Ghattamaneni Mahesh Babu was born to Telugu film Superstar Sri Ghattamaneni Sivaramakrishna Murthy, fondly known to one and all as Hero Krishna, and Smt. Indira Devion 9th August, 1975. Born after brother Ramesh Babu (actor turned producer who established Sri Krishna Productions banner) and two sisters Padmavati (on whose name Padmalaya banner was established) and Manjula (actress, producer who established Indira Productions banner), he became the apple of everyone‘s eye in the family. He also has a third sister, the baby of the family, Priyadarshini. All siblings have the rare honor of having acted in films as child artistes.
Mahesh’s childhood was spent mostly in Madras (Chennai) under the ever loving care of his favorite paternal grandmother Smt. Durgamma and the rest of his family, while his father was busy establishing a name for himself in the Telugu film industry as the most hardworking actor filming in 3 shifts a day. So as not to miss out on their paternal bonding, Krishna made sure all the children spent sufficient time with him on location and on his sets, especially during holidays. The acting bug, thus started early in Mahesh‘s childhood. The film sets were a second playground and he did not hesitate to face the camera when asked to do a small role in his brother Ramesh Babu‘s debut film, Needa, under Dr. Dasari Narayana Rao‘s direction in 1979, at the tender age of 4. Mahesh studied at St. Bede‘s School in Chennai, where his school mates of the same generation were Surya Siva Kumar (Tamil film actor) and Vishnuvardhan (Tamil film director) while continuing to attend his dad’s filming during holidays.
On one such occasion, in 1983, at the age of 8, director Kodi Ramakrishna requested him to do a role in the film Poratam since they were having difficulty casting for the role of Krishna’s sibling. This was his first full length feature film and can be considered his debut film as a child artist. Producer / Director Dhoondy, one of the early backers of Krishna in his struggling days, watched a preview of the movie and was stunned to find out he was Krishna’s own son and remarked that there was a spark in him and he would become an excellent artist. True to that prognostication, Mahesh went on to win the hearts of many Telugu film lovers as a child artist through varied roles. InSankharavam (1987) he faced the cameras with his father directing him for the first time. Veteran director A. Kodanda Rami Reddy directed him and his brother Ramesh forBazaar Rowdy (1988), where he overshadowed his own brother and won accolades for jointly carrying the film on his shoulders. Mugguru Kodukulu (1988) saw him again team up with his brother and father, the father directing them all this time. This film was his paternal grandmother’s dream project, which she nurtured over the years as a vehicle for her 3 sons to act; however, Krishna’s siblings did not show any inclination to act so the project had to be taken up with her grandsons instead of her sons. Krishna, who had earlier given strict instructions to the technicians that Mahesh is not allowed to do any stunts himself, was surprised at the dexterity and skill with which Mahesh effortlessly handled such scenes. Mahesh and the technicians confessed that Mahesh had always done his own stunts even for earlier films despite Krishna’s orders. Mahesh never believed in doing something at the risk of someone else’s life and argued that he would rather put himself in the position of risk than someone else’s child. Ramesh also convinced his dad that his brother spent spare time rehearsing for the stunts including in his own bedroom so that he could execute perfectly without great risk to life and limb – such was his dedication even at that young age. Gudachari 117 (1989) reunited Mahesh with his first film director Kodi Ramakrishna in a James Bond type of flick for which his dad, the lead in the movie, was famous. Koduku Diddina Kapuram (1989), directed by Krishna again, had Mahesh in a dual role in a film based on The Parent Trap. Mahesh overshadowed the rest of cast, leading senior actor Mohan Babu to comment “ Ee budathadu manalni mingesthunnaadu,” Balachandrudu and Anna Tammudu(1990) saw the teenaged Mahesh Babu completing his first innings on celluloid after which he concentrated on his studies and went out of the public eye while letting nature take its course through the awkward adolescent years.
