Remembering Shoban Babu, The Debonoir of Yesteryears

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By Rama Mohan | March 21, 2014 7:32 AM EST

A Tollywood producer asked Shoban Babu in early 2000s to act as father to a number one young hero of nowadays. Shoban, the yesteryear debonoir actor, reportedly demanded one crore rupees as remuneration, which was very high at that time, as even the hero in the film was not offered that much amount.

Reuters
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa has also acted with Sobhan Babu in films like 'Doctor Babu'.

The veteran actor, who was leading a peaceful and happy retirement life by then, demanded such a high amount as he does not want to act in films anymore, especially side characters. Like Jayalalithaa (now Tamil Nadu Chief Minister), Shoban Babu also never donned insignificant roles and retired from the films at the hight of his career at 58 to spend the rest of his life with his family members, especially grandchildren.

Shoban Babu's son Karuna Seshu said, "We would sleep next to him, my children slept with him even on his last day..they study in a college. He would say it was a bliss spending time with the grandchildren. We had to be home by 8 and he gave us so much love that we could never go wrong. Even if we wanted to do something wrong we would desist thinking that would hurt him. It was controlling with love and not the stick," quoted Cinegoer

Karuna Seshu is into construction industry and never entered films as per his father's wish.

It is said that he did not want to play charactors other than hero and accordingly he never palyed such side charactors. He died on 20 March 2008 in Chennai due to heart attack. A statue has been erected in Chennai in the memory of the actor.

Ravikondala Rao, a veteran actor and cinema columnist, who is older than Shoban, recently remembered his association with the illustrious late actor. Ravikondalu praised Shoban's generosity and philanthropic nature. It is said that Sobhan Babu had done many secret philanthropic activities.

Shoban acted in many multi-starrer films like "Mundadugu" with Krishna (father of Mahesh Babu) and Krishnam Raju, two other veteran hero actors of Tollywood. After NT Rama Rama Rao and Akkineni Nageswara Rao, Krishna and Shoban were the highest paid hero actors in their haydays. While Krishna became a mass hero, Shoban was named for his classic roles and earned more of female fan following than any Tollywood actor.

He never allowed his fans to fete him or arrange programmes for him. Instead, the actor used to advise them, "don't waste your time, follow your dreams and achieve them."

Shoban Babu was born as Uppu Shobanachalapati Rao on January 14 in 1937 in Chinna Nandigama village of Krishna district in Andhra Pradesh. His parents were Uppu Rama Thulasamma and, Uppu Suryanarayana Rao. His wife is Shanta Kumari and they got married on 15 May 1958. Besides Karuna Seshu, they have three daughters-Mrudula, Prashanti and Nivedita.

While studying in high school in Mylavaram, he developed interest on acting. During the college days in Guntur's Andhra-Christian College, he used to give stage performances. Then he went to Chennai to study law, but he was inspired by NTR's roles in cinemas and that only drove him to films. While studying law, he used to roam around cinema studios in Chennai for chances to act in films. Ultimately he discontinued the law stuy to settle in film career. His first film was Bhakta Sabari. Another film, "Manushulu Maarali" ran for 25 weeks, which was a rocord in those days.

Veteran actresses like KR Vijaya, J Jayalalithaa, Lakshmi, Jayaprada, Jayasudha, Vijayashanti have acted as pairs with Shoban Babu.

He was honoured by many awards including the State Nandi awards and his fans honoured him with the title, "Natabhooshana" (meaning: ornament to acting profession). He acted in more than 230 films.

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(Photo: Reuters / )
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa has also acted with Sobhan Babu in films like 'Doctor Babu'.
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