- Actor, Director, Writer, Music, Producer, Screenplay, Voice
Mar 26, 1965 in Bangalore, Karnataka, India
Mar 26, 1965 in Bangalore, Karnataka, India
Prakash Raj is one of the finest actors in the film industry who has juggled between movies across several South Indian languages and has managed to create an impact among varied audiences. Along with a strong presence in Kannada, Telugu and Tamil cinema, the actor has gained popularity even in the Bollywood industry with his significant supporting roles. Not only does he have exceptional acting skills, but he has proved his ability to be a praiseworthy director, producer, and television presenter. Known for playing majorly antagonist and character roles, Prakash Raj’s notable performances were seen in the movies Kannathil Muthamittal, Ghilli, Mozhi, Abhiyum Naanum, and M. Kumaran S/O Mahalakshmi.
Prakash was born in Bengaluru, Karnataka in 1965, in a lower-middle-class family to father Manjunath Rai and mother Swarnalatha. He has one brother Prasad Rai, who is also an actor. He did his schooling at St. Joseph's Boys' High School, Bangalore. He then pursued education at St. Joseph's College of Commerce, Bangalore.
Prakash first got married to actress Lalitha Kumari in the year 1994. The couple has two daughters Meghana and Pooja, and had one son Sidhu, who died in 2004 after he fell from a table while flying a kite, sustaining injuries that got severe with time and lead to death. The couple got divorced in 2009. The actor then married choreographer Pony Verma on 24 August 2010. He has one son with Pony, born in 2016.
Prakash Raj made his debut in the 1990 Kannada movie Mithileya Seetheyaru. Even though he was appreciated for his dialogue delivery with his supporting roles in films like Ramachaari, Ranadheera, Nishkarsha and Lockup Death, his breakthrough came with Harakeya Kuri in 1993. He played his first lead role of Badri in the film opposite Vishnuvardhan and Geetha. Prakash Raj was introduced in Tamil cinema by K. Balachander for the 1994 movie Duet, in which he plays the role of a movie superstar. The actor then bagged several Tamil films like Pullakuttikaran, Seethanam and Subash, along with a supporting role in the successful drama film Bombay (1995). However, his noteworthy performance was seen in the 1996 film Kalki, in which he plays the role of an industrialist who ill-treats his wife. His negative role in this movie won him the Tamil Nadu State Film Award for Best Villain. The year also marked his entry into Malayalam cinema with The Prince, once again as a villain, starring superstar Mohanlal in the lead.
Even though he continued to act in several movies, one of his prominent roles was that of Tamilzhchelvan in the Tamil movie Iruvar (1997), for which he won the National Film Award for Best Supporting Actor. This Mani Ratnam's political drama film is loosely based on how cinema and politics in Tamil Nadu are related. In the movie, Prakash plays the role of a writer who grows to become a huge political figure. His popular Kannada movie in the year was Nagamandala (1997), under the direction of T.S. Nagabharana, in which he played the role of an unfaithful husband Appanna. His next award-winning role came in the following year with the Telugu action drama Antahpuram. This Krishna Vamsi's directorial venture garnered Prakash Raj the National Film Award for Best Actor (Special Jury) for his role of Narasimha. Subsequently, the actor made a special appearance in Yaare Neenu Cheluve, and then starred in a prominent role in the romance drama Preethsod Thappa, which was a musical blockbuster.
The actor featured in several Telugu films in 2000, but was highly appreciated for his negative role in the Tamil movie Vaanavil. Even though the movie received only mixed reviews and did not perform well at the box office, Prakash Raj won the Tamil Nadu State Film Award for Best Villain, for his portrayal of a boy who lusts over a girl and tries to attain her forcefully. His other significant role was that of Dr. Herold Vikramasinghe in the musical war drama Kannathil Muthamittal (2002), starring Madhavan, Simran and P. S. Keerthana in the leads, which received huge critical acclaim. Prakash won the ITFA Best Supporting Actor Award for his performance in the movie. He went on to give several award-winning performances in the year in films like Dhaya Nuvve Nuvve and Khadgam.
