Happy Birthday Prabhudeva!!!! 47 reasons I love you (mostly songs)

Hey, it’s Prabhudeva’s birthday! Now I really feel bad for not doing Street Dancer 3D for the movie today. Life is so COMPLICATED! I’ll give him this post instead.

1.1. I love you because you have a lifetime of training in dance, your father was a film choreographer and you spent your childhood learning Bharatnatyam, along with modern dance.

2. I love you because you made your first appearance on film in Mouna Ragam at age 13, meaning it let us see both the very earliest Man Ratnam style, and the very earliest Prabhudeva dancing, two geniuses in embryo together.

(He’s not the main dancer, he’s the little boy with the flute at 2:20.)

3. I love you because you made your big breakthrough at only 21 with not one, but two major all time classic hits in the same film.

4. And the other hit, the one that became your lifelong theme song and a youth anthem for generations to come.

5. I love you because that first breakthrough performance also started your collaboration with AR Rahman.  Both of you were classically trained in traditional Indian musical art, but interested in exploring how those traditional forms could interact with the new Western music.

6. I love you because you and Rahman managed to drag Indian song videos into the modern era, without giving up their traditional basis.  Look how this song mixes animation with old fashioned train station!

7. I love you because you showed off your classical training mixed with your pop music influenced dance in a super fun song with Shilpa Shetty of all people!

8. I love you because you reunited with Mani Ratnam 11 years after Mouna Ragam for Minsara Kanavu.  Featuring a truly spectacular dance number in which Ratnam’s camera, Rahman’s songs, and your dancing all came together.

9. That’s the more spectacular one, but for me I love this song more.  For one thing because it’s the first song that made me go “Hey!  He loves Gene Kelly as much as I do” because it is a clear homage to the “Love Is Here to Stay” number from An American in Paris.

10.  Speaking of Gene Kelly, I love you because when you were asked to choreograph for Madhuri Dixit, you looked to one of the all time great female film songs, “Get Happy” from Summer Stock, for inspiration.  

11.  I love you because in addition to Madhuri, you also worked with Hrithik, not even appearing onscreen with him, just choreographing, possibly the biggest compliment you could give a dancer, trusting his ability to do your choreography.

12. I love you because you managed to straddle multiple industries for years, in a way only your collaborators Rahman and Ratnam managed to do.  You never fully left the Tamil industry, and yet you were known through out India just because of the excellence of your work.

13.  I love you because you might have stayed in the Tamil industry primarily, if it hadn’t been for great personal tragedy which lead to great life changes, your son dying at 13 from cancer in 2008.

14.  I love you because you suffered an even more public problem when your wife filed a petition two years later against you for living with an actress, and you handled it with as much dignity as you could.

15.  I love you because you were smart enough to react to these issues not by trying to get your life back, but by accepting that your life had changed and changing industries to cities, moving to Bombay and working in Hindi film.

16.  I love you because you refused to move backward in your career, you had become a director in Tamil cinema, you took your first Hindi directing job the year your son died, and came back to Bombay as a full time director in 2012, as your marriage had ended and the actress you had left your wife for had also left you (possibly driven away by all the public hatred directed towards her).

17.  I love you because you started your Hindi career with a bang, bringing a remake of one of the all time hits from the south (Pokiri, which I loved, and which you had already remade from Telugu to Tamil), and combining it with Salman Khan’s star power to blast of a whole new genre of Hindi films.

18.  I love you because you also proved that you could choreograph for even weaker dancers.  I love Salman, and think he is the best natural dancer of the Khan’s, but I assume his health issues have severely limited his abilities, and you worked around that.

19.  I love you because in the middle of this career transition, you also agreed to appear in a supporting role in a Malayalam historical film, Urumi.  Not a very good career decision, but a really interesting artistic decision.

20. I love you because you came back to Hindi films another southern remake, Rowdy Rathore.  Once again, you were working with a so-so dancer (fine for normal songs, but not Hrithik or Madhuri level), but you still managed to come up with a unique dance.

21.  Multiple interesting songs!

22.  And one song where you brought in professional dancers as ringers (including my favorite item girl!)

23.  I love you because in the middle of all this, you didn’t forget your dancer roots, appearing in an item song yourself.

24.  And when you were stuck directing a launch film for a producer’s son, you pulled at all stops and appeared in a song yourself in an effort to save it.

25.  And you made another “playing a flute” cameo, just like in your first film at age 13, in a film with Akshay Kumar.

26.  For your 4th directing job, you finally had a trained dancer to play with, along with an actress you had worked with before, and you made the most of it!

27.  Even in a less “dance-y” song, you can still see the perfect grasp of rhythm and control of the body from someone who isn’t an “actor who learned to dance” but rather “a dancer who learned to act”.

28.  Of course, even so, it was still clear who the better dancer was when you appeared onscreen.

29.  I love you because by your 5th Hindi movie, you were self-aware enough to make fun of how your stars can never manage your dance moves.

30.  I love you because you put an actual lion into a movie!

31.  I love you because you are so good, you became an internet sensation in the West a few years back when one of your songs was sent around as “Benny Lava”.  And, okay, it’s horribly offensive.  But I like to think that under all the making fun of different cultures and languages, there’s also an appreciation for your dancing.

