Hailed as the `Indian Michael Jackson` for his unparalleled dancing genius, Prabhu Deva is a multi-faceted artist who has enthralled the audience as an actor, filmmaker and choreographer for over two decades now. Since his debut in the mid-1990s, Deva has constantly kept redefining himself: first, as a romantic hero with incredible comic timing; then as a National Award-winning choreographer and finally, as a director and producer who has made some of the biggest blockbusters across various film industries in the country. Along the way, his pan-Indian appeal has made him one of the few actors to have appeared in lead roles in Tamil, Hindi, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam cinema.
Born in Mysore, Karnataka, Prabhu Deva is the son well-known choreographer in the South Indian film industry, Mugur Sundar aka Sundaram Master and Mahadevamma Sundar. Prabhu Deva grew up in a typical South Indian family along with his two brothers, Raju Sundar and Nagendra Prasad. The actor has been very vocal about how he was influenced by the works of his father and it inspired him to learn different dance forms including Bharatnatyam as well as western styles.
Prabhu Deva married Ramlath in 1995 and the couple had three children, but his eldest son died due to cancer in 2008. After living together for 15 years, the couple parted ways in 2010.
As an Actor
Prabhu Deva made his acting in 1994 with Indhu, a Tamil language film directed by Pavithran. The film co-starring Roja, R. Sarathkumar and Kushboo emerged to be a huge commercial hit. In the same year, the actor appeared in his first action-romance film, Kadhalan (1994), opposite Nagma. The film won wide critical appreciation as well as won several recognitions including Four National Film Awards. The music composed by maestro A.R. Rahman was immensely popular and the song Mukkabala became a national sensation. Owing to the popularity of the movie, it was later dubbed in Hindi as Humse Hai Muqabala and in Telugu as Premikudu.
Prabhu Deva got his next major breakthrough in 1997 when he starred in Minsara Kanavu, a romantic drama co-starring Arvind Swamy and Kajol. The film won rave critical reviews and garnered several accolades including National Film Awards, three Tamil Nadu State Film Awards and one Filmfare Award. In 1998, he starred alongside Kamal Haasan, Soundarya and Rambha in the comedy film Kaathala Kaathala, directed by Singeetham Srinivasa Rao. The film opened to positive reviews and emerged to be a hit at the box office.
By the advent of the new millennium, Prabhu Deva had already established himself as one of the most sought-after actors in the Tamil film industry. He kicked off the new millennium on a high as his first release in the year, Vaanathaippola (2000), went on to win the National Film Award for Best Popular Film Providing Wholesome Entertainment. The actor had four other releases in the same year: Ezhaiyin Sirippil, James Pandu, Pennin Manathai Thottu and Doubles but only Pennin Manathai Thottu fared well at the box office while others were either average earners or flops.
The year 2002 was the year of `firsts` for Prabhu Deva as he made his debut in Kannada, Telugu and Hindi film industries with H2O, Santosham, and Agni Varsha. While his Kannada and Telugu films received highly positive reviews and were a box office hit, his Hindi film co-starring Amitabh Bachchan, Jackie Shroff, Nagarjuna and Raveena Tandon failed at the box office.
While 2003 was a forgettable year for Prabhu Deva with all three of his releases failing to do well, the actor had a good run in 2004 as both his Telugu films - Tapana directed by Tejas Dhanraj and Intlo Srimathi Veedhilo Kumari directed by K.Vasu - performed well at the box office. His only Tamil film of the year Engal Anna co-starring Vijayakanth and Pandiarajan, was declared a box office hit. With no releases to his name in 2005, the actor started 2006 on a successful note with a Telugu film titled Style directed by Raghava Lawrence. The film was later released in Tamil as Lakshyam.
Post-2006, Deva did not have any significant release until 2011, when he made his debut in Malayalam cinema with the historical drama Urumi, co-starring Prithviraj Sukumaran. After the huge success of his Malayalam debut, the actor appeared in the Hindi film ABCD - Any Body Can Dance, which released in February 2013. ABCD opened to mostly positive critical reviews and emerged as a box office hit. His next film was ABCD 2 (2015), which was directed by Remo D`Souza and also featured Varun Dhawan and Shraddha Kapoor in central roles. The movie was a box office success.
In 2016, Deva appeared in the hit trilingual film Devi, which he also produced. The actor`s sole release in 2017 was the romantic drama Kalavaadiya Pozhuthugal co-starring Bhumika Chawla and Prakash Raj, which received mixed to positive reviews upon its release. In 2018, Deva starred in the Tamil gangster comedy Gulaebaghavali, the experimental horror thriller Mercury and the musical dance drama Lakshmi. While the critical reception for Gulaebaghavali was mixed, the latter two films received generally positive reviews; and all the three films were moderate box office successes. Among the actor`s other notable projects in recent times are the comedy Charlie Chaplin 2 (2019), the action movie Pon Manickavel (2019), the horror comedy Devi 2 (2019) and Khamoshi (2019).
As a Director
The stalwart actor made his debut as a director in 2004 with a Telugu movie Nuvvostanante Nenoddantana. The film, which starred Siddharth Narayan and Trisha Krishnan in the lead roles, was a blockbuster. Following its huge success, the film was later remade in Tamil as Something Something...Unakkum Enakkum (2006) and in Hindi as Ramaiya Vastavaiya (2013). Following the success of directorial debut venture, Prabhu Deva next directed Pournami, which starred Prabhas and Trisha Krishnan. Despite the huge hype around the film, it did not perform well at the box office.
In 2007, Prabhu Deva got his major break as a director with the blockbuster Tamil film Pokkiri, which featured Vijay, Asin Thottumkal and Prakash Raj in central roles. Following the huge success of the film, he later remade it in Hindi as Wanted (2009) with Salman Khan and Ayesha Takia in the lead roles. Just like the Tamil film, the Hindi version too received highly positive reviews as well as emerged to be a massive commercial hit. In 2011, Prabhu Deva had two directorial ventures - the romantic drama Engeyum Kaadhal and the action thriller Vedi. However, both the films failed to impress.
In 2012, Prabhu Deva enjoyed further success as a director as he made Rowdy Rathore, a Bollywood action drama starring Akshay Kumar and Sonakshi Sinha. Although the film got mixed critical reviews, it was declared a blockbuster. Next up was the action-masala film R...Rajkumar (2013), starring Shahid Kapoor. The movie received mixed critics reviews and had a decent opening at the box office.
In 2014, Prabhu Deva directed the Ajay Devgn starrer Action Jackson. Although the movie had created a lot of hype before its release, it got terrible reviews from the critic and failed at the box office. However, Deva made a strong comeback with Singh is Bling, a Bollywood action comedy film that released in October 2015. His other releases as a director include Dabangg 3
(2019), Pon Manickavel
(2020) and Radhe: Your Most Wanted Bhai
As a Producer
The actor-turned-director also turned producer in 2016; his production ventures in the year included Sila Samayangalil, Vinodhan, Bogan, and Devi, while the first three movies were Tamil films, the latter was a Trilingual film which released in Telugu and Hindi besides Tamil. His 2020 release includes Street Dancer 3
, directed by Remo D`Souza