Hyderabad: With the passing away of Tollywood superstar Krishna, an era has come to an end in the Telugu film industry.
One of the last legends of Tollywood, Krishna breathed his last early Tuesday at a private hospital, where he was admitted late on Sunday night following cardiac arrest.
Popularly known as superstar Krishna, he dominated the industry with his ‘daring and dashing hero’ image for five decades. He is known not only for a variety of roles he played on screen but also for being a pioneer in use of the latest technologies for filmmaking.
Born as Ghattamaneni Siva Rama Krishna Murthy on May 31, 1942 at Burripalem in Guntur district of Andhra Pradesh, he featured in more than 350 films. He also directed and produced a few films.
He was the eldest of five children of Veeraraghaviah Chowdary and Nagaratna. While his parents wanted him to become an engineer, Krishna was interested in acting from his childhood. While doing graduation, he attended a programme at Eluru where thespian Akkineni Nageswara Rao was felicitated. His interest in cinema grew further and he decided to enter the field.
Since some well-known actors and filmmakers were from Tenali, Krishna went to Madras to meet them. On being advised to wait for some time, he returned home and joined Praja Natya Mandali. He acted in a few dramas to learn acting skills.
After playing small roles in a few films, Krishna formally made a debut in 1964 with ‘Thene Manasulu’ which proved to be a hit. With the next movie ‘Gudacchari 116’ (1966), a spy thriller, proving to be a superhit, he established himself as a big actor.
The handsome looking actor came to be known as ‘Andhra James Bond’. He later portrayed similar roles in six more movies.
Krishna and his movies became a trendsetter in Tollywood. ‘Sakshi’ (1967) directed by Bapu was the first Telugu film to be shot completely in outdoor locations. The film won critical acclaim at the Tashkent film festival. It was also Krishna’s first movie with Vijaya Nirmala, whom he married later.
After this success, Krishna never looked back. One of the busiest actors of his times, he was working in at least a dozen films every year. The year 1969 saw the release of his 15 movies. This trend continued throughout the 1970s. He worked in as many as 18 films in 1972. At one time, he was working in three shifts.
Successive hits made him a superstar in Tollywood. He was also called a real hero for being very handsome. He used to take special care of his radiant skin by not exposing it to direct sunlight.
With ‘Mosagallaku Mosagadu’ (1971), he introduced the cowboy trend in Tollywood.
His 1972 movie ‘Pandanti Kapuram’ bagged the national film award for best feature film in Telugu for that year.
The superstar founded Padmalaya Studio in 1970 and produced some highly successful and trendsetting movies.
Krishna is known for many landmark movies like ‘Alluri Seetharama Raju’ (1974), which was the first cinemascope movie in Tollywood, ‘Eenadu’ (1982), first Eastman colour film and ‘Simhasanam’ (1986), the first 70 mm film.
In ‘Alluri Seetharama Raju’, he donned the role of revolutionary tribal warrior Alluri and the film went on to become biggest grosser of its times.
Krishna was considered close to former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. He joined the Congress party in 1984 and was a critic of legendary actor N.T. Rama Rao, who had become chief minister of the undivided Andhra Pradesh in 1982 within nine months after entering politics. Krishna had made few films criticising NTR and his government.
Krishna was elected to Lok sabha from Eluru in 1989 but lost the election in 1991 from the same constituency. After Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination, Krishna distanced himself from politics
He received several awards including NTR national award in 2003. In 2009, he was honoured with the Padma Bhushan for his contributions to Indian cinema.
Krishna married Indira Devi in 1965. They had two sons including popular actor Mahesh Babu and three daughters. In 1969, he married actor Vijaya Nirmala. She died in 2019.
The superstar was reported to be depressed since the death of his wife Indira Devi in September. Early this year, he lost his elder son Ramesh Babu.