Loyola College, Chennai and a B.Com degree beckoned with familiar faces such as his old pals from school Surya and Vishnuvardhan. Vijay, another leading Tamil star’s son, was a peer, as was S. J. Suryah who would later become a successful actor and director himself. The off-celluloid years enabled Mahesh to indulge in his favorite sports of cricket and billiards. Several producers and directors were eager to cast him as quickly as possible and reintroduce him as a full fledged hero but Krishna always wanted to re-introduce Mahesh on Padmalaya banner when the time was ripe. Mahesh was still tender looking and hadn’t yet outgrown his boyishness and adolescence. Given the changing conditions in the Telugu film industry, with Krishna’s star status on the wane due to changing audience tastes and production costs getting high, Krishna finally decided to let leading producer Ashwini Dutt introduce Mahesh on the Vyjayanthi banner. For director, he chose one of his best friends in the Telugu film industry, the man Mahesh fondly calls “Mavayya” K. Raghavendra Rao, though the both had not done a film together in 14 years since Vajrayudham in 1985. Thus, in 1999, Mahesh was re-introduced as a full fledged hero with Rajakumarudu (The Prince) and since then he has been fondly called Prince by his fans and the tag stuck with even the media which refers to him as “Prince” Mahesh Babu. This film was a debonair start for “Prince” Mahesh’s career, with Bollywood actress Preity Zinta as his first female co-star, earning him the Nandi award for best male debutant. Superstar Krishna also appeared in a special role as his father and the movie hit box office gold, earning the highest collections ever for a debutant hero. His next release Yuvaraju followed in the year 2000. Directed by YVS Choudary, and co-starring Simran and Sakshi Sivanand as his female leads, the movie generated a bit of controversy since the young Mahesh acted as the father of a young son in only his second movie. Never one to let anything faze him, Mahesh brushed off criticism over his choice of role and the film did well at the box office completing 100 days in 19 centers all over AP.
His third movie Vamsi under the direction of B.Gopal had a role similar to the college kid role in Yuvaraju and Mahesh suggested it be changed so as not to repeat himself in subsequent films. With Reema Sen as heroine, the movie was shot for a few days and early rushes showed a mispairing and no on screen chemistry between Reema and Mahesh. Krishna brought production to a halt in order to search for a new heroine and after several attempts that did not work, a chance meeting with Namrata Shirodkar, who was in Hyderabad to complete some scenes for a long delayed Chiranjeevi starrer Anji, led Krishna to cast Namrata as the leading lady in the film. Call it destiny or fortuitousness, this momentous decision set in motion a series of events spread over several years that culminated in Mahesh marrying his third film costar, with the approval of his family, on February 10, 2005, in Mumbai. While the movie was a disaster at the box office, it had its share of interesting moments. The screenplay was provided by Satyanand, who trained Mahesh into honing his acting skills. Devisri Prasad debuted as a lyric writer for the song Vecha Vechaga Vundi, and also sang it under Mani Sharma’s music direction. The climax action sequences were canned in 46 days by Vijayan who wanted to get the quality as close to the Hollywood movies that inspired them. Though the director B. Gopal declared he was the reason behind the failure of the film, Mahesh brushed it off saying it was the team’s collective failure and not just one person’s. In 2001, his successful movie Murari, produced by hard core Superstar Krishna fan Nandigam Ramalingeswara Rao and directed by Krishna Vamsi, who was reeling under a dry spell at the box office, was released and earned him plaudits from all sections of audience and from critics. He bagged a Special Jury Nandi award for his splendid performance in the film. After the preview of the film, he got his ‘said-to-be-best’ appreciation from his father Superstar Krishna, who stated “Mahesh’s performance is stunning and it left me awestruck”. For most Mahesh fans, this is the movie that really endeared them to him, given his ease in moving from serious to light to emotional expressions in sometimes a single scene with an ease that eludes most veteran actors. Takkari Donga, produced and directed by Jayant Paranji was released in 2002, where Mahesh essayed the role of a cowboy, harking back to a legacy that established Superstar Krishna as the first ever desi cowboy in honor of his home production Mosagallaku Mosagadu. The movie was meant to be a popcorn flick aimed at the MTV and younger generation with a short attention span. With excellent photography, songs, acting, stunts, it entertained audiences and retained the impression that, after his father, Mahesh was the only one suited for such a role in Telugu films. His death defying stunts, which as usual he insisted on performing himself, especially the sequences under a moving train, thrilled audiences like never before. His untiring effort led to another Special Jury Nandi award.
He had another release Bobby in 2002, produced by his first director K. Raghavendra Rao and directed by debutant Shoban. This movie was a disaster at the box office.Mahesh’s next most memorable film was released in 2003. Okkadu, directed by Gunasekhar, again reeling from a stretch of bad luck at the box office, and produced by M.S.Raju under the prestigous Sumanth Art Productions banner remains a landmark film in terms of conciseness of screenplay. It was probably for the first time on Telugu screen that a hard core villain was shown as having tender feelings for a girl, the heroine, purely bereft of any ulterior motive such as wealth or power to be gained from her, so much so that he was willing to sacrifice anything for the girl. The movie went on to become the biggest blockbuster of the year. He won his first Filmfare award, for his performance as the boy next door in the film. The vintage scene of Mahesh at Kondareddy Buruju in Kurnool clenching his fist and taking on Prakash Raj head on will remain forever etched in the memory of Mahesh’s fans for the intensity in his eyes and his tough demeanor. This was after all the scene in the film that marked Mahesh’s growth as a serious action hero after the criticism that in Takkari Donga, for all his effort, he still remained a chocolate faced cowboy. His rough and tough demeanor in Okkadu unveiled a new dimension to Mahesh; such was its impact that producers clamored to remake it with him in other languages. Not one to rest on already won laurels, Mahesh diligently pushed back on himself starring in remakes and the film was later remade in other languages with others.
