A veteran star in the South Indian film industry, Veeramachaneni Jagapati Rao Chowdary better known by screen name, Jagapati Babu is a renowned actor who has made name for himself in the Telugu, Tamil. Kannada and Malayalam film industries. With over 120 feature films to his credit, he is a stalwart actor in every sense of the word and the various honors and awards including 7 state Nandi Awards and 2 Filmfare Awards only underpins his superstar status. In a career spanning over 25 years, Jagapati Babu has worked with noted directors like S.V. Krishna Reddy, Ram Gopal Varma, K. Raghavendra Rao, Krishna Vamsi, and M. Raja.
Born in Machilipatnam, Andhra Pradesh, India, Jagapti Babu is the son of the veteran producer and director in the Telugu cinema industry, V. B. Rajendra Prasad. The actor grew up in Chennai before eventually making his mark in the Telugu cinema.
Jagapati Babu’s illustrious journey in the film industry began in 1974 as he made his acting debut with Manchi Manushulu as a child artist. The film directed and produced by his father, V.B. Rajendra Prasad was the remake of the super hit Hindi film Aa Gale Lag Jaa starring Shashi Kapoor, Sharmila Tagore, Om Prakash and Shatrughan Sinha. 15 years later, the actor made his debut as the lead in director V. Madhusudhan Rao’s crime film, Simha Swapnam. The film co-starring Krishnam Raju, Jayasudha, and Vani Vishwanath and Shantipriya did not fare well at the box-office. In the same year, the actor appeared in the adventure thriller Telugu film, Adavilo Abhimanyudu where he played the role of an Indian Army Captain.
Coming into the 1990s, Jagapati Babu was still very much a newbie in the cine Industry and was struggling to make his mark. In his first movie of the year, 1990 Jagapati starred in directed Vaasi Reddy’s drama film titled Chinnari Muddula Papa, which was the remake of the 1987 English film Three Men and a Baby. The film co-starring Sudhakar, and Sivaji Raja was later remade in Hindi as Heyy Babyy in 2007. Although the movie got decent reviews, it did not get Jagapati enough attention. In his relentless struggle to make it big in the film industry, Jagapati continued to toil hard and in 1991 he appeared three films, viz. Pandirimancham, Parishkaram, and Jagannatakam but success eluded him.
In 1992, the actor had quite a busy year as he had six releases to his name. In his bid to do something different in his career, Jagapati tried acting in different genres of films. He appeared in a patriotic film titled Raguluthunna Bharatham directed by Allani Sridhar as well as starred in a psychological thriller film Asadhyulu directed by G. Yomen. The later film also starring the National Award winning actress, Shobana and Suresh appealed to the masses largely because of its music, which was composed by the stalwart music director Ilaiyaraaja. His other films of the year were, Sahasam, Asadhyulu, Peddarikam, Balamakrishnulu and Mother India.
By 1993, Jagapati Babu was a popular actor and his popularity increased manifold as he starred in the hit political thriller Telugu film, Gaayam, which was directed by the noted Bollywood director, Ram Gopal Varma. The film co-starring Urmila Matondkar and Revathi got positive reviews from both audiences as well as the critics and Jagapati for his stellar performance won the Nandi Awards for Best Actor. The following year in 1994, the actor had five releases first of which was Bhale Pellam, a Telugu remake of the Tamil film Purusha Lakshanam. Later in the same year, the actor starred in S.V. Krishna Reddy directed hit Telugu film, Shubhalagnam. The film co-starring Aamani and Roja in the lead roles won two Filmfare Awards and later it was remade in Tamil as Irattai Roja and in Hindi as Judaai with Anil Kapoor, Sridevi and Urmila Matondkar in the lead roles.
Over the next couple of years from 1995 to 1997, Jagapati Babu had 17 releases out which five films were remakes of either English or Tamil films and two films were inspired by a novel. His most notable performance came in Dongata (1997), which was the remake of the popular and hit Hollywood film French Kiss starring Meg Ryan and Kevin Kline. In the same year, he starred in Chilakapachcha Kaapuram alongside Meena and Soundarya and the film was recorded as a box office hit. The following year, Jagapati Babu continued working in the remakes as he starred in Pelli Kanuka, which was the remake of the popular Bollywood film Pardes starring Shah Rukh Khan and Mahima Chaudhary. The film directed by Kodi Ramakrishna emerged to be a blockbuster at the box office. His next film of the year was Pelli Peetalu, which was the Telugu remake of the Malayalam film Ee Puzhayum Kadannu. The actor had three other releases in the year, viz. Anthapuaram, Srimathi Vellostha, and Aaha.
In his first release on the year in 1999, director Bhimaneni Srinivasa Rao cast Jagapati Babu in his Telugu romance film Swapnalokam. The film, which was the remake of the Shah Rukh Khan, Suchitra Krishnamoorthi, and Deepak Tijori starred Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa was an average earner at the box office. Jagapati’s four other releases in the year, viz. Manasulo Maata, Alluduggaru Vachcharu, Ravoyi Chandamama and Samudra were mostly average hits. The actor had a mixed year in 2000 in terms of his films meeting with contrasting results. While his first film in the new millennium titled Manoharam brought success in the form of a Best Actor award at the state Nandi Awards, his other film of the year Bachi directed by Puri Jagannadh was a box office flop.
In 2001, Jagapati Babu starred in Budget Padmanabhan, a Telugu remake of the Tamil film with the same name. The film directed by S.V. Krishna Reddy also featured Ramya Krishnan in the lead role. Just like the Tamil film, the remake also received mixed to positive reviews. His next film of the year was a comedy film titled Family Circus; the film co-starring Rajendra Prasad and Roja got average reviews. Jagapati Babu ended the year on a high as his last film Hanuman Junction co-starring Arjun, Sneha, Laya and Vijaylakshmi was highly praised by the critics. The film was later dubbed in Tamil as Singakottai.
