Within the quiet splendour of a 15,000 sq ft home, ensconced in Hyderabad’s prestigious Jubilee Hills area, lives a family that seizes every precious moment together. When home, you may discover them frolicking in their newly acquired indoor pool or nestled in the cosy embrace of their home theatre. For the multitude of devoted fans enraptured by the charismatic Ghattamaneni Mahesh Babu, affectionately known as Mahesh Babu, this tableau may strike a chord of familiarity. After all, the family’s Instagram posts do capture them at home. And yet, it’s only glimpses into the life of the Telugu superstar that are allowed, as he’s a very private (and self-confessed shy!) man. However, he generously welcomed HELLO! for an exclusive photoshoot at his residence, a significant event considering the previous occurrence was back in 2021.
“I am really excited about my first cover shoot with HELLO! We’ve experimented with a new look for it,” says the soft-spoken actor, whose most recent release, Sarkaru Vaari Paata, ranked as the second highest-grossing Telugu film of 2022.
A stickler for punctuality, Mahesh is already getting his hair and make-up done at his in-house make-up room. The star, widely celebrated as one of the most good-looking actors in the Indian film industry, requires very little sprucing up. Nonetheless, he firmly believes in maintaining and enhancing his image, acknowledging the connection it has in attracting audiences back to the cinemas. “While content is obviously king, a lot of other factors have come into play, like the packaging of the movie. People want to go to a cinema hall to get a larger-than-life experience. A top star must keep reinventing himself. It could be something as simple as getting a new haircut, getting in shape or even trying a new look. I pay attention to the small details and give it my best,” says the actor.
Taking Success And Setbacks In Stride
Currently, Mahesh is enjoying a successful streak in his career, marked by a series of hit films, such as Bharat Ane Nenu (2018), Maharshi (2019), Sarileru Neekevvaru (2020) and Sarkaru Vaari Paata (2022).When you have the hopes of millions falling over your shoulders, it is normal to feel overwhelmed by the situation. Mahesh is unflappable though. This does not stem from cockiness but just the wisdom that comes with years of experience. “Success makes you even more responsible and hard-working. While I don’t feel any pressure, I’ve become more careful with my choice of films, as the audience expects more from me now,” he confesses.
While Mahesh has been fortunate to achieve success in recent years, he is no stranger to setbacks. Every prominent actor worldwide encounters failure at some juncture. What sets apart a true star is their ability to glean valuable lessons from those moments and progress in their career.
Mahesh has had the privilege of learning from the best: his father, Ghattamaneni Siva Rama Krishna Murthy, a Telugu cinema superstar who dominated the screens from the early 1960s to the late 1980s. “When you’re a big actor, you need to accept that pressure. I learnt this, and more, from my father. He taught me the importance of discipline and humility. He instilled in us a strong value system, teaching us that success comes with its ups and downs. When you rise, there will inevitably come a moment when you fall, and you will have to carry that burden and ride the waves. It all comes down to how you handle the challenge,” Mahesh says, his voice trailing off as he reminisces about his beloved father.
There were high expectations for A.R. Murugadoss’ Spyder, but it didn’t perform as expected. It was a disappointment for both Mahesh and the director, who were experimenting with the format of a multilingual film (it was filmed simultaneously in Telugu and Tamil). The superstar maintains a clear-eyed perspective as he looks back on his professional setbacks. “When a film doesn’t do well, you’re left with a sinking feeling. There are a lot of expectations, and many people put in a great deal of effort into making a movie. However, I take full responsibility because I’m the face of it all. I believe that if I hadn’t green- lighted the project, it wouldn’t have happened. It’s better that way, and it allows me to focus on my next film,” he explains.
Cover credits: Photos: Jatin Kampani; Creative Direction: Amber Tikari; Make-Up: Pattabhi Ramarao; Hair: Aalim Hakim; Styling: Priyanka and Kazim, The Vainglorious
This is an excerpt from an interview from HELLO! India’s October 2023 issue. To read the full interview, check out the latest issue right here.