A few months before the release of Lakshmi’s NTR, a small video footage on social media went viral causing a flutter in political circles. The footage shows a look-alike former Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu was spotted serving food at a hotel. The buzz surrounding the news immediately caught the attention of director Ram Gopal Varma.
The maverick director, who had been already experimenting with political satires, had been just waiting for the right move to put his ideas and concepts on paper. He immediately announced Rs 1 lakh reward to trace AP CM-lookalike Dhanunjay Prabhune. And the rest wasn’t just history, but a new beginning for Dhanunjay.
Happy about chance
Dhanunjay feels happy about the chance he got to act in movies after witnessing a worst phase of financial crisis and personal loss. “It was in 2018 when someone informed me that director RGV wants to meet me in person. Never did I dream of acting in movies. For the past nine years, my wife Shobha Prabhune had been suffering from severe health issues. She passed away this June due to kidney failure. The incident pushed me to severe debts. And the offer to act in Power Star came as a blessing. Of course, facing the camera is something new. But I grabbed the offer somehow blindly believing RGV,” he shares with Hyderabad Today.
The uncanny appearance
Recalling his days when he ran a hotel in Trimbakeshwar, Nashik, Dhanunjay explained how tourists used to stare at him for his uncanny resemblance to former AP CM Chandrababu Naidu. “Telugu tourists used to call me Babu garu, Chandrababu. But I used to ignore them. Later, I moved to Mumbai to get my wife treated for illness. I am known to few people as a rickshaw union leader in Dombivli. But I had never dreamt that my looks would land me such popularity,” he says. “Even during the promotions of Amma Rajyamlo…, the treatment and the reception I received from people of Andhra was very memorable,” he adds.
To match the mannerism of TDP president, RGV had to put Dhanunjay on several days of rehearsal. RGV ensured that Dhanunjay didn’t quiver even slightly when the camera was rolling. “Harichandra and my translator Gunshyam dispelled all my fears. I would write dialogues in Hindi and Marathi, later learn them by rote to deliver them,” he shares. Dhanunjay is confident of learning Telugu in a short period as he wants to climb more ladders. “Agar hamara Sayaji Rao Shinde bada actor ban sakha toh Dhananjay Prabhune kyun nahin,” he says.
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