Riding high on a successful year in 2001, the actor continued his success in 2002. His first movie of the year, Siva Rama Raju was a remake of the Tamil film Samudhiram. The film co-starring Nandamuri Harikrishna, Sivaji, Kanchi Kaul and Monica fared decently at the box office and Jagapati for his role as Siva Rama Raju got praises from the critics as well as the audience. His second and only other film of the year Sandade Sandadi was also a remake of a Kannada film titled Kothigalu Saa Kothigalu. The film directed by Muppalaneni Siva was a box office hit and it was later remade in Hindi as Shaadi No. 1 starring Sanjay Dutt, Fardeen Khan, Zayed Khan, Sharman Joshi, Esha Deol, Soha Ali Khan, Riya Sen, Aarti Chhabria, and Sophie Choudry. Jagapati Babu’s next major hit came in 2003 when he starred in the box office hit film Dham directed by Raju Voopati. The film co-starring Sonia Agarwal and Nandamuri Chaitanya showcases how a couple who get separated are united by their friends.
Between 2004 and 2005 the actor had seven releases but only three of them viz Kushi Kushiga (2004), Anukoukunda Oka Roju (2005) and That is Pandu (2006) were hits while other flopped at the box office. Anukoukunda Oka Roju deserves a special mention because the Telugu Neo-Noir mystery thriller was a heroine-oriented film. The film directed by Chandra Sekhar Yeleti also featured Charmme Kaur, Pavan Malhotra and Shashank in the pivotal roles. Following its immaculate success, the film was later remade in Hindi as Sunday starring Ayesha Takia, Ajay Devgn, Arshad Warsi and Irrfan Khan. The actor’s next major hit came in 2007 as he starred in director Srivass’ Telugu film titled Lakshyam. The film was not only a box office hit but it also won Jagapati Babu a Nandi Award as well as Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actor.
Following his success with Lakshaym, the actor next appeared in Swagatam, a 2008 film directed by Dasarath. The film co-starring Anushka Shetty and Bhumika Chawla in the lead roles despite its big budget failed at the box office. His next Nagaram, an action film directed by C.C. Srinivas also failed at the box office. With first two films failing at the box office, Jagapati Babu made a solid comeback with a Thriller film titled Homam directed by the noted director J.D. Chakravarthy. The film featuring an ensemble cast including Mamta Mohandas, Madhurima Tuli, J.D Chakravarthy, Mahesh Manjrekar and Pradeep Rawat received positive reviews with Rediff.com quoting “Chakravarthy has done a good job but it must be said, he fared far better as an actor than as a director.”
After the much success of Homam, the actor next featured in Siddham, a Telugu remake of the popular and Hindi film Ab Tak Chappan. The movie directed by J.D. Chakravarthy had Jagapati Babu playing the role of an encounter specialist in Hyderabad who goes about killing the notorious gangsters nonchalantly. Both the Hindi and the Telugu versions were produced by Ram Gopal Varma. The actor had four more releases in the year, viz. Adhineta, Bangaru Babu, Ninnu Kalisaka and Pravarakhyudu but none created any buzz at the box office. With back to back failures in 2009, the actor continued his struggle for a hit in 2010. His first movie of the year, Maa Nanna Chiranjeevi, a Telugu remake of the super hit Hollywood film The Pursuit of Happyness starring Will Smith and his son, Jaden Smith. However, unlike the original version, the film despite is pre-release hyped failed at the box office. After the debacle of Maa Nanna Chiranjeevi, Jagapati Babu’s next two films in the same year, Sadyam and Gaayam 2 failed at the box office.
In 2011, Jagapati appeared in a Telugu Historical drama film Jai Bolo Telangana, which was based on the Telangana Movement. The film directed by N. Shankar was screened at the 6th edition South Asian Film Festival that was held in Goa and it went on to win five Andhra Pradesh state Nandi Awards including the Sarojini Devi Award for a Film on National Integration. His other films in 2011 including Chattam, Nagaram Nidrapotunna Vela, Kshetram and Key either received mixed or poor reviews. The following year, Jagapati Babu made his debut in a Tamil film with Thaandavam co-starring Vikram, Anushka Shetty, Amy Jackson and Raai Laxmi. The film directed by A.L. Vijay and produced by Ronnie Screwvala and Siddharth Roy Kapur opened to positive reviews and was commercially successful. His next major hit came in 2014 as he starred in the Telugu rom-com Current Theega alongside Manchu Manoj, Rakul Preet Singh, and Sunny Leone. The film which is the remake of the Tamil film, Varuthapadatha Valibar Sangam got mostly positive reviews and was declared a box office hit. In the same year, Jagapati Babu appeared in a Tamil film titled Lingaa starring the superstar Rajinikanth, Anushka Shetty, and Sonakshi Sinha. The film, which creates much hype before its release fell short of the critics and audience expectation but it turned out to be an above-averaged earner at the box office.
The actor had a terrific start to the year 2016 as he starred alongside Jr. NTR, Rakul Preet Singh, and Srinivas Avasarala in the Telugu action-drama film Nannaku Prematho. The film directed by Sukumar got positive reviews and grossed more than 68 crore INR within first nine days of its release. His other films of the year include Attack, Oxygen, a Kannada film titled Jaguar and a Malayalam film titled Pulimurugan directed by Vysakh and starring the superstar of Malayalam film industry, Mohanlal, and Kamilini Mukherjee.