Thirty-six years ago, he entered the industry as a child artiste at the tender age of four with the film 'Needa'.
Sixteen years ago, he became the ‘Rajakumarudu’ of Tollywood and is today thriving in the hearts of the Telugu people as their ‘Srimanthudu’.
Born in the month of August, he turned a hero in August and is now all set to score the biggest hit of his career, again in the month of August.
Today, on the day of his birthday, a special article on the one and only, Mahesh Babu.
A hunger for variety, a responsibility towards his fans
He is the only hero in Tollywood among contemporaries who had already proved himself as a child artiste before debuting with ‘Rajakumarudu’. His debut was one of the most anticipated events in Tollywood and Mahesh did not disappoint his fans.
‘Rajakumarudu’ had all the ingredients of a mass-entertainer. His subsequent films ‘Yuvaraju’ and ‘Vamsi’ however failed at the box-office.
But that did not dampen his spirits and he came back to form with the highly-acclaimed ‘Murari’ which part from being a commercial success also fetched the film a lot of awards.
Buoyed by the success of ‘Murari’ he tried to give his fans some variety in the form of ‘Takkari Donga’, a cow-boy flick that disappointed at the ticket window.
His next film after that ‘Bobby’ also failed. Yet, he still chose to do a film with Gunasekhar who had a reputation for different kinds of films. The result was ‘Okkadu’ which became a sensational hit and marked the coming of age of Mahesh Babu as a genuine super star in the industry.
‘Okkadu’ also created a bonanza at the awards festivals. Mahesh then teamed up with director Teja for ‘Nijam’, a hard hitting revenge drama. This movie fetched him the ‘Nandi’ for best actor but the movie was a commercial failure.
By now, any other star would probably have stopped experimenting and stuck to formula-cinema, but not Mahesh. His next film ‘Nani’ produced by his sister Manjula was again a different kind of film. And again, Mahesh failed in his attempt.
‘Nani’ was followed by ‘Arjun’ which was the highest budgeted movie in his career at that point in time. ‘Arjun’ also disappointed.
His next film ‘Athadu’ in the direction of Trivikram Srinivas established Mahesh as the most popular Tollywood star overseas.
‘Athadu’ is also the film which has been telecast the most number of times on television. But the film despite being labeled a hit was a loss for the producers as the movie took a long time to complete and overshot its budget by a huge margin.
The hunger among his fans for a pucca commercial entertainer was finally satisfied by ‘Pokiri’ which broke all industry records and catapulted Mahesh into a completely different league.
‘Sainikudu’ and ‘Athidi’ which released later could not match up to the expectations of his fans and following these flop, Mahesh took some time off from work as he was afflicted with some personal problems.
He finally greeted his fans again with ‘Khaleja’ which was nearly three years in the making. ‘Khaleja’ did exceptionally well overseas but was a flop back home. In fact, ‘Khaleja’ is an unexplained phenomenon. Almost everyone liked the film but for some strange reason, it was termed a flop yet continues to garner incredible TRP’s even today on television.
Mahesh came back with a vengeance with ‘Dookudu’ which again broke industry records and followed it up with ‘Businessman’ a reasonable hit.
After 25 years in Tollywood, ‘Seethamma Vakitlo Sirimalle Chettu’ was the first genuine multistarrers featuring Mahesh and Venkatesh. The movie was a hit and managed to impress family audiences.
He got back to experiment mode again with ‘I-Nenokkadine’ which again did not give him success but did great business overseas and the movie was hailed as a ‘classic’ by critics.
In a bid to make up for his fans he did ‘Aagadu’ which turned out to be the biggest flop in his career.
As such expectations were sky high among Mahesh fans for a movie that would rock once again and ‘Srimanthudu’ has managed to do just that. It is a movie that combines social responsibility with commercial elements in an excellent manner.
Whether it is proving that commercial cinema can be award-winning movies or walking away with top honors even for flop movies, whether it is giving voice-over even for rival heroes or continuing to stay ‘Numero Uno’ of the advertising world, there has been one quality that has been constant in Mahesh throughout his sojourn. And that is: his humility.
“Failures and success mean the same to me. I only wish to delight my fans and continue to do good cinema,” said Mahesh recently. And that is our wish too and that of his millions of fans.
Happy Birthday, dear Mahesh!