In Indian Cinema or World Cinema, several actors go through highs and lows. But few stay recognisedly under-recognised. While their presence enhances the scene, film and light up the screen, still they never reach extreme highs or serious lows. Their consistence in performance and suitability to a character just motors along without too much celebration. Chandra Mohan used to be one such actors of Telugu Cinema.
Rammohan, Ramakrishna, Sreedhar have found similar fame upon their arrival like Chandra Mohan. While the other three tried to become next star heroes, CM occupied Kantha Rao space in TFI. NTR and ANR have become to huge and highly busy by mid-1950’s. As the Telugu Film started finding huge popularity, more actors needed to be fit in films other than them. Kantha Rao and Harnath looked like ideal replacement for the big two. Kantha Rao has become highly successful too.
But he used to act in important and interesting roles in these big star films, if necessity araises. Rammohan, Ramakrishna, Sreedhar and Chandra Mohan debuted as actors around same time in TFI. Even Krishna, Sobhan Babu and Krishnam Raju also entered films at the same time. While the later three became next big stars after NTR and ANR, Rammohan, Ramakrishna and Sreedhar could not reach such heights. Silently, Chandra Mohan continued to exist as a hero and also as a character artist.
He did not feel shy to act in second hero or important roles in his junior Rajendra Prasad or Suman films. Later, he even acted in sync with Bramhanandam, Kota Srinivasa Rao. Still, he did not reach to the heights of popularity that they enjoyed. After becoming full time supporting actor, he earned fame for his portrayals in Aame, 7/G Brindhavan Colony and many more. Yet, he remained a necessary actor for such roles and severely underrated in box office pull.
Heroines believed acting alongside him would give them fame and luck to become stars. This did not end up just being a belief rather a truth. Jayasudha, Jayapradha, Sridevi acted first with him and later became huge stars. Jayasudha and Chandra Mohan have become the most paired on-screen couple, too. As a character actor in senior roles, Sudha has paired with him the most. He performed in almost 953 films, yet people most consider him as a good actor but not a star.
May be that aspect has helped him in maintaining his personal life to himself. He faced many speculations regarding his businesses and money management. He never tried to give out all his personal details, still. From Rangula Ratnam till his last movie, he tried to stay free from link-ups and unwanted fame. People recognised him but never celebrated. May be now, we might not be able to find good actors who can effortlessly fit into any character.
May be we will find it hard to point out an actor and say he looks like my neighbourhood person. May be we won’t find a loving, caring, frustrated and cunning father, husband on screen who can change between these emotions easily. From 1966 to 2023, till his heart and body expressed ultimate satisfaction, he kept such men on Telugu screen alive. He could easily make us love him or hate him, according to the character needs. He could easily convert a comic scene into tragedy.
The character that made Kamal Haasan kind of an actor popular, Chandra Mohan effortlessly portrayed it in Padaharella Vayasulo. He could be the big brother, funny second hero, innocent brother and hero in many medium budget comedy films. Equally, effortlessly, he could portray serious roles and tragic scenes. It would be hard to find such a talent and such an actor. Well, let’s celebrate him at least now and keep his memories close to our hearts.