Upendra in 1996
Udupi, Mysore State, India
|Occupation||Actor, film director, film producer, screenwriter, lyricist, playback singer|
Upendra (popularly also called Uppi) is an Indian actor, director, producer, screenwriter, lyricist and singer. He stars primarily in Kannada films and is well known in Sandalwood and Tollywood. He started his career under the director Kashinath as a writer and an assistant director. His first directorial venture was Tharle Nan Maga.
In the late 1990s he directed Om, which portrayed actual Bangalore gangsters, followed by A, which was his debut film as an actor. Upendra, his next film, starred Raveena Tandon, a Bollywood actress. After a decade of acting in Kannada, Telugu and Tamil films, he returned to the role of director with the multilingual movie Super, which was well-received critically and commercially.
Upendra is known for his work in films like A (1998), Upendra (1999), Preethse (2000), Raa (2001), Kutumba (2003), Raktha Kanneeru (2003), Gokarna (2003), Gowramma (2005), Auto Shankar (2005), Aishwarya (2006), Anatharu (2007), Budhivanta (2008), Super (2010), Katari Veera Surasundarangi (2012), Godfather (2012) and Kalpana (2012). Upendra has thus established himself as one of the most successful actors and directors of Kannada cinema. He is currently one of the highest paid directors and actors in the Kannada Film Industry.
Upendra Rao was born at Kundapura in Udupi district, to Manjunatha Rao and Anusuya. He was the second son to his parents, his older brother being Sudheendra Rao. Rao was born to a poor family whose father struggled to make ends meet for his family. As a baby, he suffered from an eye problem, the result of which could be seen in his ability of rolling his eyeballs, which were seen in sequences of many of his films. He obtained his Bachelor of Commerce degree from APS College of Commerce, Bangalore. During his time at the college, he participated in plays often forming troupes with his friends. His association with Kashinath, who happened to be a distant relative of his, began during his final year in college., which took an important role in his film career.
Career as a director
It was Upendra's ambition to become a director, for which he first sought to assist director Kashinath. He started off as a director with a typical Kashinath style comedy called Tharle Nan Maga in 1992. The film introduced a famous comedian called Jaggesh. The movie went on to be a runaway hit and has since achieved a cult following.
Upendra directed a horror suspense thriller next called Shhh! in 1993. The film featured his mentor Kashinath and a young producer and actor named Kumar Govind. The film was a major box office success and Upendra came out as an independent director. Shhh! is considered as one of the best horror / thriller movies in Kannada Cinema.
His next film was a gangster film called Om which was released in 1995. The film starred Shivrajkumar and also had real gangsters in its cast, and had a message of peace. Om became a blockbuster, and went on to be one of the highest grossing Kannada films of its time and made news at National Level. Upendra became an overnight star director. With Om, Upendra also introduced an actress from Coorg, Prema. Om was also remade into several languages – the Hindi version was called Arjun Pandit and had Sunny Deol playing Shivrajkumar's role.
Upendra then turned towards a project of directing an extended version of the 1981 film Antha and he called it Operation Antha. The film had Ambareesh reprising his role from the earlier 1981 version Antha, as Kanwar Lal. The film contained revolutionary ideology and a strong feeling against corruption, where the protagonist is obsessed by the corrupt world and finds a way to change the system through extremist way. The film was much ahead of its time and hence was not very successful. However, it was controversial for its taunts on some real life political figures.
In 1998 Upendra directed A, through which he made a successful transition to acting. A was again a revolutionary film about exploring deeper meanings of love. The film had outrageous posters, even more outrageous dialogues, and a controversial storyline. The plot was of a director falling in love with his lead actress while filming, and then becoming dejected as she leaves him when she becomes successful. The film also dealt with dark truths of the film world, like the casting couch. Rumors were thick that it was Upendra's own story, and the actress in the film portrayed his protege Prema. This only added to the popularity of the film and it broke many box office records upon release and went on to become one of the highest grossing Kannada films of its time. The film had a 175 days run in Karnataka was also dubbed to Telugu, and repeated its success in Andhra Pradesh too, where it had a 100 days run. The film won accolades from Bollywood personalities like Amitabh Bachchan and Anil Kapoor. Upendra was now a big name in Kannada cinema and was also popular in Andhra Pradesh.
