Mahesh Babu

Ghattamaneni Mahesh Babu (born 9 August 1975) is an Indian film actor, producer, media personality, and philanthropist. One of the highest paid Telugu film actors, Babu has appeared in more than 25 films, and won several accolades including, eight Nandi Awards, five Filmfare Awards, three CineMAA Awards, three South Indian International Movie Awards, and one International Indian Film Academy Award.[2][3] He also owns the production house G. Mahesh Babu Entertainment.

Mahesh Babu
Mahesh Babu in Spyder (cropped).jpg
Mahesh Babu in Spyder in 2017
Born
Ghattamaneni Mahesh Babu

(1975-08-09) 9 August 1975 (age 45)[1]
Madras, Tamil Nadu, India (now Chennai)
Alma materLoyola College Chennai
OccupationFilm actor
Years active1979–1990 (child actor),
1999–present (lead actor)
Works
Full list
Spouse(s)
(m. 2005)
Children2
Parent(s)Krishna (father)
Vijaya Nirmala (step-mother)
Relatives
Signature
Mahesh-babu-autograph.png

The younger son of veteran Telugu actor Krishna, Babu made his debut as a child artist in a cameo role in Needa (1979), at the age of four, and acted in eight other films as a child artist. He made his debut as a lead actor with Rajakumarudu (1999) which won him Nandi Award for Best Male Debut. Babu achieved his breakthrough with the supernatural drama Murari (2001), and the action film Okkadu (2003). He went on to act in other commercially successful films such as Athadu (2005), Pokiri (2006), Dookudu (2011), Businessman (2012), Seethamma Vakitlo Sirimalle Chettu (2013), 1: Nenokkadine (2014), Srimanthudu (2015), Bharat Ane Nenu (2018), Maharshi (2019), and Sarileru Neekevvaru (2020). Pokiri held the record of being the highest-grossing Telugu film while Sarileru Neekevvaru, his highest grosser, collected over ₹2.6 billion at the box office.[4][5]

Referred to in the media as the Prince of Tollywood, he is one of the most popular and influential actors of Telugu cinema,[6][7] and is described as the superstar of Telugu cinema by his fans.[8] In addition to being an actor, he is a humanitarian and philanthropist - he runs a charitable trust and non-profit organisation, Heal-a-Child.[9] He is also associated with Rainbow Hospitals as their goodwill ambassador.[10] He plunged into the film exhibition business along with Narayandas Narang of Asian Group with the inauguration the seven-screen superplex at Gachibowli AMB Cinemas.[11]

Early life

Babu was born on 9 August 1975 in Madras (now Chennai), Tamil Nadu, India.[12] He is the fourth of the five children of Telugu actor Krishna and Indira, after Ghattamaneni Ramesh Babu, Padmavathi and Manjula Swaroop and before Priyadarshini. His childhood was spent mostly in Madras under the care of his maternal grandmother Durgamma and the rest of his family.[13] Since Krishna was busy with his film commitments, Ramesh Babu used to look after Mahesh Babu's academic performance.[12] Along with his siblings, Babu used to play cricket regularly at the VGP Golden beach in Madras. To spend time with him, Krishna used to make sure that his films' shoots would be conducted at the VGP Universal Kingdom during the weekends.[12]

Krishna also made sure that none of his children would reveal his name during their schooling to ensure a peaceful environment.[12] He was educated at St. Bede's Anglo Indian Higher Secondary School, Chennai where actor Karthi was his schoolmate.[14][15] Babu in an interview said that actor Vijay and he have been longtime close friends and studied at the same college before establishing themselves in their respective film industries.[16] Babu was an above average student. He obtained a bachelor's degree in commerce from the Loyola College, Chennai.[17] After graduating, he met with director L. Satyanand in Vishakhapatnam for further training in acting which went on for three to four months.[17] Being unable to read and write Telugu, he used to memorise the dialogues given by his directors during the dubbing phase of his films.[18]

Acting career

Early career and breakthrough (1979–2003)

