Multi talented Tollywood film star Chiranjeevi has 150 successful Telugu films under his belt. After almost a ten-year absence from the industry and bearing a distinctive handlebar mustache with stubble, he’s finished filming Khaidi No 150, a remake of a Tamil classic. At 61, does this megastar who has earned critical success as an actor, dancer, politician, member of the Indian National Congress and investor feel that it’s time for a bit of a rest? Not a chance. In fact, he’s up for exciting new challenges. Telugu-language TV channel MAA TV announced, to the surprise of the huge regular audiences of its Telugu TV shows, that Chiranjeevi, fondly known as Chiru, will be replacing Akkineni Nagarjuna, known by his fans as the King’, after just three seasons, as host for the next season of popular Telugu quiz series Meelo Evaru Koteeswarudu (MEK), which starts this December and it is very important.
Formerly a shareholder in MAA TV, Nagarjuna who is also a close personal friend of Chiranjeevi, is known to have recently sold his shares in MAA TV and is planning a return to his illustrious film career. But will Chiranjeevi manage to bring the same level of sheer magic and eloquent grace to the MEK TV show – a Telugu version of the British runaway success show Who Want to Be A Millionaire?’ that was first screened on TV in 1998 – that Nagarjuna achieved with such aplomb and popularity? It is understood that Chiranjeevi is keen on downplaying his political profile, at this point in his career, and honing his status as a film performer. Will his small screen debut in December take his career to greater heights?
Admittedly, it is the strength, confidence, popularity and charisma of the host that can define a live TV show of this nature, where the stakes are very high, the money is real and the participants are just ordinary (and very brave) members of the public. A vast Telugu-speaking audience all over the world regularly watches Telugu TV Channels, choosing what is arguably the biggest and best resource of Indian Live TV channels on the web. With the December season’s teaser about to be launched on TV in early October as it is well known, the TV channel decision makers might be putting a whole new spin on the MEK show in addition to its many international loyal followers as this is the most important to them.