Upendra's next movie was Swasthik with lead Raghavendra Rajkumar which was released in 1998. The film was average at the box office, but was still a hit with the critics. However, it is still remembered for its smart narration and innovative screenplay and is considered to be one of the best works of Upendra with respect to screenplay.
In 1999, Upendra made a self-titled film, Upendra, a psychological thriller that explored the nuances of ego. Upendra acted in this film as the unnamed protagonist (or antagonist) Naanu (I or Myself). The film starred three heroines, Damini, Prema, and Bollywood actress Raveena Tandon. Naanu was an arrogant character, bordered on misogyny, and was very insulting to women, which led to a lot of criticism on the film. However, the film broke many box office records and went on to be a much bigger hit than A, both in Karnataka as well as in Andhra Pradesh. The film had a 200 days run in Karnataka and its Telugu version had a 100 days run in Andhra Pradesh. Upendra was now not only a remarkably successful director, but also a big star with a large fan base in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. Since then, Upendra gave up direction and concentrated more on his acting career.
Upendra came back as a director after a hiatus of 10 years in 2010 with the movie Super. The movie was released in a record number of theatres all over Karnataka and was also dubbed into Telugu and released in Andhra Pradesh. The Utopian film, set in a futuristic India, tells the story of a NRI who, through political manipulations, helps India become a superpower in 2030. Super was a blockbuster, breaking many box office records upon release and completing 175 days of run, becoming one of the highest grossing Kannada films of 2010 and was also critically acclaimed.
In 2011, Tamil actor Rajinikanth attended a private screening of Super in Bangalore. Rajinikanth watched the film along with Upendra and a couple of friends. "Upendra is a great actor and director. There is hardly anyone in Indian Cinema, who would think like him. Only he can think like that. I like watching Upendra's films and this was no exception. If I get an opportunity and an impressive script, I'd like to act in an Upendra film in the future," said Rajini.
In January 2012, Upendra announced that he is working on the script for his next directorial titled Upendra 2 (stylized as Uppi2), a sequel to his 1999 film Upendra. Upendra 2 will be directed and produced by Upendra under his home banner, Upendra Productions. The first posters of Upendra 2 were released on the Internet on 16 September 2012. The posters featured a huge rectangle, with no clear name inside it, but with a heap of mathematical formulae – be it arithmetic, algebra, geometry, analytical geometry, calculus and so on – and had a byline – "directed by Upendra". Uppi2 was launched by Upendra on 18'th September 2013 at Kanteerava Studios in Bangalore, amongst thousands of fans gathered to witness the launch. Lathi Charge from the police to control the crowd of fans gathered at the venue was reported. The Songs Recording for Uppi2 started on 30'th March 2014 at Gurukiran Studio in Bangalore. Upendra is rumored to have approached bollywood actress Vidya Balan to play the female lead in Uppi2. However, Upendra is yet to officially announce the star cast of the film and will start shooting by May 2014.
Career as an actor
After acting in small roles in his mentor Kashinath's films such as Anathana Avanthara and Ajagajanthara, Upendra started his acting career with a bunch of walk on roles notably in his directorial films such as Tharle Nan Maga, Shhh! and Operation Antha.
In 1998 Upendra directed and starred in A, which was his fifth film as a director but his first as an actor. Upon release, the film had a 175 days run and became a trend setting blockbuster in Karnataka, with its Telugu dubbed version also becoming a Super Hit by running for 100 days in Andhra Pradesh. Due to Upendra's newly found popularity in Telugu, ace Telugu director E. V. V. Satyanarayana cast him in the 1998 Telugu film Kanyadanam alongside Srikanth and Rachana, which also became a commercial success. In 1999 Upendra again directed and starred in his self-titled film Upendra which starred bollywood actress Raveena Tandon. The film went on to become a bigger hit than A, both in Karnataka as well as in Andhra Pradesh. The film had a 200 days run in Karnataka and 100 days run in Andhra Pradesh. In 2000, Upendra starred opposite Bollywood actress Sonali Bendre in the psychological thriller Preethse which was a remake of bollywood film Darr. Preethse became Upendra's third consecutive blockbuster by completing 175 days of run. With three back to back silver jubilee hits, Upendra had attained Super Star status in the Kannada Film Industry with popularity in Telugu as well. In 2001 Upendra wrote and starred in a Telugu film titled Raa which became a box office hit in Andhra Pradesh. Raa was a typical Upendra style film in which he plays a womanising playboy. Upendra starred opposite his future wife Priyanka Trivedi for the first time in this film.
