Posted Tue, August 9, 2011 5:28pm IST

Here’s wishing the Telugu superstar a happy 37th birthday!

Some say he is the Shahrukh Khan of the South for the sheer energy he brings to his screen persona. Others equate him to Aamir Khan for his choosy ways that resulted in only 15 releases in more than a decade. Still others swear by his handsome looks that remind them of Salman Khan. While fans may differ on their ‘Khan-equation’, there is consensus that Mahesh Babu is the ultimate superstar of Tollywood.

In fact, even the Bollywood Badshah had once commented on television that he actually adored the Telugu star for his choice of movies and the intensity with which he tackles them. The ‘Prince’ of Telugu cinema, who is celebrating his 37th birthday today, has at least two interesting releases lined up. The first of these is slated for release during the Eid Holidays. Titled Dookudu, the movie is an action thriller directed by Srini Vaitla, whose last two releases had Nagarjuna (King) and Victory Venkatesh (Namo Venkatesa). The movie has been shot in foreign locales and has Samantha Ruth Prabhu and Abhimanyu Singh playing major roles. The second one is Businessman, co-authored and directed by Puri Jagannadh, who has also announced a Bollywood version with Abhishek Bachchan in the lead. The actor began shooting for the film recently after a mahurat shot picturised between him and leading lady Kajal Aggarwal in July. The movie comes with a punchline “Guns Don’t Need Agreements” and is being touted as an out-and-out action flick.

Mahesh Babu stuck to the one-film-per-year formula for a substantial part of his career and had only a sole release in 2001 (Murari), 2005 (Athadu) and 2007 (Athidhi). He had no release for the next two years, something unheard of in a film industry where actors fall over each other to remain in public memory.

For an actor who debuted at the age of seven alongside his father (actor Krishna) and appeared in nine films between 1979 and 1990, the ride has been one of the smoothest ever. His debut as an adult in Raja Kumarudu (1999) brought him the Nandi Award for best male debut while also setting the cash registers ringing. After a couple of lacklustre performances, Mahesh Babu was back with a bang in 2001 with Murari hitting the jackpot, followed by superhits like Okkadu, Arjun, Athadu and Pokkiri – considered one of the biggest ever hits of Tollywood. The movie was remade in Tamil and also Hindi as Wanted with Salman Khan. The movie has the distinction of being remade so far in four languages.

Reports say that it was the lukewarm response to his next three movies Sainikudu and Athidhi during 2007 and Khaleja in 2010 that made Mahesh wary of the ways of the box office. He went into partial hibernation and duly came back with not one but two action films. During the time he was courting Bollywood star Namrata Shirodkar, there were reports that Mahesh might enter Bollywood, but nothing has materialised so far. While Namrata has slid comfortably into managing home and hearth and their son Gautham Krishna, hubby Mahesh continues to rule the roost in Tollywood. Here’s hoping that Mahesh Babu returns to action with a vengeance over the next twelve months.