After a series of cameo appearances in songs from Tamil films, Prabhu Deva was given his first lead role by director Pavithran in the romantic drama film Indhu (1994). Appearing alongside actress Roja and Sarathkumar, Deva's ability to dance was fully utilised in the song sequences, with gaana and disco music thereafter being regularly featured in his films. He made his breakthrough as an actor with Shankar's sophomore film, the romantic drama Kadhalan (1994), where he portrayed a young student who first stands up against his lover's father and then an international terrorist. The film was highly lauded for its technical prowess and went on to win four National Film Awards, while A. R. Rahman's songs and Deva's choreography, especially in the songs "Mukkabla" and "Urvasi Urvasi", became very popular across India. Despite starring relative newcomers, the film went on to become the highest grossing Tamil film of 1994 and the commercial success made Deva a bankable actor. The film also saw success through its dubbed Telugu and Hindi versions, creating a market for Deva in other Indian regional industries. While his next project Raasaiyya (1995) garnered poor reviews and collections, he continued to attract big-budget films and worked in two further films with music by Rahman in 1996, Love Birds and Mr. Romeo. Shot extensively in London, Love Birds received a wide theatrical release in overseas destinations and won Deva positive reviews for his portrayal. Meanwhile, for Mr. Romeo, Deva charged a comparatively high ₹60 lakhs for his remuneration and appeared in a double role alongside Shilpa Shetty and Madhoo. The music and dance portions of both films were praised by critics, though both endured middling performances at the box office.