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26 March 1965
Bengaluru, Karnataka, India
|Residence||Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India|
|Other names||Prakash Raj|
|Occupation||Film actor, producer, Film director, Television presenter|
|Height||5 ft 8 in|
Sidhu (1999 – 20 March 2004)
|This article is part of a series on
Prakash Raj, born as Prakash Rai (ಪ್ರಕಾಶ್ ರೈ / ಪ್ರಕಾಶ್ ರಾಜ್ ) on 26 March 1965 in Bengaluru, Karnataka is an Indian film actor, director, producer and television presenter, who mainly works in the South Indian film industry. He used to act in back-to-back stage shows for Rs. 300 a month in the initial stages of his career when he joined Kalakshetra, Bengaluru and he has 2,000 street theater performances to his credit.
After working in the Kannada television industry and the Kannada Film Industry for a few years, he entered Tamil and Telugu film industries, through the movies Duet (1994) of K.Balachander in Tamil and Subha Lagnam (1994) in Telugu. In remembrance, he named his production company Duet Movies. Prakash is also doing many Hindi films in Bollywood.
Prakash, besides Kannada his mother tongue, can also speak Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam, Hindi and English with ease like a native in all these languages and that is what makes him the most sought after actor. He has played a variety of roles, most notably as the antagonist and of late, as a character actor. Prakash, as an actor has won a National Film Award for Best Supporting Actor in 1998 for Mani Ratnam's Iruvar and a National Film Award for Best Actor in 2009 for his role in Kanchivaram, a Tamil film directed by Priyadarshan and as a producer has won a National Film Award for Best Feature Film of the year for the Kannada film Puttakkana Highway directed by his long time theater friend B.Suresh in 2011. Prakash was also the host of Neengalum Vellalam Oru Kodi , the Tamil game show.
In the interview, Prakash, confirms that he was born in Bangalore, Karnataka  on 26 March 1965 in a lower middle class family to a Kannadiga mother and a Tulu speaking father and in the same interview he ridicules speculations about his mother tongue being Tulu and confirms that his mother tongue is Kannada. He completed schooling at St. Joseph's Boys' High School, Bangalore and later joined St. Joseph's College of Commerce, Bangalore. Prakash Rai changed his name to Prakash Raj based on prominent Tamil film director K. Balachander's advice, however he is still called Prakash Rai in his home town Karnataka. Prakash married actress Lalitha Kumari in 1994. They have two daughters—Meghana and Pooja. They also had a son named Sidhu, who died from a fall from the building while flying the kite on March 20, 2004. The couple divorced in 2009. He married choreographer Pony Verma on August 24, 2010.
Prakash began his acting career with [Doordarshan] serials like Bisilu Kudure (Kannada) and Guddada Bhootha (Tulu and Kannada). He later took up supporting roles in Kannada films like Raamachari, Ranadheera, Nishkarsha and Lockup Death. He was noticed for his dialogue delivery and histrionics. His break through role came in form of Harakeya Kuri directed by K. S. L. Swamy starring Vishnuvardhan with whom he had acted in various other films like Mithileya Seetheyaru, Muthina Haara and Nishkarsha. His performance in the movie was noticed by Geetha, the lead heroine of the film who introduced Prakash to her mentor K. Balachander, a Tamil film director. He acted under the screen name "Prakash Rai" in Kannada films and was rechristened "Prakash Raj" by K. Balachander for his debut Tamil film Duet, which saw him playing his first major role.
Prakash re-entered Kannada films through Nagamandala in 1997, directed by T.S. Nagabharana which was selected for Indian Panorama in the International Film Festival in 1997. He was also a part of Mani Ratnam's stage show, Netru, Indru, Naalai. In 1997, he acted in Mani Ratnam's biopic film Iruvar. The movie dealt with the relationship between politicians M. G. Ramachandran and M. Karunanidhi, for which he won the National Film Award for Best Supporting Actor. The film was remade in Tamil as Ghilli and in Kannada as Ajay starring Puneet Rajkumar. He starred in a malayalam film, Pandippada,with Dilip.
He acted in Anththapuram(Telugu film) which earned him National Film Award for Best Actor (Special Jury). He acted in many number of Telugu films.
Post Wanted (2009), Prakash Raj has been an regular villain in Hindi language Bollywood movies, including Singham (2011) as Jaikant Shikre, Dabangg 2 as Bachcha Singh, Mumbai Mirror (2013) as Shetty, and the movie Policegiri opposite Sanjay Dutt and Prachi Desai, as Nagori.next is jilla.