At the age of four, Babu visited the sets of the Telugu film Needa (1979) where its director Dasari Narayana Rao shot a few sequences of his as a part of the narrative in the presence of the former's brother Ramesh. Needa marked his debut as a child actor.[19] During the shoot of Poratam (1983) at Vauhini Studios, after watching Babu on the sets, director Kodi Ramakrishna suggested to Krishna that he cast Babu in the role of the protagonist's brother. Initially terrified, Babu agreed to act in the film after being persuaded by the film's crew.[19] He went on to act as a child artist in the films Shankharavam (1987), Bazaar Rowdy (1988), Mugguru Kodukulu (1988) and Gudachari 117 (1989). He played a dual role in the film Koduku Diddina Kapuram (1989). Babu then appeared in Bala Chandrudu (1990), and Anna Thammudu (1990). Later, he continued his college studies.[20]

In 1999, Babu made his debut as a lead actor with the film Raja Kumarudu, directed by K. Raghavendra Rao and co-starring Priety Zinta. The film was commercially successful, and people began referring to him with the title Prince.[21] He received the Nandi Award for Best Male Debut.[22] He starred in two films the following year – Yuvaraju and Vamsi. Following their poor performance at the box office, Babu starred in Krishna Vamsi's Murari the next year. He called Murari an important film in his career and the role he played in it one of his favourites.[23][24] Murari was a commercial success and earned him the Nandi Special Jury Award.[22] Though his 2002 releases Takkari Donga and Bobby performed poorly at the box office, Babu received his second Nandi Special Jury Award for his performance in the former.[22]

Babu had two film releases in 2003, the first one being Gunasekhar's Okkadu co-starring Bhumika Chawla, which went on to become the highest grossing Telugu film of the year collecting 23 crores at the box office.[25] He won his first Filmfare Award for Best Actor – Telugu for his performance in the film.[26] The other release was Teja's Nijam co-starring Rakshita. The film was noted for introducing Dolby EX surround system in Telugu cinema.[27] Though the film was a commercial failure,[28] Babu received praise from the critics for his performance in the film, with Vijayalaxmi of Rediff.com calling him the only reason to watch the film's second half which she termed a routine tale of vendetta.[29] He won his first Nandi Best Actor Award for his performance in the film.[30]

Mainstream film acclaim and success (2004–2010)

Manjula produced his next film, Naani, directed by S. J. Surya co-starring Amisha Patel. While its simultaneously shot Tamil version New featuring a different cast was commercially successful, Naani flopped at the box office.[23] He received the Nandi Special Jury Award for his performance in his next film, Arjun, directed by Gunasekhar and produced by Ramesh.[31] The failure of Naani depressed both Babu and Manjula, who took a small break in Goa before resuming their other commitments.[32] He chose to act in Trivikram Srinivas's Athadu, co-starring Trisha Krishnan, whose script had been approved back in 2002 before the production of Naani and Arjun had begun.[33] Athadu became one of the highest-grossing films of the year.[34] The film was a commercially profitable venture for the producers and distributors.[35] The film benefited Babu's career as he won the Nandi Best Actor Award for his performance in the role of a hired assassin.[36] Athadu collected a share of 25 crores at the box office.[37]

Babu collaborated with Puri Jagannadh in 2006 for the film Pokiri, which was jointly produced by Jagannadh and Manjula.[38] Made on a budget of 100 million and shot within six months,[39] Pokiri became the highest grossing Telugu film of all time by the end of its run, and was screened at the 7th IIFA Awards held in Dubai.[40] Babu received praise for his performance, with Y. Sunita Chowdary of The Hindu opining that "Mahesh's understated performance in Pokiri allows him effortlessly to reclaim the title of a star, overshadowing more questionable recent career choices".[38] He won the Filmfare Award for Best Actor – Telugu for the second time.[41]Pokiri grossed 67 crores at the box office.[42] That same year, his next film, Sainikudu, co-starring Trisha, was released amid huge expectations but flopped at the box office.[43]