In 2002, Upendra hit a rough patch, with his most expected films such as H2O, Super Star and Hollywood not meeting expectations and having average run at the box office and films like Nagarahavu and Naanu Naane flopping at the box office.
However, Upendra made a strong comeback in the next three years, i.e. from 2003 to 2005 which is considered his most successful period. During these three years, he starred in 5 back to back 100 days films, such as Kutumba, Raktha Kanneeru, Gokarna, Gowramma and Auto Shankar, all of which were Super hits at the box office. The only films of Upendra which didn't do well during this period were Omkara (which had a 50 days run with huge opening) and News.
During the span of 1998 to 2005, Upendra was considered as the most successful actor, much ahead of his contemporaries like Puneeth Rajkumar, Darshan, Sudeep and Shivrajkumar, having starred in eight 100 days hits in eight years, such as A, Upendra, Preethse, Kutumba, Raktha Kanneeru, Gokarna, Gowramma and Auto Shankar.
Upendra went through a bad phase during 2006 to 2009, with most of his films during this period going totally unnoticed at the box office such as Uppi Dada M.B.B.S., Tandege Takka Maga, Parodi, Masti, Toss (Telugu), Lava Kusha, Sathyam (Tamil), Dubai Babu and Rajini.
The only commercial hits he gave during this period were the candy floss romantic comedy Aishwarya, which ran for 75 days (which was also the debut film of bollywood actress Deepika Padukone), and the moderately successful Anatharu which ran for 70 days. Upendra also received praise and critical acclaim for his performance in Anatharu.
Budhivanta which was Upendra's only release in 2008, was considered as his big comeback through which he rose back to Super Stardom. The film was declared as a blockbuster and completed 100 days of run becoming the top box office grosser of the year. Budhivanta was a typical old school Uppi style film in which Uppi played a womanizing con-man, (somewhat similar to his 2001 Telugu hit Raa) and his seven get-ups in the film were highly appreciated as were his witty dialogues. Budhivanta 's Telugu dubbed version was also a hit, completing 50 days of run in Andhra Pradesh.
2010 marked Upendra's comeback to direction after 10 years. After several ups and downs in his acting career, Upendra finally came back as a director after 10 years in 2010 with the movie Super in which he starred opposite Tamil actress Nayantara and Tulip Joshi. The movie was released in a record number of theatres all over Karnataka and was also dubbed into Telugu and released in Andhra Pradesh. Super was a blockbuster, breaking many box office records upon release and completing 175 days of run, becoming one of the highest grossing Kannada films of 2010 and was also critically acclaimed.
Upendra then starred in several films like Shrimathi (2011) opposite his wife Priyanka Trivedi and bollywood actress Celina Jaitly, and Aarakshaka (2012). In 2012, Upendra starred in several commercially successful films like 3D fantasy film Katari Veera Surasundarangi which was declared a Super hit and became the second highest grossing film of the year, followed by Godfather which did above average business and the horror comedy film Kalpana which also did reasonably well at the box office.
Upendra is working with Dandupalya director Sreenivasa Raju in an action film titled Basavanna, which evoked controversies regarding its title and first look poster. After facing oppositions from religious communities, the makers of the film have reportedly decided to shoot the film without a title and the film is currently in post production. Upendra is also starring in the remake of Telugu film Kick, titled Supero Ranga, which stars actress Kriti Kharbanda opposite Upendra. After the completion of these films, Upendra will direct and star in his most ambitious project, Uppi2 which was launched on 18'th September 2013. The Songs Recording for Uppi2 started on 30'th March 2014 at Gurukiran Studio in Bangalore. Upendra is rumored to have approached bollywood actress Vidya Balan to play the female lead in Uppi2. However, Upendra is yet to officially announce the star cast of the film and will start shooting by May 2014.
Upendra has done the highest number of Brand Endorsements among Kannada Actors. Upendra has been the brand ambassador of United Breweries, Lunars Footwear, Emani Navaratna Brand, Karnataka Milk Federation (Nandini), Udayavani News Daily, Royal Challengers Bangalore (replaced by Puneeth Rajkumar in IPL 3), Mavalli Tiffin Room (MTR), Bangalore Electricity Supply Company. Upendra is also joining hands with Rajinikanth to endorse BBMP campaign.