Amma Nanna O Tamila Ammayi in 2003 fetched him the Nandi Award for Best Character Actor, for his role of a kick-boxing champion who abandons his family for a successful career but later regrets his decision. Prakash Raj reprised his role for the Tamil remake of the movie titled M. Kumaran S/O Mahalakshmi (2004), and gained huge appreciation. The actor then went on to win the Filmfare Award for Best Telugu Supporting Actor for director V. V. Vinayak's Tagore. However, his negative character in the huge box office hit Ghilli gained him widespread recognition among the Tamil audiences. He bagged the Filmfare Award for Best Tamil Villain for his role of Muthu Pandi in the Vijay-Trisha starrer. After praiseworthy performances in movies such as Vasool Raja MBBS, Mass, and Ayya, he once again gained praises for his negative character in Anniyan, which earned him the Tamil Nadu State Film Award for Best Villain. His biggest success in 2005 was the blockbuster Tamil action film Sivakasi that starred Vijay and Asin in the lead roles, with Prakash Raj in the negative role as Udayappa, which won him the Filmfare Award for Best Tamil Villain. Even though he was only nominated at the Vijay Awards for Best Villain for his brilliant portrayal of Ali Bhai in Pokkiri (2007), he showcased excellent comic timing in the romantic comedy film Mozhi, which won him the Vijay Award for Best Supporting Actor.
Prakash Raj then portrayed a serious role in Abhiyum Naanum (2008) as an over-concerned and protective father of Trisha Krishnan's character. This movie too won him an award at the Tamil Nadu State Film Awards for Best Character Artiste (Male). The actor went on to give notable performances in films such as Singam (2010), Payanam and Ko in 2011, Bodyguard (2012) and Chennaiyil Oru Naal (2013). He portrays the struggles of a lower middle-class father to a fourteen-year-old aspiring cricketer in Dhoni (2012) and plays a negative politician in Saguni (2011). In 2015, his notable works included O Kadhal Kanmani, S/O Satyamurthy, and Size Zero, whereas his successes in the next year were Ko 2, Oopiri, and Kadavul Irukaan Kumaru. He also plays a popular criminal lawyer Adhiseshan in the Udhayanidhi Stalin starrer Manithan in 2016. Prakash Raj's 2017 releases include Sathamanam Bhavati, Dwaraka, Yaakkai, Raajakumara and Achayans.
As a producer
Prakash Raj turned producer with the Tamil movie Dhaya in 2002. He then went on to produce several popular movies like Kanda Naal Mudhal, Mozhi, Abhiyum Naanum, Dhoni and Gouravam, being the prominent ones. He also produced the 2011 movie Puttakkana Highway, which went on to win the National Award for Best Regional Film of the year and Bengaluru International Film Festival Award.
As a director
Prakash Raj is not only a successful actor, but also is a multi-talented filmmaker. His directorial debut came with the 2010 Kannada film Naanu Nanna Kanasu, in which he starred as one of two lead actors. He also directed the 2012 drama film Dhoni, in which he plays the father of a son who aspires to become a cricketer. His other directorial ventures include Un Samayal Arayil (2014) and Idolle Ramayana (2016).
Prakash Raj is also quite popular among the television audiences. He has featured in TV series like Guddada Bhootha and Sahana. However, his most appreciated television appearance came with Neengalum Vellalam Oru Kodi, a Tamil game show, which he was the host for.
Prakash Raj owns a film production and distribution company named Duet Movies established in 1999, based in Chennai. The first venture of the company was the movie Anthapuram. Other notable production projects of the company include Dhaya, Mozhi, Abhiyum Naanum, Payanam, Dhoni, Un Samayal Arayil and Idolle Ramayana.