The following year saw Babu acting in the film Athidhi, co-starring Amrita Rao marking her Telugu debut. The film was produced by Mahesh Babu's's brother Ramesh.[44] UTV Motion Pictures acquired the film's distribution rights for 185 million, which became its first Telugu film venture.[45] In 2008, Babu provided voice-over for the film Jalsa directed by Trivikram Srinivas.[46]

After Athidhi's release, Babu took a break from films for seven months; two months later, he signed Khaleja, but the break was unintentionally extended for two years due to several delays. During this time, Babu's grandmother and his wife Namrata's parents died. Krishna was worried about Babu's career as the film's shoot was delayed for so long.[47] Upon release, Khaleja received mixed reviews from critics and was a commercial failure in India.[48] However, it managed to perform well at the overseas box office.[49]

Stardom and career setback (2011–2014)

In 2011, Babu collaborated with Srinu Vaitla for the film Dookudu, which was inspired in part by the 2003 German tragicomedy film Good Bye, Lenin!.[50] Co-starring Samantha Ruth Prabhu, the film received positive reviews upon release and became one of the highest-grossing films of the year. Dookudu had the largest opening for a Telugu film, and collected a share of 101.1 million and a gross of 125.8 million on the first day of its release.[51] The Los Angeles Times called Dookudu the "biggest hit you've never heard of".[52] For his performance in the film, Babu won the Best Actor Award at the 2012 Nandi Awards ceremony.[53] He also won the Filmfare Award for Best Actor – Telugu at the 59th Filmfare Awards South and 1st South Indian International Movie Awards ceremonies.[54][55] After the film's gross crossed the 1 billion mark, Income Tax Department officials conducted a raid on Babu's Jubilee Hills residence as he was rumored to be getting a remuneration of more than 1.2 million for his next projects.[56] The film collected a distributor share of 574 million in its lifetime and grossed more than 1 billion in its lifetime.[57]

He later played the role of a mafia kingpin with a hidden personal agenda in the film Businessman, co-starring Kajal Aggarwal and directed by Puri Jagannadh.[58] Upon the film's release, Babu received praise from the critics for his performance in the film, with Y. Sunita Chowdary of The Hindu writing, "The film has no frills, no vulgar wastage and the hero is practically in every frame; you hear only his voice, he looks good, sounds good, he also steals the comedian's job. Mahesh plays it straight.".[59] It grossed approximately 187.35 million and collected a share of 137.8 million at the global box office on its first day creating an all-time record in terms of opening day collections.[60] Businessman became one of the highest grossing Telugu films of the year.[61] Businessman collected a share of 41 crores at the box office.[62] He received a nomination for Filmfare Award for Best Actor – Telugu at both the 60th Filmfare Awards South and the 2nd South Indian International Movie Awards ceremonies.[63][64] By then, Babu was reported to be the second highest-paid actor in South India after Rajinikanth.[65]

 
Babu receiving Best Actor – Telugu Award at the 61st Filmfare Awards South from Tamannaah for his performance in the film Seethamma Vakitlo Sirimalle Chettu (2013)

Babu then began filming for Srikanth Addala's Seethamma Vakitlo Sirimalle Chettu, whose script Babu had approved during the pre-production phase of Dookudu.[66] Co-starring Daggubati Venkatesh along with Anjali and Samantha Ruth Prabhu, Seethamma Vakitlo Sirimalle Chettu became the first Telugu multistarrer film to be produced in the last twenty-five years.[67] Released in January 2013, the film became one of the highest grossing Telugu films of the year and marked the completion of Babu's hat-trick of successful films.[68] He won the Filmfare Award for Best Actor – Telugu at the 61st Filmfare Awards South ceremony and the 3rd South Indian International Movie Awards ceremony.[69][70] He provided voice-over for Srinu Vaitla's Baadshah the same year.[71] Seethamma Vakitlo Sirimalle Chettu collected a distributor share of ₹512 million and was the second-highest-grossing Telugu film of the year.[72]

