Upendra was born as Upendra Rao on September 18, 1967 in a small village near Kundapur, Karnataka. The actor is celebrating his 50th birthday today as we speak.
A fine actor that he is, he also excels in singing, story writing, screenplay and dialogue writing. He has also written lyrics for a few songs as well.
Apart from all these, he is best known for his work as a director. Yes, Upendra's directorial venture started off under the tutelage of his mentor, Kashinath.
Upendra started working under the veteran actor and director, Kashinath as a writer and assistant director. As a pupil under tutelage, Upendra learnt all the necessary skills from his mentor and entered the film industry as a director.
His first film as a full fledged director was Tharle Nan Maga, in the year 1992, wherein he cast Navarasa Nayaka Jaggesh as the protagonist of the film. The film was a huge success which catapulted Jaggesh to stardom.
Thus began the journey of Upendra as a director, who later became a full fledged actor. For this article, we are limiting ourselves to seeing Upendra as a director and we give you 7 best films that he has directed which have changed the face of Sandalwood.
Shhh!, released in 1993, was a horror suspense film that was directed by Upendra and starred Kumar Govind and Kashinath in the lead roles. It was with this film that Kumar Govind was introduced as a hero to KFI.
Shhh! went on to become a major commercial success and it created a new trend of suspense thriller cum horror films in Sandalwood. Interestingly, Upendra also introduced Sadhu Kokila as an actor and music director with this film.
Om is a crime drama film that stars Dr. Shivarajkumar and Prema in lead roles. The film, directed by Upendra, also featured real-life gangsters Bekkina Kannu Rajendra, Tanveer, Korangu Krishna and Jedralli Krishnappa.
Om was the first Kannada film to expose Bengaluru's criminal underworld. It was with this film that the weapon, Long, was introduced for criminal activities. Shivarajkumar is the first actor in Sandalwood to have ever held the weapon on-screen for the first time.
The film, Om, became a cult success at the box office. Till date, the film remains a cult classic, having re-released more than 600 times all over the state. On more than 75 re-releases, the film has run for more than 100 days, an all time world record that remains unbeaten till date.
Starring Upendra and Chandni, A was a psychological romance film written and directed by Upendra himself. This film marked the first ever recorded usage of reverse screenplay and flashbacks within flashbacks.
A also dealt with critical subjects like casting couch and nepotism in the film industry. Interestingly, Upendra debuted on the silver screen as a lead actor with this film. Upendra is also credited to have introduced Guru Kiran as a music director with the film, A.
Swasthik is a terrorism thriller film, directed by Upendra that starred Raghavendra Rajkumar and Vijaylakshmi in lead roles. The film bravely tackled the problem of terrorism and its spreading roots among the youth.
This was the second film that Upendra experimented reverse screenplay with. He also incorporated a non-linear narrative to this film that made the audience watch the film multiple number of times. Swasthik won two Karnataka State Film Awards - Best Art Direction (Ismail) and Best Sound Recording (S. Mahendran).
Probably one of the best psychological thrillers of Sandalwood has to be Upendra. Written and directed by Upendra, Upendra starred Upendra, along with Raveena Tandon, Prema and Damini. It was Upendra's second film as the lead actor.
The film, through the main character, explores three human emotions through the character's relationship with the three female leads, which helped it win two Filmfare Awards - Best Film in Kannada and Best Director in Kannada.
A Japanese who saw the film at a theatre in Bengaluru, was so impressed by it that he took it to Japan and got it screened at the Yubari International Fantastic Film Festival in Japan in 2001. The film later did spawn a sequel, Uppi 2.
Super, is only a name that is given to it by the fans. But, Upendra had other thoughts in mind while naming the film. The actual title of the film is a depiction of a hand symbol (Vitarka Mudra). Upendra made a directorial comeback after a long gap of 11 years with Super.
The thriller cum utopian film showcased a contrast between futuristic India set in the year 2030 and the contemporary India of today. The film starred Upendra and introduced South Indian actress, Nayanthara, to the Sandalwood.
The main story of the film involved the concept of eradicating poverty and corruption by an NRI, who also happens to be a staunch patriot. Incidentally, the protagonist's name in the film is Subash Chandra Gandhi.
Uppi 2 (2015)
Uppi 2 is a psychological thriller film that was made as a sequel to the film, Upendra, which was released in the year 1999. After a huge gap of 5 years, Real Star Upendra took up the daunting subject of making a sequel to one of his most artistic works till date, Upendra.
With Uppi 2, Upendra again experimented with the screenplay and story of the film, and incorporated a non-linear story line to the film. This led to the beginning scene of the film becoming the ending scene of the film, thereby confusing the audience.
Nonetheless, Uppi 2 proved to be a film that makes its audience put on their thinking caps.