As the sun rises again, upon the 19th day of March, a legendary man turns the 69th chapter of his life into his past. Born as Manchu Bhakthavatsalam to Manchu Narayanaswamy Naidu and Manchu Lakshmamma in a small town called Modhugulapalem, we found a phenomenon in Manchu Mohan Babu. Today, on his 70th birthday, the world knows him as an actor, producer, educationalist, philanthropist, Dialogue King, Nataprapoorna and Natavachaspathi. Yet, he is so much more. The generations which rejoiced in his stardom and the generations who know heard of him, ought to learn about him.
Mohan Babu itched for doing something bigger than others’ imagination at a young age. It was at the age of 14 when he decided to hone his skills and climbed the stage to perform school plays. What started then has never stopped. Even 40 years into the industry and over 500 films, Mohan Babu remains as relevant as he was in his heydays. While we loved him as the charming hero, he did not disappoint us with his acting skills as the antagonist. Did you know? His film Adavilo Anna continues to hold the record of the one of highest grosser in Hyderabad.
Like most non-filmy families, the Manchu folks did not want their heir to leave a ‘settled life’ at risk to pursue something more ambitious and unconventional. And, our hero wasn’t the one disappoint them. So, he went to the YMCA College of Physical Education and garnered a degree to teach, in Chennai. But when your true calling keeps insists, you cannot stay afar and our hero couldn’t hold it back either. So, during his time in Chennai, he went around film studios and hunted for opportunities.
Finally, in 1969, Mohan Babu got an opportunity to work as an apprentice with director Lakshmi Deepak. And, it was in 1974 that we found his way in front of the camera with Kannavari Kalalu and Alluri Seetha Rama Raju. Popular filmmaker Dasari Narayana Rao was the one give Mohan Babu his biggest breakthrough in 1975 with Swargam Narakam. Eventually, his patience, hardwork and talent made him a superstar soon. That’s when the actor decided to venture into Tamil cinema with the help of yet another legendary actor Sivaji Ganesan. There, Mohan Babu completed over 20 Tamil films with a varied set of roles.
During the glory days of his career, the actor launched his production company, Sree Lakshmi Prasanna Pictures, named after his daughter. The first film produced under this banner was Pratigna, running for 100 days. This success leapt higher when the actor produced Major Chandrakanth with NTR. And this legendary collaboration, directed by Raghavendra Rao, went on to add yet another golden feature. Mohan Babu’s charm in delivering dialogues turned his iconic dialogues into a book called The Dialogue Book, in 2016. This book was launched by the House of Commons, British Parliament.
Mohan Babu’s filmy career can be a topic to be discussed at length, but his career doesn’t start or end in front of the camera. He set out the most ambitious educational institution. Named Sree Vidyanikethan which provides quality education at minimal cost to kids belonging to underprivileged backgrounds. Under the tree of Sree Vidyanikethan, there are two International Schools, a degree college, an engineering college, a pharmacy, management and post-grad colleges. Along with his elder son Vishnu Manchu, Mohan Babu also co-owns 24 Frames Factory.
Having won several Filmfare awards, CineMaa Awards, Life Time Achievements and Special Appreciation Awards, Mohan Babu’s major achievements continue to be The Padma Shri and an honorary doctorate by the college of Berkley for his contribution to cinema and arts. During his term as the Member of Parliament of Rajya Sabha, he also contributed towards the well-being of famine-stroke farmers and other underprivileged families. Although the multi-faceted man is rarely seen on-screen these, we cannot help but wait to see what this time brings upon him.
Wishing Mohan Babu a happy birthday, we sign out. You can watch his film Dongalaku Donga on ZEE5.