Versatile actor-educationalist-philanthropist and Padma Award recipient Dr Mohan Babu carved a niche for himself in Telugu Film Industry. The 62-yr-old has turned 40 in filmdom on Saturday. Mohan Babu made his acting debut as lead villain with 1975’s blockbuster Swargam Narakam.
Although he acted in small-time roles in Kannavari Kalalu and Alluri Seetha Rama Raju (1974), it’s director Dasari Narayana Rao who turned Manchu Bakthavathsalam Naidu into Mohan Babu. Starring newcomers then Mohan Babu, Annapoorna (later went on to do character roles like mother, mother-in-law), Swargam Narakam released on Nov 22, 1975 ran successfully in theatres for 175 days (silver-jubilee). It was later remade into Hindi as Swarg Narak. Since then Mohan Babu never looked back.
Villain to Hero:
Mohan Babu soon transformed from villain to lead hero. After appearing in several films as a comedy-villain, he proceeded to star as the leading actor in Khadi Kalidasu, Ketugadu, Gruhapravesham, Assembly Rowdy, Allari mogudu and etc.
It’s Mohan Babu’s discipline that made him a star. In fact, Mohan Babu’s discipline is in his roots. He kick started his career as a Physical Education Instructor at a college for many years. He continued his discipline even after tasting success in films. This earned him several friends across film industry and political fraternity. Superstars like Rajinikanth, politicians like late Paritala Ravi, Susheel Kumar Shinde are close friends of Manchu patriarch.
Mohan Babu’s discipline helped him in building successful-educational institutions. Mohan Babu established the Sree Vidyanikethan Educational Trust in the year 1993. He established chain of educational institutions like Sree Vidyanikethan International School, Sree Vidyanikethan degree College, Sree Vidyanikethan Engineering College, Sree Vidyanikethan College of Pharmacy, Sree Vidyanikethan College of Nursing, The Sree Vidyanikethan College of Management and the Sree Vidyanikethan College for Post Graduation Studies. He subsequently ventured into film production. Mohan Babu established Sree Lakshmi Prasanna Pictures. Named after his daughter Lakshmi Manchu, the movie house released Pratigna. The film was very successful and went on to be showcased in theaters for 100 days. Under Mohan Babu’s guidance, the production company went on to deliver major blockbusters including Assembly Rowdy, Rowdygari Pellam, Alludu Garu, Major Chandrakanth, Pedarayudu and Rayalaseema Ramanna Chowdary and many more.
Known for his long association with the late NT Rama Rao, Mohan Babu rallied for the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) when it was led by NTR and consequently joined the party in 1982. While he was making his political presence felt, Mohan Babu received a nomination for Rajya Sabha as a Member of Parliament representing Andhra Pradesh in the year 1995. During his six year tenure with the Rajya Sabha, Mohan Babu undertook various projects to develop the Chittoor district including laying roads, providing clean water, developing sanitation and hygiene.
After leaving the TDP, Mohan Babu continued with his career in the film industry. While in the midst of producing a movie titled Sri Ramuliah, he narrowly escaped a bomb blast which killed 23 people and injuring 35 others in Jubilee Hills, Hyderabad.
His straight-forwarded nature, uncompromising mentality had landed him in controversies several times. Especially, his alleged rift with his counterpart Chiranjeevi was one of the most-talked about. Later the duo buried their hatchet and revived their friendship. Not long ago, the controversy over he “misusing” title Padma Shri surfaced, however, he overcame it after Supreme Court directing him to not to use the national award in prefix or sufix.