32.  I love you because possibly the biggest tribute is that even your fellow choreographers considered you the best, Remo D’Souza (whose birthday was yesterday, Happy Late Birthday Remo!  Here’s your post from last year!) wrote and directed a movie based on that premise, and Ganesh Acharya and Soraj Khan joined you for the final song.

33.  I love you because even in a song where you are just standing there while others dance around you, you are still so graceful that I can’t look away.

34.  I love you because that film proved you had real national and international star powers.  No name actors besides yourself, a dancer who had barely been in Hindi cinema before, and it was a massive hit.

35.  I love you because it was followed up by a sequel with name stars, and you were still the main attraction and made it an even bigger hit.

36.  I love you because that sequel has this amazing song in which the special effects take a backseat to your dance moves.

37.  I love you because you were the reason that Devi/Tutak Tutak Tutiya/Abhinetri released last year in Hindi, Tamil, and Telugu.  You were the one draw that brought together all languages.

38.  I love you because in the next year you will be starring in a Tamil film, your production house is producing to others you aren’t even involved in, and I am sure you are still fielding offers for Hindi directing jobs.  Such a multi-tasker!

39.  I love you because it’s not just in films that your talent stands out.  You shared a stage with Katie Perry and Amitabh Bachchan for the 2012 IPL opening ceremonies, and you were still the headliner.

40.  When Michael Jackson died, your dance inspiration, Shahrukh Khan put together a tribute video, and you were the centerpiece.

41.  In live performances, you have done dance offs with Sridevi and held your own (you will have to take my word for this, IIFA keeps pulling youtube videos)

42.  You held your own against Madhuri too, and for that I do have video, very very grainy video.

43.  I love you because your special appearance in Happy New Year got cheers all 4 times I saw it in theaters.

44.  I love you because you directed a super fun action film to end up 2019, Dabangg 3.

45. I love you because you happily were just part of the crowd in “Bezubaan” in your last film.

46. I love you because you came back with a redo of your own song, 25 years later, and it was even better! “Muqabla”

47.  And finally, I love you because even in your 40s, in a 3D all new dance film filled with special effects and spectacular group numbers, you still managed to beat them all with just one simple solo.

15 thoughts on “Happy Birthday Prabhudeva!!!! 47 reasons I love you (mostly songs)

  1. Good post. I like Prabhu Deva.
    Couple of things –
    I don’t think Mani Ratnam is related to Minsara Kanavu movie. It’s directed by Rajiv Menon, who also made Kandukondein and recently Sarvam Thaalamayam.

    I would’ve liked if you mentioned Nuvvostanante Nenoddantana, his directorial debut somewhere. Also, do watch his second movie as director – with Prabhas – “Pournami”.

    Finally, a bonus Prabhu deva song from early 90s Tamil movie that you might not have seen earlier – some movies used to have a special song with his dance – same trend continued in Gentleman Chikkubuku Raile

    Liked by 1 person

    • Shoot! I made that Minsara Kanuvu typo the first time I wrote this post, and then I copied it over when I cut and pasted it here. DARN!

      On Fri, Apr 3, 2020 at 7:33 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

      >

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Yeah, Prabhu Deva is amazing. He manages to make all those impossible feats look easy. I just have to admit that I’m shallow: His looks kind of distract me. Hrithik is easier on the eyes, so he stays my favorite dancer.

    Also, I have to applaud you on your taste in item dancers. I hadn’t seen your post on Mumait Khan before, but she definitely caught my eye all these years ago in “Lucky”. She just has a special fun energy.

    Like

    • I love Mumait Khan! And I read an interview with her ages ago (in a book, so not something I can link to) and I think she is European? Maybe British origin? What I am saying is, you’ve got a shot! She goes home to visit family, stops off in Germany, is sitting in a cafe, a stranger comes up and says “are you Mumait Khan? I love your dancing!”, love blossoms….

      On Fri, Apr 3, 2020 at 10:42 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      Like

  3. Nice post. Vijay Sethupathi (sorry to make everything about him) continually lists Prabhu Deva as one of his favorite actors, along with MGR and Mohanlal. Because of his expressions and the way he brings out the best in people he shares the screen with.

    The link to the Remo birthday post from last year is not showing up for me, FYI. 🙂

    Like

    • Go ahead, make everything about Vijay! It’s a nice change from me making everything about SRK.

      Fascinating he lists Prabhu as his favorite actor! I think of him as only a so-so actor, because his line delivery is so terrible. But his expressions and body language are on point.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. At 39 minutes in this interview Vijay goes on for 2 minutes about how great Prabhu is, also talking about his own learning curve about movies and acting. Sweet!

    This is one of the few interviews with him that have English subtitles. Such a bummer that he’s wearing those geriatric shades–he was having some problem with boils around his eyes. Yuk!

    Like

    • It’s interesting, his style really plays to Hrithik’s strengths, all grace and liquidy joints, whereas Madhuri and Shahid look like they’re dancing outside their style.

      Like

      • Yes! Hrithik doesn’t just achieve the moves, he adds something to them. Madhuri is definitely struggling, on the other hand. Although that adds something as well, seeing the spark of their two styles together.

        On Sat, Apr 4, 2020 at 6:45 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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        Like

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