Manmohan Desai

Karishma Mishra
10 minutes
upper thumbnail

Family backgroundl

Manmohan Desai was of Gujarati ancestry. His father, Kikubhai Desai,[4] was an Indian film producer and owner of Paramount Studios (later Filmalaya)[5] from 1931 to 1941. His productions, mainly stunt films, included Circus QueenGolden Gang, and Sheikh Challi.[6] Manmohan Desai's elder brother, Subhash Desai, became a producer in the 1950s[7] and gave Manmohan his first break in the Hindi film Chhalia (1960). Subhash later went on to produce Bluff MasterDharam Veer, and Desh Premee with Manmohan as the director.

His wife was Jeevanprabha Desai. She died in April 1979. He was engaged to actress Nanda from 1992 until the time of his death in 1994. He had one son Ketan Desai who is still involved in the film industry. Ketan is married to Kanchan Kapoor, daughter of Shammi Kapoor and Geeta Bali.

On 1 March 1994, as per news Manmohan Desai fell from the balcony in Girgaon as the rail he was leaning on collapsed and died.[8] Very little is known about his death except that he was suffering from chronic back pain. Rumours of him committing suicide have not been confirmed.

upper thumbnail


Manmohan Desai was known for his family-centered, action-song-and-dance films which catered to the tastes of the Indian masses and through which he achieved great success. His movies defined a new genre called masala films. A common theme in his films were the lost and found plot where family members would be separated and reunited.

He had a string of hits with Amitabh Bachchan in the 70s and early 80s which helped cement Bachchan's status as a superstar of Indian cinema. He worked with Amitabh on Amar Akbar AnthonyParvarishSuhaagNaseebDesh PremeeCoolieMard and Ganga Jamuna Saraswati; all but the last were box office successes. He was one of the directors who had a special working relationship with Amitabh Bachchan, the others being Yash ChopraPrakash MehraRamesh Sippy, and Hrishikesh Mukherjee. Of these, only Yash Chopra went on to make hits beyond the 1980s.

He often worked with the same actors in several different films:

  • Jeetendra in Dharam Veer (1977) after Bhai Ho To Aisa
  • Shatrughan Sinha in Naseeb after Bhai Ho To AisaShararat and Aa Gale Lag Jaa (1973) and Rampur Ka Lakshman (1972)
  • Shashi Kapoor in Suhaag after Aa Gale Lag Jaa (1973)
  • Shammi Kapoor in Parvarish (1977) as a father figure after Bluffmaster (1963) and Budtameez (1966)
  • Randhir Kapoor in Chacha Bhatija (1977) after Rampur Ka Lakshman (1972).

Apart from Bachchan, Manmohan Desai worked with such leading male stars as Raj Kapoor in the 1960 film Chhalia, Shammi Kapoor in "Bluffmaster" (1963) and "Budtameez" (1966), Rajesh Khanna in Sachaa Jhutha (1970) and Roti (1974), Randhir Kapoor in Raampur Ka Lakshman (1972), Shashi Kapoor in Aa Gale Lag Jaa, Dharmendra in Dharam Veer (1977). 1977 was an exceptional year for him. All four of his films released that year were huge hits: ParvarishAmar Akbar AnthonyChacha Bhatija and Dharam Veer. The first two were with Amitabh, and the latter two were with Dharmendra.

Manmohan Desai worked with writers such as Salim-JavedPrayag RaajK.K.Shukla, and Kader Khan, and lyricists such as Anand BakshiSahir LudhianviQamar JalalabadiGulshan Bawra, and Shailendra. Early in his career he worked with composers Rahul Dev Burman, Kalyanji Anandji, later with Laxmikant Pyarelal for many films. Laxmikant-Pyarelal and Manmohan Desai have worked for nine films, most of them produced and directed by Manmohan Desai. Refer following list of Musical HITs of Manmohan Desai with Laxmikant-PyarelalRoti 1974, only as director. In 1977 Manmohan Desai formed MKD films and made many musical hits with Laxmikant-Pyarelal

Amar Akbar Anthony 1977 Dharm Veer 1977 Paravarish 1977 Chacha Bhatija 1977 Suhag 1979 Naseeb 1980 Desh Premi 1982 Coolie 1983

and later he worked with music composer Anu Malik.

Out of the 20 films that Desai directed in his career span of 29 years (1960–1989), as many as 13 films were stupendous hits. His success ratio was 65 percent in an industry where flops abound. He used an assortment of male singers in his films. In Chhaliya, Mukesh sang the songs of leading man, Raj Kapoor. He preferred Mahendra Kapoor for Biswajit in Kismat. In Roti and Aa Gale Lag Ja, Kishore Kumar's voice was used for the hero. He used Mohd Rafi's voice on Amitabh Bachchan in films like Suhaag and Naseeb. He also used Kishore for Amitabh in Amar Akbar Anthony. His biggest hits of Mohd Rafi song was Pardah Hai Pardah from Amar Akbar Anthony and John Jani Janardhan from Naseeb. Manmohan Desai once said that Mohd Rafi's voice is God's voice.

Towards the end of his career, Desai's previously successful stories and style began to lose favour with audiences. Critics accused him of self-parody. His last film as a director Ganga Jamuna Saraswati and the films he produced with his son Ketan Desai directing, Allah Rakha (1986), Toofan (1989) and Anmol (1993) failed at the box office.

Karishma Mishra
New Blog
New Gallery