Manmohan Desai Wiki, Age, Death, Wife, Children, Family, Biography & More

Manmohan Desai(1937- 1994) was a popular Indian film director and producer with one of the most successful careers in filmmaking during the 70s and 80s. Films like Aa Gale Lag Jaa (1973), Dharam Veer (1977), Amar Akbar Anthony (1977), Naseeb (1981), Coolie (1983), and Mard (1985) were directed and produced by him. He died on 1 March 1994 in Mumbai, Maharashtra, India.


Manmohan Desai was born on Friday, 26 February 1937 (age 57 years; at the time of death) in Bombay, Bombay Presidency, British India (now Mumbai, Maharashtra). His zodiac sign is Pisces. He was an alumnus of St. Xavier’s College in Mumbai but he left before completing his graduation for a career in the film industry.

Physical Appearance

Height (approx.): 5′ 5″

Weight (approx.): 50 kg

Hair Colour: Black

Eye Colour: Black

Manmohan Desai with actor Rishi Kapoor


Manmohan belongs to a Gujarati family.

Parents & Siblings

Manmohan was born to Kikubhai Desai and Kalavati Desai. His father was an Indian film producer who owned Paramount Studios, later known as Filmalaya (1931-1941). His productions mainly consisted of stunt or action-based films like Circus Queen, Golden Gang, and Sheikh Chilli.

Kikubhai Desai and Kalavati Desai

Manmohan had a sister and an older brother, Subhash, who became a producer in the 50s and gave him his debut break in the film Chhalia (1960). His brother later produced films like Bluff Master (1963), Dharam Veer (1977), and Desh Premee (1982) alongside Manmohan as the director.

Manmohan Desai’s brother Subhash Desai

Wife & Children

Manmohan Desai was married to Jeevanprabha Gandhi, who was the writer of films directed by Manmohan including films like Sachaa Jhutha (1970), Aa Gale Lag Jaa (1973), Roti (1974), Dharam Veer (1977), Amar Akbar Anthony (1977), and Coolie (1983). She also wrote scripts for films like Uthaman (1976) directed by Rajendra Prasad and Ram Robert Raheem (1980) directed by Vijaya Nirmala. Manmohan lost his wife in April 1979. They have a son and two daughters. Their son, Ketan Desai, is a screenwriter, film director, and producer just like his father. Ketan has directed films like Allah-Rakha (1986), Toofan (1989), and Amar Akbar Anthony (1977). Ketan is married to Kanchan, the daughter of actor Shammi Kapoor and actress Geeta Bali. Manmohan has two granddaughters, Pooja and Raj Rajeshwari.

Manmohan Desai with daughter-in-law Kanchan Kapoor and son Ketan Desai.

Other Relatives

His nephew, Danny Desai (Subash Desai’s son), was an assistant director and special effects technician. After quitting working in the film industry, he started working as a pilot.


A few years after his wife’s demise, Manmohan fell in love with actress Nanda in the late 80s. They got engaged, but two years after their engagement Desai passed away in his home in Mumbai. In an interview, Nanda’s brother Jayprakash recalled his sister’s love story with Manmohan. He said Manmohan’s son Ketan took actor Waheeda Rehman’s help to unite his father with Nanda. Jayprakash recollected,

 So, Waheedaji organised a small dinner. After dinner, they left didi and Manji alone. Manji then revealed his feelings to didi saying, ‘I want to marry you’. Didi said she’d first have to consult her family. On her return that night, I was the first one with whom she discussed the proposal. I said Manji was a respected filmmaker, a wonderful person and a charming personality and that she should go ahead. ‘I want to see you settled,’ I said. Gradually, the family was involved. After their approval, didi called up Waheedaji and said she was for it. The second meeting was held at our place. didi wanted a traditional wedding.” [1]Hindustan Times

Manmohan Desai with actress Nanda



Manmohan Desai has contributed vastly to Indian cinema. He had a long career of 29 years in which he produced 13 monumental hits. In his initial days in the film industry, he assisted and worked with Babubhai Mistry, a well-known film director. He began his journey as a director and scriptwriter with the 1957 film Janam Janam Ke Phere. He then directed and produced the film Chaalia, which was released in 1960.

Poster of the film Chhalia

He is popular for making family-oriented and Masala films. He shared a close bond with actor Amitabh Bachchan and directed him in many films.

Manmohan Desai with Actor Amitabh Bachchan

He also worked with leading writers like R. D. Burman, Laxmikant-Pyarelal, and Kalyanji-Anandji. Most of the songs in the films produced and directed by Desai were sung by Laxmikant-Pyarelal and Mohd. Rafi. Manmohan gave massive hits like the romantic comedy Bluffmaster (1963) and Kismat (1968); action films such as Sachaa Jhutha (1970) and Dharam Veer (1977); action comedies like Amar Akbar Anthony (1977), Naseeb (1981), Coolie (1983), and Mard (1985).

Poster of the film – Bluff Master

A still from the film Amar Akbar Anthony

Poster of the film – Coolie (1983)


On 1 March 1994, Manmohan Desai passed away in Girgaon, Mumbai. Any details related to the nature of Manmohan’s death are still mysterious to this day. He fell to his death from the balcony of his flat as the railing collapsed in Girgaon, Mumbai. It remains unclear if the incident was an accident or suicide. [2]Amarujala


  • Ram Sheshadri Iyengar, who is Emraan Hashmi’s great-grandfather, used to work as an accountant at Manmohan’s father’s office.
  • In 1963, Manmohan intended to produce a film titled ‘Chhoti Si Duniya’ featuring Raj Kapoor and Nutan. However, the film couldn’t come to fruition due to the financiers pulling out their backing, resulting in its cancellation.
  •  In 1983, Manmohan Desai had planned to direct a film titled “Construction Rani,” featuring Rati Agnihotri. The plan was to produce the film in five different languages; however, the project could not materialize.
  • Manmohan is also known as the “Miracle Man of Bollywood”. [3]Independent
  • Manmohan’s film Amar, Akbar, Anthony was one of the first commercial Indian films to be aired during prime time by BBC network.
  • Manmohan Desai loved cricket but couldn’t continue playing it due to his back injury.
  • He considered Billy Wilder as his inspiration for filmmaking.
  • Manmohan did not enjoy studying and regretted attending school.
  • Manmohan collaborated with actor Shammi Kapoor for a film after Bluff Master for which he was to be paid a sum of Rs 500 for 30 days schedule. When Manmohan did not like the incomplete film, he reshot the whole film without charging any additional money from the producers.
  • On 1 December 2005, Connie Haham along with Amitabh Bachchan published a book honouring Manmohan Desai titled- Manmohan Desai’s Enchantment of the Mind exploring his life, work and filmmaking.

    Manmohan Desai’s Enchantment of the Mind


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