Manmohan Desai

Manmohan Desai (26 February 1937 – 1 March 1994) was an Indian film producer and director.

Manmohan Desai
Man Mohan Desai.jpg
Born(1937-02-26)26 February 1937[1]
Died1 March 1994(1994-03-01) (aged 57)
Alma materSt. Xavier's College
OccupationFilm director, producer
Years active1960–1993
Spouse(s)Jeevanprabha Gandhi[2]
ChildrenKetan Desai
  • Kikubhai Desai
  • Kalavati

Family backgroundEdit

Manmohan Desai was of Gujarati ancestry. His father, Kikubhai Desai,[4] was an Indian film producer and owner of Paramount Studios (later Filmalaya)[5] from 1931 to 1941. His productions, mainly stunt films, included Circus Queen, Golden Gang, and Sheikh Challi.[6] Manmohan Desai's elder brother, Subhash Desai, became a producer in the 1950s[7] and gave Manmohan his first break in the Hindi film Chhalia (1960). Subhash later went on to produce Bluff Master, Dharam Veer, and Desh Premee with Manmohan as the director.

His wife was Jeevanprabha Desai. She died in April 1979. He was engaged to actress Nanda from 1992 until the time of his death in 1994. He had one son Ketan Desai who is still involved in the film industry. Ketan is married to Kanchan Kapoor, daughter of Shammi Kapoor and Geeta Bali.

On 1 March 1994, as per news Manmohan Desai fell from the balcony in Girgaon as the rail he was leaning on collapsed and died.[8] Very little is known about his death except that he was suffering from chronic back pain. Rumours of him committing suicide have not been confirmed.[9]


Manmohan Desai was known for his family-centered, action-song-and-dance films which catered to the tastes of the Indian masses and through which he achieved great success. His movies defined a new genre called masala films. A common theme in his films were the lost and found plot where family members would be separated and reunited.

He had a string of hits with Amitabh Bachchan in the 70s and early 80s which helped cement Bachchan's status as a superstar of Indian cinema. He worked with Amitabh on Amar Akbar Anthony, Parvarish, Suhaag, Naseeb, Desh Premee, Coolie, Mard and Ganga Jamuna Saraswati; all but the last were box office successes. He was one of the directors who had a special working relationship with Amitabh Bachchan, the others being Yash Chopra, Prakash Mehra, Ramesh Sippy, and Hrishikesh Mukherjee. Of these, only Yash Chopra went on to make hits beyond the 1980s.

He often worked with the same actors in several different films:

  • Jeetendra in Dharam Veer (1977) after Bhai Ho To Aisa
  • Shatrughan Sinha in Naseeb after Bhai Ho To Aisa, Shararat and Aa Gale Lag Jaa (1973) and Rampur Ka Lakshman (1972)
  • Shashi Kapoor in Suhaag after Aa Gale Lag Jaa (1973)
  • Shammi Kapoor in Parvarish (1977) as a father figure after Bluffmaster (1963) and Budtameez (1966) and a cameo role in Desh Premee as Shamsher Singh
  • Randhir Kapoor in Chacha Bhatija (1977) after Rampur Ka Lakshman (1972).

Apart from Bachchan, Manmohan Desai worked with such leading male stars as Raj Kapoor in the 1960 film Chhalia, Shammi Kapoor in "Bluffmaster" (1963) and "Budtameez" (1966), Rajesh Khanna in Sachaa Jhutha (1970) and Roti (1974), Randhir Kapoor in Raampur Ka Lakshman (1972), Shashi Kapoor in Aa Gale Lag Jaa, Dharmendra in Dharam Veer (1977). 1977 was an exceptional year for him. All four of his films released that year were huge hits: Parvarish, Amar Akbar Anthony, Chacha Bhatija and Dharam Veer. The first two were with Amitabh, and the latter two were with Dharmendra.

Manmohan Desai worked with writers such as Salim–Javed, Prayag Raaj, K.K.Shukla, and Kader Khan, and lyricists such as Anand Bakshi, Sahir Ludhianvi, Qamar Jalalabadi, Gulshan Bawra, and Shailendra. Early in his career he worked with composers Rahul Dev Burman, Kalyanji Anandji, later with Laxmikant Pyarelal for many films. Laxmikant–Pyarelal and Manmohan Desai have worked for nine films, most of them produced and directed by Manmohan Desai, including Amar Akbar Anthony 1977, Dharam Veer 1977, Parvarish 1977, Chacha Bhatija 1977, Suhaag 1979, Naseeb 1981, Desh Premee 1982, and Coolie 1983. In later years Manmohan Desai worked with music composer Anu Malik.

