I will become a minister, he said and became one. Remembering a friend.
Kurnool 1978. Journalist RV Seshadri’s house. Those present – politicians, me and a few other journalists, and Mohan.
“Mohan. Your friend has become CM. Why not try for MLC seat?”, a leader who himself became MLC later, asked rather tauntingly.
The young man ignored the leg-pulling. ‘Why should I beg for it. One day I will get elected right royally by the people and become a minister.’ Everybody laughed in a ridiculing manner.
However, it was Mohan who had the last laugh when five years later he was elected from the Yemmiganur Assembly constituency. Then he came to be known to everybody as B.V. Mohan Reddy. He went on to be minister in the NT Rama Rao and the Chandrababu Naidu cabinet.
Mohan Reddy hailed from Nagalapuram near Kurnool, where his address was Ajanta hotel near the bus stand. An astrologer by occupation, Mohan Reddy soon made a name for him in the film industry too where he fixed muhurthams for Telugu movies.
In the early 70s, he fixed muhurtham for a NTR movie that proved a big hit and a boost for the actor who was going through a lean patch. From then on, NTR never looked back delivering such hits as Adavi Ramudu, Dana Veera Sura Karna, Vetagadu, Yamagola, Justice Choudhary, Bobbili Puli, Sardar Paparayudu and so on. NTR and later Akkineni Nageswara Rao also enlisted Mohan Reddy’s services.
Meanwhile, top politicians like Dr. M. Channa Reddy, ministers and bureaucrats joined Mohan Reddy’s charmed circle of admirers. During one of Channa Reddy’s trips to Kurnool, Mohan Reddy was seen flitting in and out of the CM’s suite at the State Guest house, as if it were a revolving door. Some IAS and IPS officers were among the people waiting for an audience with the CM. Apparently some were even more anxious to catch the attention of Mohan Reddy than the CM. I was witness to an officer or two pleading ‘Mohan. Itu kooda choodu babu. Maa meeda daya leda?’ as the astrologer moved in and out of the suite.
DVS Karna release: Mohan Reddy suggested that the NTR movie be released on Sankranti day of 1977. NTR was hesitant because it clashed with the release of Kurukshetram, another prestigious project of actor Krishna. Mohan Reddy asked him not to worry but to go ahead with the Sankranti release. NTR completed the film in a hurry to meet the muhartham. It was undoubtedly a bigger hit.
I had joined The Hindu at Kurnool a week after its release. Mohan Reddy was immensely happy when I got a photograph of him with NTR, Nageswara Rao and Shivaji Ganesan on the sets of ‘Chanakya Chandragupta’ published in the popular film magazine Screen. I tried unsuccessfully to retrieve the photo from my archive. As Indian Express correspondent, I used to report for Screen too.
Nice man, Mohan Reddy passed away this day in 2012.