Jai Lava Kusa (JLK), the latest NTR Jr. (Tarak) starrer, is set to flood theatres on September 21. Over a 21-year career, the star has had a lot of legacy to live up to – his actor-politician grandfather’s, as well as his own. Despite a few inevitable duds, he has managed to carve out and polish an identity for himself.

Before you rush off to see NTR Jr. in triplicate in JLK, here’s a look at some of the scenes and songs that made him what he is – an indefatigable, original, performer.

1. Having a bad year? Dance it off.

There was a time when NTR Jr. went from dud to dud. To dud. The slump began with a big-budget Andhrawala, said to have been written for Chiranjeevi. The director was Puri Jagannadh, whose career includes such hall-of-famers like Pokiri and indefensible flops like, you guessed it, Andhrawala. Through a string of caste-based movies, political campaigning, and a near-fatal accident, NTR Jr. lost his mojo for a while, but never his moves. This clip, from a recent blockbuster, Janatha Garage, is an effective calling card.

2. S.S. Rajamouli’s debut

At 17 years old, NTR Jr. was ready for a star vehicle of his own. All of two films old, he was practically a film veteran when compared with the man chosen to direct the movie – a debutante called S.S. Rajamouli, whose only claim to fame was making soap operas for E-TV. Named Student No. 1, the movie got geography of Visakhapatnam wrong, but many other things right. It was one of the biggest blockbusters of the year and cemented NTR Jr.’s reputation as a talent to reckon with, and Rajamouli’s as a riveting storyteller. Early on in the movie, NTR, a trained Kuchipudi dancer, busts some moves in the college canteen. Watch from 18:25. Raw, and rather impressive.


3. He wields a battle axe!

After Student No. 1, NTR picked up serious action chops with Aadi, directed by V.V. Vinayak. It made him a star. Then S.S. Rajamouli hit him up for his second movie Simhadri, a wholly unoriginal story of a mild mannered hero with a violent, terrible past which comes back to haunt him pre-interval and which he embraces (along with a second heroine), post interval. Simhadri was a monster hit even before it hit theatres. Fans gushed about it being the first film to be screened in 500 theatres. Apart from launching NTR Jr. into orbit, it set a template for S.S. Rajamouli; one of blood-soaked, high octane entertainment.

4. Talking the walk

NTR Jr. represents one of the best things about Telugu cinema – a love for the language. Much of comedy in Telugu film is based on motormouth dialogue delivery. NTR Jr. excelled at this, and sometimes, took it to the next level. With Yamadonga, he made mythological dialogue cool again. In his generation of film, only comedians and villains spoke in archaic Telugu. One might argue that he blazed a trail that other stars followed – including Rana Daggubati and Prabhas. In this clip, he rips into some chaste Telugu lines to chastise the god of death. Trivia: Daler Mehndi made his Telugu debut in this movie with the catchy and surprisingly accent-accurate Rubber Gajulu.


5. X-pectation factor

In Bollywood, there’s a healthy conversation around nepotism in the industry, and the threshold of patience among producers before a star started to shine again. NTR Jr. would make that conversation complicated, not just because of the see-saw of hits and misses he’s delivered, but because he brings an undeniable star power to the screen. He continues to evoke an expectation of something spectacular, a showcase of competence and effort, and also of some x-factor that’s inherent and…inherited. Here’s a trailer for Jai Lava Kusa.

What do you think we missed? Tell us in the comments section!

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