BY SANGEETHA DEVI DUNDOO,R. RAVIKANTH REDDY
Krishna Ghattamaneni, fondly referred to as Superstar Krishna by legions of Telugu cinema viewers and hailed for his iconic portrayal of Alluri Seetharama Raju, breathed his last at 4:10 a.m. on Tuesday (Nov 15).
He was being treated at Continental Hospitals in Hyderabad, reportedly following a cardiac arrest. He was 79 and is survived by a son and actor Mahesh Babu, and daughters Padmavati, Manjula, and Priyadarshini. Krishna’s passing comes barely weeks after the demise of his first wife Indira Devi on September 28, 2022. His second wife Vijaya Nirmala passed away in 2019. His eldest son Ramesh Babu too is no more.
Condolences have been pouring in from film personalities across the country, political dignitaries, and millions of fans. Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao condoled the death while TPCC president, A. Revanth Reddy hailed him as a hero who brought dynamism into Telugu films introducing Hollywood kind portrayals.
Career spanning more than five decades
The veteran actor was born Ghattamaneni Siva Rama Krishna Murthy on May 31, 1943, in Burripalem in Guntur district in the erstwhile Madras Presidency and present-day Andhra Pradesh. His career which spanned more than five decades had him starring in more than 350 films across genres.
Nicknamed ‘Daring and Dashing Hero’, he was a pioneer in experiments and adopting emerging technologies. The first cinema-scope Telugu film was the award-winning Alluri Seetharama Raju while he also produced and directed the first 70mm film in Telugu, Simhasanam. He also introduced the style of cowboy movies in Telugu cinema, of which Mosagallaku Mosagadu has the most recall. He was the swashbuckling Bond-like hero in several spy action thrillers such as Gudachari 116, Agent Gopi and James Bond 777. His admirers still refer to him as the James Bond of Telugu films.
Krishna’s innings as the leading man began with the 1965 film Thene Manasulu. As much as Krishna is recalled for his stylish avatars in action films, he also lent credence to family dramas with his earnest portrayals in films such as Pandanti Kapuram and Meena. He was also a part of multi-starrer projects, sharing screen space with the established superstars of the era — Akkineni Nageswara Rao and N T Rama Rao — in projects such as Akka Chellalu and Devudu Chesina Manushulu. Among the leading women of the era, Krishna acted with Vijaya Nirmala and Jayaprada in more than 40 films each.
Krishna established Padmalaya Studios in 1971 and produced and distributed both Telugu and Hindi films. Krishna was conferred with Padma Bhushan in 2009. Actor Jitendra acted in most of his Telugu remakes in Hindi including the superhit Himmatwala that introduced late Sridevi to the Hindi audience.
The widely followed actor also had a stint in politics and was elected as a Parliament member in 1989 from the Eluru constituency on a Congress ticket. Influenced by the late Rajiv Gandhi and on his invitation, he joined the party. Later, he withdrew from politics and confined himself to films. He admitted that he had a fondness for Rajiv Gandhi as the reason for his political innings though he was never cut out for it.
Known as the producer’s hero, tales of Krishna doing films for free for producers who suffered losses through his films are well-known in the industry. Considered a man with no enemies despite being associated with the highly competitive industry for over 50 years, he is revered by producers, directors and co-actors apart from the millions of his followers spread across the world.
He is the last among the five legends who literally ruled Telugu cinema from the 1960s to the 80s with the others being N.T. Rama Rao, Akkineni Nageswara Rao, Shobhan Babu and Krishnam Raju. An era ends as a true legend leaves this world.