On the heels of such a big blockbuster, his next film in 2003 with Teja, a director who had not tasted failure till then and was turning into a brand himself, created high expectations. Nijam became a victim of a routine revenge story line and Mahesh’s newly minted star status did not help audiences receive his innocent chocolate boy next door characterization. Despite the result, Mahesh‘s spellbinding performance as naive ‘Sitaram’ received huge applauses all over, which again acquired him the prestigious Nandi Award as best actor. While Okkadu showed a new dimension to his image, Nijam unveiled a capacity to emote beyond anyone’s expectations, especially in the scenes between Mahesh and Brahmaji in the police station and the mortuary.
He then worked in the direction of his college mate S.J Surya in Nani, produced by his sister Manjula, the story of an 8-year old boy transforming overnight into a 28- year old charming young man. The 2004 released movie, inspired by Big, did not do well at the box office due to a confused screen play and again miscasting Mahesh in a soft chocolate boy role that audiences could no longer accept after Okkadu. For hard core fans, though, Mahesh’s ease of morphing into a child like persona with all the innocence required is an ultimate treat in acting ability. S J Surya, who essayed the role in Tamil, remarked that he could not get close to even 10% of Mahesh’s acting in the Tamil version. The film will, however, be remembered for the best lyrics in the 2000s on motherhood “Pedave Palikina Maatallone Teeyani Maate Amma,” written by Chandra Bose. Mahesh again collaborated with Guna Sekhar for his next movie Arjun which was produced by his brother Ramesh Babu. This movie, released in 2004, turned in a decent performance at the box office. He received a Special Jury Nandi award for his emotional performance in role of loving brother who attempts to rescue his twin sister from the clutches of her evil in-laws. This film will remain etched in peoples’ minds for the Madurai Meenakshi temple set that was recreated as close to the original as possible and Veturi Sundararama Murthy’s lyrics on the history behind Madhura Meenakshi and the bonds between Tamilians and Telugus. 2005 saw the first release of Mahesh after his marriage with Namrata. Trivikram Srinivas’ second directorial venture, Athadu, was completely different from his prior works as writer and director and a stylishly made film with high technical values on the famous Jayabheri banner of actor, producer Murali Mohan. Mahesh once again captivated the audience in the role of an assassin Nanda Gopal/ Parthu, achieved critical acclaim and earned himself the Nandi award for Best actor. With Trivikram’s brand of punchy retorts in dialogues, heart warming family scenes especially the interplay between Parthu and his maradalu Poori and the moonlight scene in Poori‘s room, fascinating action episodes and fabulous songs, it remains a mystery as to why the movie did not end up being another blockbuster. Most audiences have repeatedly viewed this movie post release on DVD and on TV giving it greater appreciation than during its big screen release.
2006 saw the transformation of Mahesh from star to Superstar. Mahesh again worked with a director trying to find his bearings at the box office after a string of failures.Pokiri, produced jointly by his sister Manjula and Puri Jagannadh, and directed by Puri Jagannadh, became the biggest blockbuster in both their careers, earning for Mahesh the unsolicited title of Superstar spontaneously and unanimously from audiences and critics alike. Re-writing 75 years of Telugu Cinema Industry box office records, Pokiri drew huge crowds everywhere in AP , other states and overseas, and expanded the box office potential for Telugu cinema worldwide. Children equally embraced the movie despite its ‘A‘ rated Censor certification. Perhaps for the first time in Telugu film history, parents themselves refused to comply with the certification and argued with exhibitors to let their children in to see the movie. Mahesh’s mesmerizing performances as street smart ‘Pandugaadu’ with a North Andhra dialect and no-nonsense undercover cop ‘Krishna Manohar’ created waves at the box office thus springing up ‘Pokiri Mania’ everywhere. He received accolades from titans like Amitabh Bachchan , Ram Gopal Varma, Rajinikanth, Rajkumar Santoshi and other luminaries from the Indian film industry. This film was later remade in other languages but none of those versions created the mania that Pokiri did. Mahesh earned his second Filmfare award for Pokiri. He again collaborated with Director Guna sekhar in 2006, for the third time for the filmSainikudu which was released a few months after ‘Pokiri’. This didn’t reach the obvious high expectations developed after delivering a blockbuster like Pokiri. He portrayed the role of a responsible student, who subsequently works for achieving corruption-free politics, thus elucidating and emphasizing the need for involvement of youth and educated in current politics. For his next venture, Mahesh embraced corporate film making in TFI, by collaborating with UTV, with young director Surender Reddy for Athidiwhich made him the first corporate hero in Telugu Film Industry. Released in 2007, with plenty of shades of Pokiri but without a cohesiveness in narration, the movie did not do well at the box office, though it still managed to draw highest openings in his career. The failure of this movie to maintain its stamina at the box office left Mahesh in a quandary, trying to understand what audiences were really expecting from him.