Babu had two releases in 2014, the first one being Sukumar's 1: Nenokkadine, an action thriller focusing on a celebrity suffering from hallucinations related to the murder of his parents and the discovery of a special variety of rice. Kriti Sanon played the female lead in this film, marking her acting debut.[73] Made on a budget of around 70 crores, 1: Nenokkadine was released amid huge expectations, but received mixed reviews from the critics, turning out to be a box office bomb by incurring a loss of around 26–27 crores.[74] However, Babu's performance received praise, with critics calling it one of his best performances.[75][76][77] He also earned a nomination for the Best Actor – Telugu at the 4th South Indian International Movie Awards.[78] Grossing over $1.32 million,1: Nenokkadine became the fourth-highest-grossing Telugu film in history at the United States box office at that time.[79] The other release, Aagadu, directed by Srinu Vaitla and co-starring Tamannaah, flopped at the box office,[80] even though it had a gross of 60 crores.[81] Karthik Pasupulate of The Times of India gave the film 3 out of 5 stars and called Aagadu "Dookudu 2.0" in operating system parlance. Pasupulate added that it seems more like a remake of Dookudu with a "much louder Mahesh Babu, more banal jokes, and a few superficial twists in the screenplay", and that the end product is "more slapstick than funny".[82]

Resurgence and recent work (2015–present)

Babu collaborated with Koratala Siva for the action drama film Srimanthudu co-starring Shruti Haasan. He co-produced the film under his newly formed banner G. Mahesh Babu Entertainment Pvt. Ltd, marking his first film production venture.[83] He opted to do so in order to control the film's budget, accepting a share in profits in lieu of remuneration.[84] Released on 7 August 2015, Srimanthudu opened to positive reviews from critics,[85] was commercially successful, and he gained the Filmfare Award for Best Actor – Telugu at the 63rd Filmfare Awards South,[86] marking his resurgence.[87] Sethumadhavan N. of Bangalore Mirror stated, Srimanthudu wouldn't have been as effective if it did not have Mahesh Babu who is at his charming best, adding that he "underplays the emotional scenes, making them a treat to watch".[88]

The film was a commercial success, grossing nearly ₹2.0 billion globally on a budget of ₹400-700 million and becoming the second-highest grossing Telugu film of all time and the highest grossing Telugu-language-only movie. After the film's release, many actors, bureaucrats and politicians announced plans to develop backward villages and encouraged the adoption of villages in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.[89] Babu himself has adopted his native village, Burripalem.[90]

Babu acted in Srikanth Addala's film Brahmotsavam co-starring Kajal Aggarwal, Samantha Ruth Prabhu and Pranitha Subhash. Originally produced as a bi-lingual, the film would've marked Babu's first straight Tamil film. However, later on the plan was altered due to its disastrous performance at the Telugu box office and the film wasn't released in Tamil.[91] While the film underperformed at the box office, the Deccan Chronicle stated that Mahesh Babu was its saving grace. The film was criticised by the public, for its lack of a proper story.[92] Babu stated that this was an error of judgement, where he had picked the wrong director.[93] He later appeared in the Telugu-Tamil bilingual Spyder, directed by A. R. Murugadoss, which finally marked his Tamil cinema debut[94] and grossed over ₹113 crores at the box office.[95] His next film was a political action drama Bharat Ane Nenu, directed by Koratala Siva and co-starring Kiara Advani. In this film, he played the role of a chief minister. It went on grossed more than ₹187 crore, and was second highest-grossing film of that year.[96] His next film, Maharshi (2019) collected a total of ₹175 crore wordwide.[97] Hemanth Kumar of firstpost mentioned the film owes a lot to Mahesh Babu’s conviction to pull off his role and he makes you believe in his characterisation so much that it doesn’t feel like fiction. His flamboyance in the college sequences and the maturity with which he pulled off the village segments is noteworthy.[98] His 2020 film Sarileru Neekevvaru collected 260 crores in worldwide box office, becoming one of the highest-grossing Telugu film.[99][100] Hemanth Kumar of Firstpost mentioned Sarileru Neekevvaru packages oodles of humour and action in right measures for Babu to hit the ball out of the park. Everything else is just a bonus or a distraction.[101] Babu's next film, Sarkaru Vaari Paata will mark his maiden collaboration with director Parasuram.[102]

