Manchu Bhakthavatsalam Naidu
19 March 1952
|Alma mater||Madras Film Institute|
YMCA College of Physical Education
|Occupation||Actor and Producer|
|Awards||Padma Shri (2007)|
Manchu Bhakthavatsalam Naidu, credited and also known as Mohan Babu, is an Indian actor and producer known for his works predominantly in Telugu cinema. An alumnus of the Madras Film Institute, Mohan Babu has acted in more than 500 films in lead, supporting and a variety of roles.
In 1995, he received Filmfare Award for Best Actor – Telugu for his work in the multi-starrer Pedarayudu, which also starred Rajinikanth in a pivotal role. In 2007, he received the CineMAA Award for Best Supporting Actor for his work in Yamadonga. Mohan Babu was honored at the University of California, Berkeley for his contribution to the field of cinema and education. He is the co-owner of production companies such as Sree Lakshmi Prasanna Pictures, 24 Frames Factory and Manchu Entertainment. In 2017, he garnered the Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award – South. In 2017, he received the "Special Appreciation Award" for completing "forty years in cinema" at the 6th South Indian International Movie Awards.
A former Physical Education Instructor, Mohan Babu is a noted educationalist, and operates Sri Vidya Niketan Educational Institutions, and is the founder of Sree Vidyanikethan Educational Trust. In the year 2007, he received the Padma Shri for his contribution to the field of Arts and education. He is a former Member of Parliament – Rajya Sabha from Andhra Pradesh after being elected in the year 1995. He was also a Deputy into the International Parliament for Safety and Peace. He is referred to in the media as Dialogue King, Collection King, Nataprapoorna, and Natavachaspathi.
He received critical reception for his antagonist roles in works such as Alluri Seetharama Raju (1974), Swargam Narakam (1975), Gorantha Deepam (1978), Sivaranjani (1978), Padaharella Vayasu (1978), Driver Ramudu (1979), Sardar Papa Rayudu (1980), Satyam Shivam (1981), Premabhishekam (1981), Chattaniki Kallu Levu (1981), Patnam Vachina Pativrathalu (1982), Grihalakshmi (1984), Adavi Donga (1985), Khaidi No.786 (1988), Gruhapravesam (1988), Janaki Ramudu (1988), Lankeshwarudu (1989), Kodama Simham (1990), Kondaveeti Donga (1990), Annamayya (1997), and Sri Jagadguru Aadi Sankara (2013). On the other hand, he starred in works such as Alludugaru (1990), Assembly Rowdy (1991) Allari Mogudu (1992), Major Chandrakanth (1993), Veedevadandi Babu (1991), Pandavulu Pandavulu Thummeda (2014), and Rowdy (2014).
Mohan Babu was born to Manchu Narayanaswamy Naidu and Manchu Lakshmamma in the Modhugulapalem village near the banks of the river Swarnamukhi. He grew up with his three younger brothers, Ranganatha Chowdary, Ramachandra Chowdary, Krishna and his sister Vijaya. After finishing primary schooling from Yerpedu village, he attended the S. P. J. N. M High School in Tirupati. As a child, Mohan Babu developed an interest in the stage and actively appeared in school plays from the age of 14. His father, a headmaster, was keen on his son pursuing an academic career. It was during this time that Mohan Babu moved to Chennai and acquired a degree in Physical education from the YMCA College of Physical Education.
Mohan Babu began his career as a Physical education instructor at the YMCA college of physical education for many years. Drawn to arts as a child and convinced that the film industry was the place meant for him, Mohan Babu started traveling to many studios based in Chennai in search of opportunities. Finally, in the year 1969, he received an opportunity to work with director Lakshmi Deepak as an apprentice, marking his entry into the film industry. He spent many years behind the camera until his thirst for acting and expression brought him on the screen with the 1974 films Kannavari Kalalu and Alluri Seetha Rama Raju as an actor.
