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Multifaceted Mohan Babu

Mohan Babu'Things don't come your way; you have to go after them, sweat for them and achieve them. That's the hero's way,' goes a Telugu movie song. Nothing is a better illustration of this truth than the career of the 6 footer Mohan Babu known for his distinct style of action and unique mode of dialogue delivery. Starting as an assistant director, and making a mark for himself at every stage of his career as a villain, villain comedian, hero, he has finally turned a producer. His career or life hasn't always been a bed of roses. He has had his ups and downs at every stage. He has taken them all in his stride and is marching ahead, as ready to withstand the shock of failure as he is to welcome success. Nov 22nd marks the completion of thirty years of his film career. On the occasion let's take look at his life and career.

Birth & Boyhood Born the eldest son of an elementary school headmaster Sri Narayana Naidu and Lakshamma, he was named Bhaktavatsalam Naidu in reverence to Lord Eswara. Perhaps not many might have thought that this Bhaktavatsalam Naidu would grow into the present dominant figure Mohan Babu of the Telugu screen. Taking birth in a small village near Sri Kalahasti, the movie crazy boy, after completing his degree landed a job as a physical training instructor.

On The Streets Of Madras The job, however, could not turn his mind and heart away from a movie career. He moved to Madras where he roamed the streets and went round studios, in search of opportunities to get into movies. He was convinced that the film world was the right place to show his talent in and to get recognition. He had it finally, when in 1969, thanks to his contacts with Dr Prabhakara Reddy, he joined as an apprentice under director Lakshmi Deepak. This did not satisfy him as he preferred to be on the screen to being behind the screen. His introduction to Dasari, then a script writer, was going to be a significant event in his career. When he knew that Dasari, after establishing himself as a director, was contemplating a movie, Mohan Babu approached him for a role.

Mohan BabuDebut As An Actor Mohan Babu had finally the much sought after film role when Dasari cast him as a villain in his 'Swargam-Narakam,' featuring two heroes. On selection for the role Bhaktavatsalam Naidu was transformed into Mohan Babu and the name stuck. Released on Nov 22, 1975, 'Swargam-Narakam,' was a great hit and ran to be a silver jubilee event. That was the beginning and Mohan Babu, now thirty years into the movie world, is still going strong as an actor and producer. The title of his first movie 'Swargam-Narakam,' appears to be significant in his life and career too as they have seen the joys of success and the agonies of failures. Interestingly eighteen of the five hundred eight movies of his are Tamil ones. The hero of 108 movies is still continuing his run in the lead role. Before being cast in a dominant role in 'Swargam- Narakam,' he acted minor roles during his period as an assistant director. Such roles include that of the young man proposed to be married to Vijaya Nirmala in Krishna's 'Alluri Seetharama Raju,' and the role of the hero's friend in the Shobhanbabu starrer 'Kannavari Kalalu'.

An Actor With A Difference Mohan Babu has scaled very great heights as a villain. He has distinguished himself in hero's roles too. He is, in essence, an all rounder, capable of performing any role with equal flair. His gait, his performance and his dialogue delivery reveal him as an actor with a difference, with a distinct style of his own, and capable of presenting any sentiment to the entire satisfaction of his audience. Even Sivaji Ganesan complimented him as being next only to ANR and NTR in matters of discipline as an actor and producer.

A Symbol Of Discipline Mohan Babu's rise to the present position is due only to his discipline and dedication. He would be on the sets at 7 if the call sheet is at 8. Variety marks alike his career and his personality. His intolerance of indiscipline is dubbed by his critics as short temperedness. Mohan Babu takes it only as a compliment. That's how much of a stickler for discipline he is! These comments can never make him turn from the path he has chosen. Those who have studied him closely observe that he has a heart of ice, as though to prove true his surname, 'Manchu'.

Mohan BabuProducer With Taste Though established as a hero, he felt he had not been able to show his talent to the full. The roles offered to him, he felt, did not bring out his real talent. Hence his turning a producer, so that he might have roles that could bring out his real potential. With the blessings of Dasari, and under the banner of Lakshmi Prasanna Pictures, named after his daughter, and with his younger brother Krishna as the production executive, he made, 'Pratigna,' and had the guts to release it on the same day as ANR's 'Gopala Krishnudu.' This earned him the praise of being a producer with courage. Failures didn't depress him much, just as successes did not elevate him a lot. He always took failures and successes in his stride, either as an actor or as a producer, and was never unduly upset by failures. His productions include major hits like, 'Assembly Rowdy,' 'Rowdy Mogudu,' 'Alludu Garu,' 'Pedda Rayudu,' 'Brahma,' 'Rowdy Gari Pellam,' 'Siva Sankar,' 'Postman,' 'Adavilo Anna,' 'Kuntiputrudu,' and 'Major Chandrakanth.' 'Rayalaseema Ramanna Choudary,' is his 500th movie.

Home A Temple Mohan Babu was married to Sri Vidya. She gifted him Lakshmi Prasanna and Vishnu Vardhan. When she died leaving him in great sorrow, he married her sister Nirmala, and Manoj his second son was born. Mohan Babu is a loving husband and caring father. Nirmala is his counsel and support. Rajani Kanth is his chum without whose advice he does nothing. He has stood by Mohan Babu through thick and thin.

Politics An admirer of NTR right from his boyhood, Mohan Babu had his maiden production inaugurated by NTR. He acted along with NTR in his son's role in 'Kondaveeti Simham,' and there was no doubt that he was a match to NTR in histrionics. He made 'Major Chandrakanth,' with NTR as hero and significantly that was NTR's last movie. Out of affection, NTR made him a member of the Rajya Sabha. When Mohan Babu took Chandra Babu Naidu's side in the split of the TDP, Mohan Babu came in for severe criticism as one who ditched his idol. His parting ways with Chandra Babu Naidu again later, did not go well with film and political observers. Subsequently he gave up politics. He joined with the late Paritala Ravi to produce 'Sri Ramulaiah' during the shooting of which, he survived a serious accident to earn the title, 'The conqueror of death.' Mohan Babu proposes to start a political party in which youth will have prominence.

Mohan BabuDynastic Trend Though a number of those in the Telugu movie industry have projected their children on the screen as actors as a matter of course, Mohan Babu did not think of bringing them on the screen until they were trained and ready to fill the roles they were meant for. All his three children acted as child artistes in his movies. He had his daughter Lakshmi Prasanna trained in the department of direction in the US, and his sons as actors in the film institutes in India. The sons are doing lead roles and the daughter is soon going to be on her maiden venture as a director. Mohan Babu thus has the unique distinction of being an actor, producer, and father of acting sons and of a would be director. Mohan Babu certainly looks like growing into an institution. He will be more regarded as an institution than as an individual.

All the best to Bhaktavatsalam Naidu, alias Mohan Babu!!!