Out of the 20 films that Desai directed in his career span of 29 years (1960–1989), as many as 13 films were stupendous hits. His success ratio was 65 percent in an industry where flops abound. He used an assortment of male singers in his films. In Chhaliya, Mukesh sang the songs of leading man, Raj Kapoor. He preferred Mahendra Kapoor for Biswajit in Kismat. In Roti and Aa Gale Lag Ja, Kishore Kumar's voice was used for the hero. He used Mohd Rafi's voice on Amitabh Bachchan in films like Suhaag and Naseeb. He also used Kishore for Amitabh in Amar Akbar Anthony. His biggest hits of Mohd Rafi song was Pardah Hai Pardah from Amar Akbar Anthony and John Jani Janardhan from Naseeb. Manmohan Desai once said that Mohd Rafi's voice is God's voice.

Towards the end of his career, Desai's previously successful stories and style began to lose favour with audiences. Critics accused him of self-parody. His last film as a director Ganga Jamuna Saraswati and the films he produced with his son Ketan Desai directing, Allah Rakha (1986), Toofan (1989) and Anmol (1993) failed at the box office.


Year Movie Name Cast Notes
1957 Janam Janam Ke Phere Nirupa Roy, Mahipal
1960 Chhalia Raj Kapoor, Nutan, Pran, Rehman, Shobhna Samarth
1963 Bluff Master Shammi Kapoor, Saira Banu, Pran, Lalita Pawar
1966 Budtameez Shammi Kapoor, Sadhana, Manorama
1968 Kismat Biswajeet, Babita, Helen, Kamal Mehra
1970 Sachaa Jhutha Rajesh Khanna, Mumtaz, Vinod Khanna
1972 Raampur Ka Lakshman Randhir Kapoor, Rekha, Shatrughan Sinha
1972 Bhai Ho To Aisa Jeetendra, Hema Malini, Shatrughan Sinha
1973 Aa Gale Lag Jaa Shashi Kapoor, Sharmila Tagore, Shatrughan Sinha, Om Prakash
1974 Roti Rajesh Khanna, Mumtaz, Om Prakash, Vijay Arora, Nirupa Roy
1977 Parvarish Amitabh Bachchan, Shammi Kapoor, Vinod Khanna, Neetu Singh, Shabana Azmi
Dharam Veer Dharmendra, Zeenat Aman, Jeetendra, Neetu Singh, Pran
Chacha Bhatija Dharmendra, Randhir Kapoor, Rehman, Hema Malini, Yogeeta Bali
Amar Akbar Anthony Amitabh Bachchan, Vinod Khanna, Rishi Kapoor, Parveen Babi, Neetu Singh, Shabana Azmi, Pran
1979 Suhaag Amitabh Bachchan, Shashi Kapoor, Rekha, Parveen Babi
1981 Naseeb Amitabh Bachchan, Shatrughan Sinha, Rishi Kapoor, Hema Malini, Reena Roy, Kim Yashpal
1982 Desh Premee Amitabh Bachchan, Shammi Kapoor, Sharmila Tagore, Hema Malini, Parveen Babi
1983 Coolie Amitabh Bachchan, Rishi Kapoor, Rati Agnihotri, Waheeda Rehman, Kader Khan
1985 Mard Amitabh Bachchan, Amrita Singh, Nirupa Roy, Dara Singh
1988 Ganga Jamuna Saraswati Amitabh Bachchan, Mithun Chakraborty, Meenakshi Sheshadri, Jaya Prada
1989 Toofan Amitabh Bachchan, Meenakshi Seshadri, Amrita Singh Producer
1993 Anmol Manisha Koirala, Rishi Kapoor, Johnny Lever Producer


  1. ^ Connie Haham (1 December 2005). Manmohan Desai's Enchantment of the Mind. Roli Books Private Limited. pp. 20–. ISBN 978-93-5194-049-4.
  2. ^ Singh, Kuldip. "Obituary: Manmohan Desai". The Independent. Retrieved 8 August 2015.
  3. ^ Raje, Niilesh A. "Anhonee Ko Honee Karde: A Tribute To Manmohan Desai". Learning & Creativity. Retrieved 8 August 2015.
  4. ^ Kikubhai Desai. IMDb
  5. ^ Tejaswini Ganti 2004, "Bollywood: A Guide to Popular Hindi Cinema", Routeledge Guidebooks, New York and London.
  6. ^ Connie Haham (2006) Enchantment of the Mind: Manmohan Desai's Films, Roli Books, New Delhi, p 182.
  7. ^ Subhash Desai. IMDb
  8. ^ Bawa, Jyoti Sharma. "With Nanda's death, I have lost a very good friend: Actor Mala Sinha". Hindustan Times. Archived from the original on 16 February 2015. Retrieved 8 August 2015.
  9. ^ Mishra, Rashmi. "Accident, Suicide or Murder? The mysterious deaths in Bollywood". Retrieved 8 August 2015.

External linksEdit

Manmohan Desai at IMDb