During this time, Mohan Babu was introduced to Dasari Narayana Rao who was then a script writer in Tollywood. This would pan out to become the most significant event of his career. Mohan Babu's first major breakthrough as an actor came with the 1975 film Swargam Narakam, directed by Dasari Narayana Rao. Dasari cast him as a villain in the movie and went on to achieve great success. It was after this movie that his birth name Bakthavatsalam Naidu was changed to Mohan Babu. After appearing in many films as a comedy-villain, he proceeded to star as the leading actor in Khaidi Kalidasu, Ketugadu, Gruhapravesham, Assembly Rowdy, Allari mogudu and many more. After receiving success in Telugu Cinema, Mohan Babu as a lover of arts was also drawn to the happenings of Tamil Cinema. After being initiated into the Tamil Film Industry by Sivaji Ganesan, he went on to appear in over 20 Tamil films as in Mohan Babu filmography with a multitude of roles to his credit.
Starting out in the late 70s and early 80s, Mohan Babu quickly established himself as the finest actor of his generation. In his initial films, he's no different from many of his contemporaries. It is a known fact that late veteran director Dasari Narayana Rao noticed something unique about him and professed that Mohan Babu had a fire to succeed in his eyes. He was given a negative role in the film Swargam Narakam, where he played a rich kid and Mohan Babu's career kicked off. He portrayed villain roles alongside the legendary actors of Telugu cinema such as NTR, ANR, etc. He started to appear in more villainous roles and it was in the 1980s people realized something unique about Mohan Babu. Once established in Tollywood, he became the goody for playing the hero of numerous films.
A shift in Mohan Babu's career took place in 1978 with Sivaranjani, a blockbuster hit at the box office. The movie heralded the 'villain' and also came out with many of the mannerisms. He had an outstanding mentor in the form of Dasari Narayana Rao, who guided him in the right direction and gave him the initial foundation substratum he required to do well. Mohan Babu followed this success by portraying a variety of roles in his next films such as Simha Garjana (1978), Simha Baludu (1978), Ramakrishnulu (1978), Padaharella Vayasu (1978), Nayudu Bava (1978), Shokilla Rayudu (1979) and Ramude Ravanudaithe (1979). His roles in Patnam Vachina Pativrathalu (1982), Billa Ranga (1978), Dharma Poratam (1983), Padmavyooham (1973), Bhale Ramudu (1984) and Sanchalanam (1985), showed a diverse range, despite often playing the villain.
Throughout the 1980s and early 1990s, Mohan Babu achieved moderate success in such films as Triloka Sundari (1980), Sita Ramulu (1980), Taxi Driver (1981), Sawaal (1982), Pralaya Garjana (1983), Seethamma Pelli (1984), Tirugubotu (1985), Viswanatha Nayakudu (1987), Atmakatha (1988), Black Tiger (1989) and Prananiki Pranam (1990). Mohan Babu continued to take on a variety of comedic roles, starring in such films as Detective Narada (1992), Veedevadandi Babu (1997), Tappu Chesi Pappu Koodu (2002) and Pandavulu Pandavulu Tummeda (2013).
By 1990, Mohan Babu was a big topic in the film industry. Assembly Rowdy (1991) propelled him into the superstar status. He always analyzes himself and focuses on his strengths to invent himself, which allowed his stardom to further rise. Films such as Alludugaru (1990) and Assembly Rowdy (1991) from the mid-1990s onwards projected him as a dialogue king, who could say difficult dialogues perfectly, while Mohan Babu defined his targeted audience by playing a variety of roles in films such as Rowdy Gari Pellam (1991), Allari Mogudu (1992) and Pedarayudu (1995), which promoted him as the collection king in the film industry.
He followed with Rayalaseema Ramanna Chowdary (2000), Adhipathi (2001), Shiva Shankar (2004), Political Rowdy (2005), Game (2006), Yamadonga (2007), Krishnarjuna (2008), Bujjigadu (2008), Raju Maharaju (2009), Saleem (2009), Jhummandi Naadam (2010), Rowdy (2014), Yamaleela 2 (2014) and Mama Manchu Alludu Kanchu (2015).