On the family front, on 31 August, 2006, Namrata gave birth to a baby boy, giving Mahesh a wonderful gift. They named the boy Gautam. After Athidi Mahesh devoted more time to family matters with a new toddler to spend time with, supporting and helping Namrata cope with her father’s illness and then his death, followed by Namrata’s mother’s bout with cancer and her passing away in 2008. He supported Namrata’s first venture into TV production with a Marathi dance based show where Namrata and her sister Shilpa judged the dancing talent of contestants. He has also been involved in charity work, especially with cancer stricken children and other social causes that he doesn’t prefer publicizing. Recently he has become an idol for people who are trying to give up smoking ever since he publicly revealed how he quit smoking. Mahesh also lent his voice for the film Jalsa, directed by one of his friends and favorite directors Trivikram Srinivas, who directed him in Athadu, thus welcoming a new trend in Telugu Cinema. As a fallout of this, several other top stars have lent voiceovers for other stars’ films. Mahesh also signed on to do a movie with Trivikram Srinivas as director in 2009.
The Royal Prince of Telugu Cinema has endorsed several corporate brands during the time away from shooting and is currently the brand ambassador for ThumsUp, Navratan Oil, Univercell Mobile Network, Amrutanjan and Provogue . As part of his duties as brand ambassador he has been getting in touch with his fans from time to time and also started a Twitter account to get more close to his fans and hear their opinions. He is the first South Indian star to have more than 900,000 followers on Twitter. Primary shooting for his current under-production film Mahesh Khaleja is nearing completion. It is expected to release in October 2010. Mahesh has listened to advice from his Superstar father and entreaties from his fans and has decided to work on projects that complete faster. As part of this new approach, he will soon start primary filming on Sreenu Vytla directed Dhookudu for 14 reels Entertainment, where he essays the role of a police officer and is pairing up with newcomer Samantha Prabhu. This film is expected to release in the first half of 2011.
Mahesh inherited and carried his father’s legacy in film Industry by acquiring huge fan following with less number of movies and bagging 10 prestigious awards including 3 Filmfares within 10 years. He is known for his tranquil and serene nature, always believing in the work he does , as he stated in many of his interviews that ’Our work should speak for us’. He has excellent relations with all the directors he has worked with, no wonder they all have great things to say about him. He does, however, maintain his privacy and generally tends to stay away from film functions, controversies, media events where he does not have a direct interest or role in the event. He has often been critical of the media for not doing due diligence in their reportage and has said he does not understand how and why the current medium functions the way it does.
In his spare time, Mahesh prefers to spend it with family and close friends. Namrata has often stated that Mahesh is the most caring, giving, wonderful husband one could ever hope for, never dwelling on negativity when crisis strikes but always looking for solutions. Manjula and Mahesh are perhaps the closest among the siblings and Raakhi celebrations between them are a fabulous occasion for getting together and reiterating familial bonds, as are other festivities like Vinayaka Chaviti and Deepavali which they celebrate with vigor within the family. Mahesh considers actor Sumanth his closest friend among his peers in the acting profession, having encouraged him during his lean phase and attended his film muhurat for moral support. Mahesh has also been quick to support other actors in times of need such as Prakash Raj during his troubles with the Producers’ Association.
Name: Ghattamaneni Mahesh babu
Fondly Known as: Prince, Superstar
Nick Name: Nani
Date of Birth:9th Aug’ 1975
Father: ”Superstar” Ghattamaneni Krishna
Mother: Smt. Indira Devi
Brother: Ramesh Babu
Sisters: Padmavathi, Manjula, Priyadarshini
Spouse: Namrata Shirodkar Ghattamaneni
Children: Gautam Ghattamaneni, Sitara Ghattamaneni
First on-screen Appearance: Needa
Debut Movie: Rajakumarudu
Favorite Actor: Superstar Krishna
Favorite Movie: Alluri Seetarama Raju
Favorite Actress: Sridevi
Favorite Actress to pair with his dad: Sridevi
Favorite Sport: Cricket and Billiards
Favorite Cricketer: Sachin Tendulkar
Favorite Foreign Location: New Zealand