Upendra has been the Brand Ambassador of United Breweries Group since 1999. His tag line Yella OK. Cool drink yaake? has long been part of the ad campaign. Commenting on his long standing association with the brand, Upendra added "UB Export was successful in bringing out the quirky side of me in one of my most popular punch lines ever, Yella ok. Cool drink Yaake? It's been almost 10 years since the ad broke out but the fad of Yaake? still seems to linger. Fans even now refer to it whenever I meet them on occasions."
Upendra was born in Koteshwara near Kundapura, Udupi district of Karnataka. On 14 December 2003, Uppi married former Miss Kolkata Priyanka Trivedi who met him first on the sets of the Telugu movie Raa and then on the sets of H2O. Upendra and his family reside in Banashankari III Stage in Bangalore.
|1992||Tharle Nan Maga||Jaggesh||Appears as narrator, writer, lyricist, Debut film as director|
|1993||Shhh!||Kumar Govind||Cameo appearance, writer, lyricist|
|1995||Om||Shivaraj Kumar||Filmfare Award for Best Director
Karnataka State Film Award for Best Director
|1995||Operation Antha||Ambareesh||Cameo appearance, writer, lyricist|
|1997||Omkaram||Dr. Rajasekhar||Telugu film; Remake of Om|
|1998||A||Himself||Udaya Film Award for Best Male Actor||Writer, lyricist|
|1999||Swasthik||Raghavendra Rajkumar||Writer, lyricist|
|1999||Upendra||Himself||Filmfare Award for Best Director – Kannada (1999)
Filmfare Award for Best Film (Kannada)
|2010||Super||Himself||Karnataka State Film Award for Best Film
Karnataka State Film Award for Best Director
Udaya Film Award for Best Screenplay
Suvarna Film Awards 2011 – Favorite Film Award
Suvarna Film Awards 2011 – Favorite Director Award.
|Denotes films that have not yet been released|
|1989||Anathana Avanthara||Kannada||Cameo appearance as Kamadeva in a song|
|1995||Operation Antha||Kannada||Cameo appearance|
|2002||Super Star||Pravee / Deependra||Kannada|
|2002||Hollywood||Upendra / Surendra / Robot US47||Kannada|
|2006||Uppi Dada M.B.B.S.||Rao Bahaddur Upendra||Kannada|
|2006||Thandege Thakka Maga||Sathya||Kannada|
|2008||Budhivanta||Joseph Fernandez / Panchamrutha / Zakir Hussain / Vijay Mittal / Samarasimha Reddy / Ranjaneesh Swamy / Shyam Prasad||Kannada|
|2008||Mast Maja Maadi||Himself||Kannada||Special appearance|
|2010||Super||Subhash Chandra Gandhi||Kannada|
|2012||Aarakshaka||Arun / Vishnu||Kannada|
|2012||Katari Veera Surasundarangi||Upendra / Mohan||Kannada||SIIMA Award for Best Actor (Critics)|
|2012||Godfather||Shiva / Ajay / Vijay||Kannada||Nominated—Bangalore Times Film Award for Best Actor in a Negative Role|
|2012||Kalpana||Raghava||Kannada||Udaya Award for Best Actor|
|2013||Topiwala||Basak||Kannada||Nominated—SIIMA Award for Best Actor|
|2015||Shivam||Basavanna / Alexander||Kannada|
|2002||H2O||Story, Screenplay, Dialogue, Lyrics|
|2002||Super Star||Story, Screenplay, Dialogue, Lyrics|
|2003||Rakta Kanneeru||Screenplay, Dialogue, Lyrics|
|2008||Budhivanta||Screenplay, Dialogue, Lyrics|
|2013||Topiwala||Story, Screenplay, Lyrics|
|2014||Uppi 2||Story, Screenplay, Lyrics, Dialogue|
|1999||Upendra||Uppiganta Ruchi Bere Illa|
|2000||shabdha||Hubballi hudgi neenu|
Dil Ilde Love
|2003||Rakta Kanneeru||Baa Baaro Rasika|
|2006||Uppi Dada M.B.B.S.||Makkar Maado Maliniye|
|2006||Aishwarya||Yella OK Madhuve Yaake|
|2011||Jarasandha||Pade Pade Phone-inalli|
|2012||Katari Veera Surasundarangi||Muthinantha Muthondhu|
|2014||Super Ranga||Ondsali Avala|
Awards and nominations
- "Ruppis Resort Official Page".