Family sentiment movie 'Gayatri' was released on 9 February 2018. Mohan Babu's high voltage performance in dual role is reviewed by the critics as major highlight of the movie. In this movie, which is Mohan Babu's own production, his Son Vishnu Manchu played the character of young Mohan Babu, and he fit the bill very well in enacting the histrionics of his father.
Mohan Babu did a special role in Mahanati, biographical film based on the life of actress Savitri released on 9 May 2018. He portrayed the role of legendary S. V. Ranga Rao in the movie .
His next film Soorarai Pottru (2020) was released on OTT platform Amazon Prime, and in Telugu as Aakaasam Nee Haddhu Raa.
As of October 2020, he launched Son of India a Telugu film, directed by Diamond Ratnababu and produced by Vishnu Manchu. Mohan Babu has penned screenplay for the film.
Though not announced officially, Mohan Babu declared that his next films would be mythological film Ravana Brahma and historical film Bhakta Kannappa.
Mohan Babu continued his foray into the film industry by wanting to seize opportunities to experiment with his acting skills. In the year 1982, 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, Rayalaseema Ramanna Chowdary and many more.
As an ardent admirer of N.T. Rama Rao, in the year 1993, Mohan Babu produced Major Chandrakanth, starring N.T. Rama Rao and himself . The movie was directed by K. Raghavendra Rao, and went on to become a major blockbuster. The movie also celebrated its silver jubilee and stands as the last movie in N.T. Rama Rao's film career.
Known for his long association with the late N.T. Rama Rao, Mohan Babu ardently campaigned for the Telugu Desam Party (TDP), when it was led by N. T. Rama Rao 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.
While serving his tenure in the Rajya Sabha, he was also a member of the Committee on Human Resource Development from 1996 to 1997, the committee on Urban and Rural Development and the Consultative Committee for the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. As part of the Social Forestry programme, he took charge of extensive sapling plantation in scores of villages with the help of villagers and the Vana Samrakshana Samithis. He also initiated programmes on health, nutrition and education on a large scale for the rural populace.
During the Ralayaseema drought, he toured many villages extensively to address the plight of the agrarian community and offer solutions for disaster management including crop preservation. During these visits, he also worked towards tackling the shortage of drinking water in many villages.
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.
Mohan Babu is also known to have actively participated in improving the living standards of many underprivileged artists in the South Indian Film Industry. Mohan Babu stayed away from politics after NTR's demise. He joined YSR Congress Party in 2019 and campaigned for Y. S. Jaganmohan Reddy in becoming CM. Though not actively involved in political activities, he raises his voice against any injustice in the society. There are speculations that BJP has invited Mohan Babu to join the national party as he met PM Narendra Modi along with his family in the beginning of 2020.
Due to severe drought, the Rayalaseema people and agrarian community were cut off from necessary food supplies. Due to the event, plenty of people suffered from starvation. During his tenure as a Rajya Sabha MP, Mohan Babu visited the drought hit region and created some solutions to help the victims of famine.
Mohan Babu developed his love of acting and passed it along to his children, with three kids following his footsteps into the film and education sector and carrying on his legacy. His daughter Lakshmi Manchu was appointed as the brand ambassador of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan by the Prime Minister of India. Manchu Vishnu and Manchu Manoj have undertaken many initiatives to improve the condition of underprivileged children who were flood victims in the past.
Mohan Babu and his family are frequently targeted by trolls in Telugu media.
Mohan Babu established the Sree Vidyanikethan Educational Trust in 1993. Today, Sree Vidyanikethan runs the 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.
Mohan Babu was married to Vidya Devi with whom he has a son Manchu Vishnu and a daughter Manchu Lakshmi Prasanna – both actors in the film industry. After her death, he married her sister, Nirmala Devi, with whom he has a son Manchu Manoj, also an actor.
As he completed 40 years in the film industry, the actor's popular dialogues were compiled in a book, named "Dialogue Book", which was launched in the House of Commons, British Parliament, on 11 May 2016. This book launch event was hosted by Asian Lite, in association with Bob Blackman, Member of Parliament. This was the first time that a Telugu film personality got honoured in the House of Commons, British Parliament.
Main article: Mohan Babu filmography