In the media

Mahesh Babu is considered one of the most popular actors in Telugu cinema.[103] His popularity has been documented in several Telugu films such as Ashta Chamma (2008),[104] Kiraak (2014),[105] and Superstar Kidnap (2015).[106] He joined Twitter in April 2010 and has 9.5 million followers as of May 2020.[107] He was ranked twelfth on the Times' 50 Most Desirable Men in India for the year 2010,[108] fifth in 2011,[109] and second in 2012.[110] He climbed to the first position of the same list for the year 2013, beating the likes of Hrithik Roshan, Salman Khan, and Shah Rukh Khan.[111] He stood at sixth place on the same list for the year 2014,[112] sixth in 2015,[113] seventh in 2016,[114] and sixth in 2017.[115] He was then added to the Forever Desirable list along with Salman Khan, Shah Rukh Khan, Akshay Kumar, and Aamir Khan.[116]

Babu is an ambassador for about a dozen South Indian brands.[117][118] In 2007, he signed a five-year endorsement deal with the cola company Thums Up to replace Chiranjeevi as its brand ambassador in Andhra Pradesh.[119] He endorsed brands such as UniverCell Mobile Store,[120] Navratna Oil,[121] Amrutanjan,[122] Provogue,[123] ITC Vivel,[124] Jos Alukkas,[125] Idea Cellular,[126] Santoor Soap,[127] South India Shopping Mall,[128] Royal Stag,[129] Rainbow Hospitals,[130] TVS Motor Company,[131] Mahindra Tractors,[132] Paragon footwear, and[133] Tata Sky in South India.[134] He was signed as the brand ambassador of Intex Mobiles in August 2015 for one year.[135] In 2012, he replaced Akshay Kumar as the national brand ambassador for Thums Up across India.[136] He also promotes the real estate firm Ramakrishna Venuzia.[137] Babu commands a figure of 25–30 million per endorsement per annum, thus earning around 300 million per annum as a brand ambassador.[138] In 2016, he was signed as the brand ambassador of YuppTV[139] and AbhiBus.[140] In February 2018 he was signed as the brand ambassador for Protinex.[141] Some of the other brands he endorses, or had endorsed previously, include Chennai Silks,[142] Sai Surya Developers,[143] Close-Up,[144] Gold Winner,[145] Denver Deodorant,[146] Lloyd A/C,[147] and Flipkart.[148] Overall, he has endorsed 28 brands thus far.

Babu stood in 31st place on Forbes India's Celebrity 100 list for the year 2012, with annual earnings of 422.5 million.[149] He slipped to 54th place on the same list for the year 2013, with his annual earnings dropping to 289.6 million.[150] In the following year, he climbed to the 30th position with an annual earning figure of 510 million.[151] In 2015, he placed 36th, the highest ranking Telugu celebrity, with an income of 510 million.[152] He was placed 37th, 33rd and 54th consecutively in the years leading up to 2019 with an annual earning of 350 million.[153] Babu was once criticised for his limited and predictable wardrobe when attending events.[154] In 2019 his wax statue was unveiled in Madame Tussauds Singapore.[155]

Personal life

Family

During the shoot of B. Gopal's Vamsi at Australia, Babu began to date his co-star Namrata Shirodkar. After being in a relationship for four years, they decided to get married, and Manjula convinced Krishna in favour of their decision.[17] They were married on 10 February 2005 at the Marriott Hotel, Mumbai during the shooting of Athadu.[156] The couple welcomed their first child, a boy, on 31 August 2006 at the Global Hospital in Hyderabad.[157] The boy, named Gautham Krishna, was a premature baby and was in critical condition during his birth. His condition turned stable after the doctors treated him in time.[80] On 20 July 2012 Namrata gave birth to a girl whom they named Sitara.[158] Before her delivery, they preserved her stem cells using stem cell banking to ensure a better immunity level.[159]

Telugu actress and filmmaker Vijaya Nirmala is Babu's step-mother, and actor Naresh is his step-brother.[160] Babu's elder sister Padmavathi is married to Galla Jayadev, an industrialist and Member of the Indian Parliament who is currently aligned with the Telugu Desam Party.[161] Babu's younger sister Priyadarshini is married to Sudheer Babu, who later made his debut as an actor in Telugu cinema.[162]

