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.
An Unbreakable Bond
However, there is someone he relies on a great deal, who serves as his anchor through life’s ups and downs. His wife, Namrata Shirodkar Ghattamaneni, who stands by him with unwavering pride and a strong sense of protectiveness.
His face softens with tenderness when he speaks of his wife, an actress he first crossed paths with on the set of their 2000 movie Vamsi, where they shared the lead roles. “Our marriage is very solid. Like I said, I was raised with strong values. My parents instilled in us the belief that family, career and hard work are all important. Unfortunately, I lost both my parents last year ...” Mahesh pauses to gather his thoughts. He never brings work home, only magazine collaborations or endorsements, which Namrata handles.
In private, he’s a different man. “While people may think I’m an introvert, I like to think that I’m humorous in my personal space. My friends get to see that different side of me,” he says. As a close-knit family, Mahesh and Namrata relish travelling together with their son Gautam, 17, and daughter Sitara, 11. “Recently, I had some free time due to delayed shooting schedules, so I had the opportunity to go on holidays and spend quality time with my wife and kids. Simply hanging out with my children brings me immense joy.
Going for walks and enjoying a leisurely meal at a restaurant as a family is something I can’t do in India without attracting a crowd. However, at home, nobody sees Mahesh the superstar. My kids just see me as their father, and I give Namrata credit for that.”
From Tollywood To Bollywood
Mahesh’s face lights up with joy when he talks about his children, and he confesses he’s a doting dad who spoils them rotten. “My kids are happy with my success. They love my fame and the attention it brings. My daughter, Sitara, aspires to be an actress, and I wholeheartedly support her in that. She’s an excellent example of how one can maneuver social media successfully. She’s flamboyant and shares what she wants. I learn by watching her, the way she owns that space,” he says.
Navigating the world of social media can be a minefield for any celebrity, let alone a superstar like Mahesh. However, he has found his balance in this realm. “Initially, I was very apprehensive, but now I realise that it is a platform to express oneself … In all my years in the spotlight, I’ve received a lot of love. Along with that, there’s been some negativity. So what? You don’t need to take it seriously!” he declares.
It’s time to get down to the photo shoot as the actor has to head out shortly. One last question: why hasn’t he ventured into Bollywood yet? In a 2021 interview with HELLO!, he had jokingly quipped, “Bollywood can’t afford me.” However, today, his response is more pragmatic. “I believe one can’t intentionally plan a film to cross all boundaries and become a pan-India project. However, my upcoming project with S.S. Rajamouli is a dream come true, something I’ve been eagerly waiting for,” he says, animatedly.
Now, Mahesh is the epitome of focus, meticulous in his attention to detail, especially when it comes to his hair and perfecting his look. A true perfectionist in every sense, he generously offers the photographer numerous options for each shot. While he effortlessly strikes a pose, one can’t help but admire the unwavering dedication of this ever-evolving superstar.
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.