Prakash Rai, also known as Prakash Raj, is an actor and producer in Kannada, Telugu and Tamil film industries: Sandalwood, Tollywood and Kollywood, respectively. Prakash Raj was born Prakash Rai in Mangalore and his mother tongue is Tulu. Now he has shifted his base to Chennai due to numerous offers from Telugu and Tamil films. He was persuaded to change his last name from Rai to Raj by veteran South Indian director K. Balachander. He has acted in Kannada, Tamil, Malayalam, Telugu and Hindi films. His original name ‘Prakash Rai’ in Kannada films was rechristened to ‘Prakash Raj’ by K. Balachander for Prakash Rai’s debut movie ‘Duet’.
Here are some interesting facts about Tulu superstar Prakash Raj.
1. Prakash Raj is a polyglot who can handle Tulu, Kannada, Tamil, Telugu, Marathi, Hindi and Malayalam.
2. Prakash Raj changed his surname from Rai to Raj since it was advised by late Tamil film director K Balachander, who gave him his break in the Tamil film industry.
3. In 1994, Prakash Raj married actress Lalitha Kumari. They have two daughters, Meghana and Pooja, and a son, Sidhu. The couple got divorced in 2009. In 2010, Prakash married choreographer Pony Verma. They have a son, Vedhanth.
4. The veteran actor forayed into the entertainment industry with small roles in Kannada soap-operas. Later, he was offered supporting roles in several Kannada films.
5. Prakash Raj began his acting career with Kannada DoorDarshan serials like Bisilu Kudure and Guddada Bhootha.
6. However, he got his first big break in a Kannada film, titled, Harakeya Kuri. Since then the actor has been flooded with several offers from the Kannada industry. His journey to fame kickstarted with director K Balachander, who identified Prakash Raj’s potential and introduced him to the Tamil industry with the film, Duet.
7. Not many know that Prakash Raj, besides his acting career, also owns a zero-pesticide organic farm back in Hyderabad.
8. Prakash Raj won the National Film award five times. First: Best Supporting actor in 1998 for Mani Ratnam’s Iruvar. Second: Special Jury Award for Anthapuram in 1999. Third: Special Jury Award for various films in 2003. Fourth: Best Actor for Priyadarshan’s Kanchivaram in 2007. Fourth: Best Film for Puttakkana Highway in 2010.
9. Prakash Raj has also established his credentials as a director. He has overseen several hit films in Tamil, Telugu and Kannada. Prakash then turned producer with the Tamil movie, Dhaya, in 2002. He produced content-rich Tamil films like Azhagiya Theeye, Kanda Naal Mudhal, Inidhu Inidhu, Payanam and many more.
10. Prakash Raj has been a very ardent theater fan and has over 2,000 street theater performances to his credit. His first theatre performance happened when he was in Class 7.