ACCLAIMED actor Jr NTR is one of the most popular stars in Telugu cinema.
He recently came to wider global attention with a stunning lead role in record-breaking Indian blockbuster RRR, which was released in multiple languages and has become one of the highest-grossing films in Indian film history, including the Hindi dubbed version outperforming all recent commercial Bollywood films.
This week the seriously talented superstar, born on May 20, 1983, turns a year older and celebrates his 39th birthday. To mark the occasion, Eastern Eye decided to present an all you need to know A to Z about one of cinema’s biggest names.
A is for Aadi: Although 2001 film Student No. 1 did well, the actor’s first big success as a leading man was 2002 action drama Aadi, which would earn him his first major acting honours. The award-winning film would later be remade in multiple languages.
B is for Beginning: The actor was born Nandamuri Taraka Rama Rao Jr into a very distinguished family (see F) in Hyderabad. He was renamed as NT Rama Rao on the suggestion of his grandfather (G), who had the same name. He was a dedicated student, despite getting multiple acting opportunities as a youngster (see C).
C is for Child star: He made his debut as a child star in Brahmarshi Vishwamitra (1991), which was written, produced, directed, and headlined by his famous grandfather NT Rama Rao. The youngster followed that up with a lead role in mythological Ramayanam (1996), which would win a National Award for Best Children’s film, along with a host of other honours.
D is for Debut: Jr NTR played his first adult lead role in Ninnu Choodalani (2001), when still a teenager, opposite fellow debutante Raveena Rajput and gave that first money he received to his mother. Although the film didn’t do well, the young actor was noticed and signed multiple other films, which kick-started what would become a very distinguished career.
E is for Evaru Meelo Koteeswarulu: The actor took over as the host of popular TV show Evaru Meelo Koteeswarulu, which is the Telugu version of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, in 2021. He followed on from legendary actors Nagarjuna, who hosted the first three seasons and Chiranjeevi, who helmed the fourth series. His other TV successes have included hosting Bigg Boss Telugu season one and appearing as a guest on multiple high-profile shows.
F is for Family: The Telugu superstar’s very distinguished family members include his late father Nandamuri Harikrishna, who was an actor, producer and politician, actor half-brother Nandamuri Kalyan Ram and, of course, grandfather NT Rama Rao. There are many other members of the family across three generations, connected to theatre, cinema, and politics.
G is for Grandfather: He is named after his grandfather NT Rama Rao, who founded the dynasty and is the most distinguished family member. Popularly known as NTR, his grandfather was a leading actor, filmmaker, and politician, who starred in more than 300 films and laid the foundation for Telugu cinema with an incredible number of landmark achievements. He inspired multiple generations with his incredible body of work and impressive acting ability. Jr NTR once said: “I love being called NTR’s grandson. I never moved away from his shadow, maybe because I didn’t try enough or maybe because I like it this way.”
H is for Hyderabad: The actor has been born and brought up in Hyderabad. He has remained connected to the city and lives in a super expensive palatial property in the Jubilee Hills area, where many other Telugu movie stars reside. He once said, “I am a typical Telugu boy dominated by all the qualities of a Hyderabadi because I was born and brought up here.”
I is for Inspired: A number of the actor’s Telugu films have been remade in other languages. One of the most notable is his blockbuster hit Temper (2015), which was successfully remade in Bollywood as Simmba (2018) and in Tamil as Ayogya (2019).
J is for Japan: It isn’t just Indians who love Jr NTR because he also has a big fan base in Japan. He became massively popular in the country after his film Baadshah (2013) premiered at the Osaka Asian Film Festival and turned into a runaway success in the country.
K is for Kuchipudi: The actor is trained in the classical Indian dance form of Kuchipudi. This has enabled him to deliver dynamite dance moves on-screen with effortless ease. The multi-talented star has also performed live shows in the dance form.
L is for Lucky number: There are four nines in his Twitter ID (@Tarak9999) because that is his lucky number. He also reportedly has a luxury car with four nines in the number plate.
M is for Mohanlal: The actor has never shied away from working with big names and starred alongside Malayalam movie legend Mohanlal in smash hit movie Janatha Garage (2016). The highest-grossing Telugu film of that year won multiple honours, which included seven prestigious Nandi Awards.
N is for Nannaku Prematho: The Jr NTR film that has the closest British connection is 2016 action thriller Nannaku Prematho, which was extensively shot in the UK. He won multiple Best Actor honours for the acclaimed hit film, which included winning at the Filmfare Awards (Telugu) and Nandi Awards.
O is for Orphan: Interestingly, the actor has played an orphan who is thrown into an unexpected situation in a number of films, including Simhadri (2003), Narasimhudu (2005), Yamadonga (2007), Dammu (2012) and Temper (2015).
P is for Philanthropy: The big-hearted star has done a lot of work for charity across the years, including donating huge amounts of money to good causes and for relief work.
Q is for Quality: The selective star has always concentrated on quality over quantity and doesn’t let himself get distracted by meaningless things. He once said: “I believe in doing what I am best at. I don’t want to waste my energy in other things; instead, I would put all that in reaching the next level in a craft that I love the most.”
R is for RRR: His big budget entertainer RRR has become one of the highest-grossing Indian films in history. He delivered a stand-out performance in the period action drama, which was released in multiple languages and has become his biggest ever cinematic success.
S is for SS Rajamouli: The actor has formed somewhat of a dream team with ace filmmaker SS Rajamouli, who made his directorial debut with Jr NTR starrer Student No 1. They also worked together on hit films Simhadri (2003), Yamadonga (2007) and, of course, RRR (2022). Jr NTR described him as a tough taskmaster and gave him the nickname Jakkana, after a famous sculptor known for his immaculate masterpieces.
T is for Triple: Jr NTR has never been afraid to experiment throughout his career and in 2017 he did that with a triple role in action film Jai Lava Kusa. The film following identical triplets who get separated at a young age and follow different paths in life was a resounding success despite getting mixed reviews.
U is for Upcoming film: The actor is teaming up with Janatha Garage (2016) director Koratala Siva for another project. He will also be starring in a film helmed by KGF: Chapter 1 and 2 director Prashanth Neel. He is open to acting in Hollywood movies in the future.
V is for Voice: Another talent that sets him apart from other stars is his superb singing ability. He has sung a number of film songs himself and even got a Filmfare Award (Telugu) Best Male Playback Singer nomination for the Nannaku Prematho (2016) song Follow Follow.
W is for Wedding: The actor married Lakshmi Pranathi on May 5, 2011, in Hyderabad. The couple have two sons.
X is for X Factor: Apart from being relatable, what has elevated the actor to great heights is his all-round ability. This has included singing, dancing, acting and being able to transform his physical appearance.
Y is for Yamadonga: One of the most unique films of his career is 2007 Telugu fantasy action comedy Yamadonga, which revolves around a thief who dies and must face a trial of fire in hell for his sins in the other world. He went on to win a Filmfare Award for Best Actor (Telugu) for his multi-layered performance in the film.
Z is for Zen: The actor enjoys yoga and meditating. Perhaps, the form of relaxation he likes most is cooking and once described that as the best meditation of all. He said: “Whenever I am stressed, I cook a good meal for my wife. Many people don’t know this, but I’m actually a great cook.”