with his looks. Poetic correlation of the movie also titled as Manmadhudu (The Cupid).
Mel Gibson or no Mel Gibson here, the Tollywood version of What Women Want got me thinking. This is usually what women would want. A dreamy ideal case scenario. A well-groomed man who aspires to be either an honest lover or a complete hater. He also dresses up well and smells great (the latter being figment of imagination). He knows his moves while preaching other young men the perks of being single. Akkineni Nagarjuna’s performance in the film only brought out the soul to the character that was skilfully built for the men and women of the era.
Now, when was the last to last time I saw Nag this very way, I thought. Perhaps, Geethanjali or Nirnayam. After a silent ‘Err’ here and there, Hello Brother or Ninne Pelladutha, max. But the man only transcended from down low to the qualitative high over a period of time. From those unforgettable looks and styling in films like Vicky Dada and the rest, a breakthrough phenomenon called Manmadhudu. He may play all devotional, worshiping lord Venkateshwara in his movies, but I can vouch for a thousand secret female hearts wanting to take the place of one of those two wives, right there on the screen. Human tendencies.
Women went and still go crazy over the guy. The 22 year old from my generation. The other 22 year old from the previous one. The generation after ours. And the one after, positively. He continues to age gracefully, stirring admiration and envy in equal measure. Nag is one romantic affair and an escapade that most fans would find real hard to let go of. Just like that first perfect crush or a size-ably venomous attraction. I could not help but contemplate the possibility of Mrs Nagarjuna having a million female haters, cussing her for being the one. No harm in a little harmless jealousy for a star so wanted, me thinks.
Nagarjuna, the ultimate cupid of Telugu Cinema. He may not be perfect. And yet, he has something definitely. It could be those coy looks that pitch variation from being manly. That half smile with sharp gaze. Ergo, women and girls go weak kneed over the very entry of the gentleman who speaks in a low timbre mixing unique style of his Telugu diction. Or perhaps it was the sum total of the entirety of it. He sports a goatee and the whole younger lot would ape the look instantaneously. No second thoughts there.
So what makes Mr Akkineni Junior the best cut out of all? We can call him the evergreen good looking and attractive man in the industry with a catchy legendary lineage of the ‘A’ tag. He dazzles the crowd with his up to date fashion statement. He struts as though there was nobody else who could do that very thing better. He delivers a line that kinda gets on to the foolhardy yet vulnerable woman looking for silent on screen consolation for all the wrong choices that she had made outside. Her dream man right there, staring down at her and assuring her of the better possibilities. He is different things to different audience.
Nag is undoubtedly the ultimate Manmadhudu of Telugu Film Industry. He had and continues to leave a significant certain some on the people, particularly women. Men who love style adore him. Kids like to watch his movies, in a family to action setting. Women of all age groups love him. He may be a near restful father of two young heart throbs gearing to carry forward that cupid legacy. But Nag makes one entry hosting a regional equivalent of ‘Who Wants To Be A Millionaire’ – and women line up in thousands to get a peek. Be in the set. Or click a photo, maybe. Well, there is nothing written on stone now with anybody. Is there?