As a director
He took on the mantle of director, directing Naanu Nanna Kanasu, his directorial debut ever in Kannada in 2010 for which he was the joint producer and the film completed 125 days successfully in the theaters across Karnataka becoming the biggest hit of the year. He was also nominated for the Film fare South 'The Best Director' category for his very first film. He then directed the Telugu and Tamil bilingual film Dhoni. He is directing a multilingual film Oggarane, Ulavacharu Biryani and Un Samayal Arayil in Kannada, Telugu and Tamil respectively. It is supposed to be the remake of the Malayalam super hit romantic comedy film Salt N' Pepper.
As a producer
Prakash Rai became a producer from the Tamil film Dhaya that released in 2002 in which he was seen in the lead role with actress Meena and the film also earned him a special jury National Award for his performance. And then he produced various films in Tamil like Naam in 2003, Azhagiya Theeye in 2004, Kanda Naal Mudhal in 2005, Poi in 2006 starring Uday Kiran, his mentor K. Balachander and himself, Mozhi in 2007, Velli Thirai and Abhiyum Naanum that won many Tamil Nadu State Awards in 2008 and Inidhu Inidhu in 2010. The first non tamil film that he produced was his directorial debut in Kannada Naanu Nanna Kanasu in 2010, a remake of his own Tamil production Abhiyum Naanum for which he was the joint producer with his long time Bengaluru theater friend, Kannada director-producer B.Suresh. In 2011, he acted and jointly produced a Kannada film Puttakkana Highway again with his theater friend, B.Suresh who also directed the film and this film was a milestone in Prakash's production career since the film won him the National Award for Best Regional Film for the year 2010-2011 and the film also won an award in 4th Bengaluru International Film Festival 2011. His first Telugu production was a Tamil-Telugu Bilingual film Payanam and Gaganam in 2011 starring Super Star Nagarjuna Akkineni and himself in the lead role. In 2012, he produced two tamil films Mayilu and Dhoni. In 2013 he produced a Telugu-Tamil bilingual Gouravam. He is producing a multilingual film Oggarane, Ulavacharu Biryani and Un Samayal Arayil in Kannada, Telugu and Tamil respectively. It is supposed to be the remake of the Malayalam super hit romantic comedy film Salt N' Pepper and Prakash himself will be directing the film.
Prakash has been involved in several controversies.
He has been banned by the Telugu Film Industry six times. Prakash reacts to it by saying, "If people who work with me say that I play hide and seek why do they repeat me? Why am I in Mahesh’s nine films out of his ten. Why don’t you judge me with my work? How I go about it is not important. I don’t go by the rules. I put my foot down, I don’t take mediocrity. There are certain locations where I can come only at 12 in the morning. I don’t go by the rules". It was the first time ever that an actor was banned by the Telugu Industry Telugu film industry insiders interpret the ban as a conspiracy by several big heroes and producers. Problems started during the shoot of films like Pavan Kalyan's 'Jalsa', NTR Jr's 'Kantri', and 'Parugu' starring Allu Arjun.
On a Telugu show 'Jayapradam' with actress Jayaprada, he said that Pawan Kalyan was the most arrogant actor that irked Pawan Kalyan's fans. Prakash was also targeted by the social networking sites for his statements.
There was controversy for his naked appearance for a sequence in his latest Telugu film titled Ongole Githa. The film got an 'A Certificate' from the Censor Board. Prakash reacted by saying, “I did not shed my clothes for creating sensation, I had no plans to star in that sequence. The script demanded and it; as an actor, I have to abide by the script. Director Bhaskar told me that it would be an ‘important’ sequence in the context of the film and I just carried out his instructions".
Several Kannada organisations staged protests in front of theaters since they felt that some dialogues in a scene from the Hindi film Singham starring Ajay Devgan and Prakash were derogatory statements against the Kannadigas. The Karnataka Film Chamber of Commerce (KFCC) had also demanded the deletion of all “objectionable” dialogues from the movie. The screening of the movie was stopped in major centers of Karnataka. The controversial scene starts off with Prakash threatening Ajay that he would bring 1,000 people from Karnataka border to thrash him. Ajay (who plays Bhajirao Singham, a Maratha) retorts that one lion would suffice to shoo away a thousand dogs. The controversy assumes significance in the backdrop of the decades-old border dispute between Karnataka and Maharashtra. Kannada protesters also felt that Prakash, being a Kannadiga should have told the team that it is not right. Prakash reacted to it to the Kannada and the Telugu media by saying, "I am a Kannadiga myself and I love my mother tongue Kannada. I'm very proud of my community and would never deliberately do anything to hurt my people How would I allow conversations that provide pain to people of Karnataka in any movie in which I am cast? There is nothing controversial about the dialogue. I am a Maratha in the movie, the controversy has started just because I am a Kannadiga and I used the word 'Karnataka border' in the film because the villain in the film stays in Goa, the Karnataka border.". Finally the dialogue was removed from the film and the whole team of 'Singham' including the Director, Rohit Shetty, Production house 'Reliance Big Entertainment' and Prakash apologised to all the Kannadiga's and finally the issue was resolved.
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