Chennai, Mar 20: Well known Telugu and Tamil actor Shoban Babu, who reigned supreme in the Telugu film industry for decades along with the two stalwarts NTR and A Nageswara Rao, died of cardiac arrest at the Apollo Hospitals here today.
The 71-year-old handsome yesteryear hero was rushed to the hospital as he collapsed and started bleeding through his nose while practising yoga, his daily routine in the morning, according to his family sources. Doctors who attended on him at the hospital declared him dead. He is survived by his wife, one son and three daughters.
Born on January 14, 1937, as Uppu Shobana Chalapathy Rao at Kuntamukkula Mylavaram near Vijayawada, Sobhan Babu made his debut in the film 'Daivabalam' and came to be noticed in a mythological 'Bhakta Sabari'. But he shot to fame playing the lead role for the first time in another mythological 'Veerabhimanyu' in 1965. The film turned out to be a major box office hit and catapulted him to stardom.
Shoban Babu, who happened to take to acting while studying for a Law degree here, went on to evolve into a major star in Telugu cinema acting alongside the legends of Tollywood, late N T Rama Rao and A Nageswara Rao. But he continued to play second fiddle to the two major stars in many films in order to earn money for his family.
After the huge success of 'Manushulu Maarali', he established himself as a ''solo hero'' in many films till 1997. However, his capacity to essay meatier roles came to the fore in 'Bangaaru Panjaram' in 1970, made by the legendary Nagi Reddy of the famous Vauhini studios banner. The film bagged the national award for his realistic portrayal of a social problem.
He excelled in films like 'Taasildarugari Ammayi', 'Sarada' and 'Jeevana Jyothi', directed by the celebrated film maker K Viswanath and as Lord Ram in another celebrity Baapu's mythological hit 'Sri Ramakathaa.' After the success of 'Manushulu Maarali', Shoban Babu had many other box office hits like 'Soggadu', 'Babu', 'Iddaru Devathulu', 'Balipeetham', 'Gorintaku', 'Mundadgu', 'Jebudonga', 'Kalyana Mandapam', 'Maanavudu Danavudu', 'Chelleli Kaapuram', 'Jeevana Tharangalu', 'Sarpayagam', Aswhamedham, 'Kurukshetram', 'Malle Poovu', 'Devatha', 'Kambhoja Rajukatha', 'Sampoorna Ramayanam' and 'Kodenagu'.
The actor was honoured with several awards, including the Filmfare award in 1971, '74, '76 and '79, the Andhra Pradesh Government's Nandi Best Actor Award in 1969, 1971, 1972, 1973 and 1976, the Andhra Pradesh Cinegoers award in 1970, '71, '72, '73, '74, '75, '85 and '89 and the Madras Film Fans Award in 1971, '74, '75, '76, '78, '79, '80, '84 and '85 and the Central Government award for the best classical film hero for 'Bangaru Panjaram'.
Shoban Babu, however, quietly disappeared from the industry and from public life. He kept himself busy with a real estate business in Chennai, a city he loved most. He turned down several offers to move over to Hyderabad as in his own words, he was sentimetally attached to Chennai, which had given him a glorious career in the tinsel world.