Prabhu Deva Sundaram (born 3 April 1973) is an Indian dancer, choreographer, actor and film director. He has been called "India's Michael Jackson" for his fast-paced dance movements, though he has given performances in a wide range of dancing styles.
While he is mainly involved in Tamil cinema, he has also contributed to filmmaking in other Indian film industries, including Telugu cinema, Kannada cinema, and Hindi cinema. He has won a number of awards for his elaborate dance sequences, including two National Awards for Best Choreography (holding the record for the most Best Choreography awards alongside Saroj Khan), a Filmfare Best Choreography Award, and a Filmfare Best Choreography Award (Telugu). He has recently debuted in Bollywood as a director with the blockbuster Wanted.
Prabhu Deva was born in a Kannadiga family in Mysore, Karnataka on 3 April 1973 and grew up in Alwarpet, Chennai, Tamil Nadu. He was inspired by his father, Mugur Sundar, who was a dance master for popular South Indian movies. He took dancing as his career and passion, by learning Indian dances such as Bharatanatyam as well as Western dance styles. His brothers Raju Sundaram and Nagendra Prasad are also established South-Indian choreographers. From choreography he went on to establish himself as an actor. His dance steps helped him become a star in Kollywood (the Tamil film industry). His first movie as a dance director was Vetri Vizha. He has since choreographed over 100 movies. Before starting as a full time actor, he appeared as a background dancer for a song in the Tamil Film Agni Natchathiram. His first movie as a hero was in Indhu (1994) with actress Roja. Deva's success resulted largely from his dancing. In 1999, Deva, Shobhana and A. R. Rahman performed with a Tamil cinema dancing troupe at the "Michael Jackson and Friends" concert in Munich, Germany. He has a significant fan following in the Tamil, Telugu and Kannada film industry. He acted alongside his brothers in the movie 123.
Prabhu Deva is married to Latha and they have three sons - Vishal Deva (born as Basavaraju), Rishi Raghavendra Deva and Aditya Deva.
Deva's 12 year old son Vishal Deva died on 4 December 2008. He was suffering from cancer for a long time. Vishal originally named as Basavaraju, was the eldest amongst the three siblings.
Prabhu Deva was also noticed when he made brief appearances in solo items such as Rajathi Raja in Agni Natchathiram (1988), April Mayile in Idhayam (1991), Lallaku Doldapi Ma in Suriyan (1992), Chinna Rasave in Walter Vetrivel (1993), and Chikku Bukku Raiyle in Gentleman (1993).
He danced with Madhuri Dixit for the song Que Sera Sera in the movie Pukar.
He acted along with Lawrence Raghavendra in the hit movie Style.
He has danced with Apache Indian in the song No Problem in the film Love Birds.
He made a special appearance in Pokkiri (which was directed by himself) with Vijay in the song Aadungada.
He also danced in the film Abra Ka Dabra for the song Om Sh.
He also danced in the Nana Patekar - Karisma Kapoor film Shakti for a song.
He danced with Vijay in Villu movie for the song Hey Rama. This was a guest appearance.
He appeared in a song sequence with superstar Rajinikanth in the Tamil movie 'Baba'.
He is a two-time winner of the National Film Award for Best Choreography for his work on the film Minsaara Kanavu (1997) in Tamil and Lakshya (2004) in Hindi, as well as a Filmfare Best Choreography Award (Telugu) for the Telugu film Nuvvostanante Nenoddantana (2005).
In 2001, he was nominated for the Star Screen Award for Best Choreography, for choreographing the dance sequences in the Hindi film Pukar (2000).
In 2005, he won the Star Screen Award for Best Choreography, the Filmfare Best Choreography Award, and the National Film Award for Best Choreography, for choreographing the dance sequences in the Hindi film Lakshya.
In 2007, he won a Best Director award for the film Pokkiri.
He has been honoured with the life membership of International Film And Television Research Centre of Asian Academy Of Film & Television by Sandeep Marwah.
The Tamil song became widely known to the English internet audience for its phonetic lyrics.
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In August 2007, a music video for the song "Kalluri Vaanil" from the Indian-Tamil movie Pennin Manathai Thottu was uploaded to YouTube by Mike Sutton (Youtuber Buffalax). The video was created as a soramimi, edited to include incorrect English subtitles that approximate the original Tamil lyrics phonetically.
The name Benny Lava comes from Sutton's subtitling of the Tamil lead line "Kalluri vaanil kaayndha nilaavo?" as "My loony bun is fine, Benny Lava!" (original meaning: The moon (metaphor for 'babe') that scorched the college campus"). The video led other Youtube users to refer to Prabhu Deva as "Benny Lava". The video was inspired after Sutton watched Moskau by German pop-band Dschinghis Khan. One of Sutton's friends "wished he could understand the song so he could sing along." Sutton thought the real translation would be difficult and instead used English lyrics that replicated the German song. Reception to the video was mixed; Some felt that the video was done in "good fun" while others worried that their culture was being mocked. The video was described by the Philippine Daily Inquirer as a "Catchy melody, a battalion of back-up dancers, colorful costumes, impressive vocal gymnastics, jaw-dropping choreography this music video has it all. And if those arent enough, the person who uploaded this vid also provided subtitles so you can sing along. They arent the real lyrics though, but just what they sound in English, resulting in a lot of nonsense. - [sic]- " The music video was also featured on The Colbert Report on 4 December 2008.