Philanthropy

Babu gives 30% of his annual income to charities, and most of his philanthropic activities are unpublicised because he prefers them to be so.[163] He joined Farhan Akhtar's Men Against Rape and Discrimination (MARD) campaign in August 2013 and lent his voice to the Telugu version of a poem written by Javed Akhtar.[164] He was signed in 2013 as the goodwill ambassador of Heal-a-child Foundation, a non-profit organisation that offers financial support to the parents of terminally ill children to help with the cost of medical treatment.[165] In October 2014, he donated 2.5 million to a relief fund run by the chief minister of Andhra Pradesh for reconstruction of areas destroyed during Cyclone Hudhud. Krishna and Vijaya Nirmala later donated 2.5 million to the fund.[166]

Jayadev announced in February 2015 that Mahesh would adopt Krishna's native village Burripalem, a minor panchayat in Tenali, and would address basic needs of the community such as potable drinking water and better roads and drainage systems.[167] Mahesh also announced that he is working with Telangana's Rural Development minister K. T. Rama Rao to adopt another village in Mahbubnagar district.[168]

Controversy

In September 2004, Babu attended a rally organised by his fans at Warangal for the promotional activities of Arjun. He and his fans allegedly raided two video libraries and assaulted their owners who were circulating unauthorised CDs of the film. Cases under IPC section 448 (criminal trespass), section 427 (mischief) and section 366 (kidnap) were registered on him, who was the principal accused, and five others.[169] Later, a delegation from the Telugu film industry, including Chiranjeevi, Akkineni Nagarjuna, Ghattamaneni Krishna, Allu Aravind and Daggubati Suresh Babu, approached the then chief minister Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy to intervene in this case. Regarding the issue, Babu said that while cases were booked against him, not a single case had been booked against the person dealing in bootlegged CDs, which he found the "funniest" thing.[170] Actor and filmmaker Pawan Kalyan openly supported Babu throughout the episode.[171] Babu surrendered in the district court on 20 September 2004 and appeared before the court again on 22 April 2006. The final hearing was held on 7 July 2006, and Babu and the others were exonerated.[172]

Awards and nominations

Ceremony[a] Category Year Film Result Reference
International Indian Film Academy Awards Utsavam Best Actor – Telugu 2016 Srimanthudu Won [173]
Nandi Awards Best Male Debut 1999 Raja Kumarudu Won [22]
Special Jury Award 2002 Murari Won [22]
2003 Takkari Donga Won [22]
2005 Arjun Won [31]
Best Actor 2004 Nijam Won [30]
2006 Athadu Won [36]
2012 Dookudu Won [53]
2015 Srimanthudu Won [174]
Filmfare Awards South Best Actor – Telugu 2001 Murari Nominated [175]
2003 Okkadu Won [26]
2005 Athadu Nominated [176]
2006 Pokiri Won [41]
2011 Dookudu Won [54]
2012 Businessman Nominated [63]
2013 Seethamma Vakitlo Sirimalle Chettu Won [69]
2015 Srimanthudu Won [86]
2019 Bharat Ane Nenu Nominated [177]
South Indian International Movie Awards Best Actor – Telugu 2012 Dookudu Won [55]
2013 Businessman Nominated [64]
2014 Seethamma Vakitlo Sirimalle Chettu Won [70]
2015 1: Nenokkadine Nominated [78]
2016 Srimanthudu Won
2019 Bharat Ane Nenu Nominated [178]
CineMAA Awards Best Actor – Male 2003 Okkadu Won[b] [179]
2011 Dookudu Won [180]
Best Actor – Male (Jury) 2015 1: Nenokkadine Won [181]
Santosham Film Awards Best Actor 2007 Pokiri Won [182]
2013 Businessman Won [183]

Notes

  1. ^ Certain award groups do not simply award one winner. They recognize different recipients and have runners-up.
  2. ^ Tied with N. T. Rama Rao Jr. for Simhadri.[179]

References

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