- Excited Upendra on Tamil Film 'Sathyam'. Indiaglitz.com (14 June 2008).
- Upendra Kannada Film Super Box Office Report, Collections. Cinemagupshup.com.
- "Speculation of Kannada top director Upendra about India in 2030. A scene from movie Super by Kannada's top director Upendra". chitthara.com.[dead link]
- "Interview with Kannada Cinema's Top Star – Upendra". cinegoer.com.
- "Upendra – The 'Super' man in your neighbourhood". The Hindu.
- "Top Director of Kannada Cinema Upendra wins State Award".
- "Highest Paid Actors of Kannada Film Industry".
- Rao, Upendra (20 September 2014). Weekend With Ramesh - Episode 15 - September 20, 2014. India: Zee Kannada.
- "Uppi ... RealStar from Tharle Nan Maga to Uppi2".
- "'A' film Producer Jagannath Departs".
- "Kannada stars in other languages – Gandhadagudi Forum".
- "Upendra ups and downs".
- "Vishwaroopam Similar To Upendra's Swasthik". Times of India.
- "Topiwala – Gandhadagudi Forum".
- "Upendra Super Telugu version".
- "Upendra on the success of Super".
- "Kannada films hits and misses of 2010".
- Madhu Daithota, TNN (30 January 2011). "I like watching Upendra's films: Rajinikanth". Times of India.
- Shekhar H Hooli (29 January 2011). "Rajinikanth describes Upendra's Super as different film". Oneindia Entertainment.
- Social Post (2012-09-17). "Upendra 2 poster hits internet | News – Oneindia Entertainment". Entertainment.oneindia.in. Retrieved 2012-11-21.
- "Upendra 2 Poster hits internet".
- "Commotion at the launch of Uppi2".
- "Uppi2 Songs Recording".
- "It's Vidya Balan For Upendra In Uppi 2!".
- "TC Star Interviews – Upendra".
- "Upendra – Gandhadagudi Forum".
- "Cycle Stand – Telugu Cinema Trade Story". Idlebrain.com. 2001-11-13. Retrieved 2012-07-21.
- "Nallamalupu Bujji interview – Telugu Cinema interview – Telugu film producer". Idlebrain.com. 2008-09-29. Retrieved 2012-07-21.
- "Kannada films 2002 – Round up".
- "Shankar Nag Discussion – Shivu Adda".
- "Kannada films 2009 – Hits and misses".
- "Kannada films 2009 – BO Report".
- "Upendra – Achievements & Accolades".
- "Kannada films 2008 Report".
- "Buddhivatha completes 100 days".
- "Upendra's 'Buddhivantha' – The Top Grosser of 2008".
- "Upendra's Super released in record number of theaters".
- "Best Kannada Actor of 2012".
- "Top 10 Grossers of 2012".
- "2013 Sandalwood Box Office Report".
- "Kannada Films Discussion".
- "Upendra's Basavanna first look creates controversy".
- "Basavanna to release without title".
- "Supero Ranga Launched".
- "Brand Ambassadors of Kannada Film Industry".
- "Upendra-Rajinikanth to join hands for BBMP campaign".
- "Upendra-UB Export celebrate a decade long association".
- "The 'Super' man in your neighborhood – Upendra". The Hindu.
- "Upendra & Priyanka – When two cultures merge". Deccan Herald.
- "Upendra's 'Super' tops State Awards". Deccan Herald.
- "Udaya film Awards won by Upendra".
- "Filmfare Awards 1999".
- "Filmfare Awards 2000".
- "Hello Gandhinagara Awards 2004".
- "51'st Filmfare Awards Nominations".
- "Gandhadagudi Forum – Upendra Suvarna Award for Anatharu".
- "55'th Filmfare Awards Nominations".
- "Udaya Film Awards".
- "56'th Filmfare Awards Nominations".
- "Suvarna Film Awards 2011".
- "58'th filmfare awards south nominees".
- "Karnataka State Film Awards 2012".
- "SIIMA Awards 2012 Results".
- "Udaya film Awards 2013 Results".
- "SIIMA Awards 2012".