Remembering superstar Krishna: Tollywood loses its trendsetter

One of the last legends of Tollywood, Krishna breathed his last early on Tuesday at a private hospital in Hyderabad

author_img IANS Published :  15th November 2022 05:08 PM   |   Published :   |  15th November 2022 05:08 PM
Superstar KrishnaSuperstar Krishna passed away on Tuesday

Superstar Krishna passed away on Tuesday

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 on Tuesday at a private hospital in Hyderabad, where he was admitted late on Sunday night following a cardiac arrest.

Popularly known as ‘superstar’ Krishna and the ‘James Bond of Tollywood,’ he dominated the industry with his ‘daring and dashing hero’ image for five decades. He is known not only for the variety of roles he played on screen but also for being a pioneer in the 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, the veteran actor featured in more than 350 films. He has 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 studying in college, 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 Chennai (the then 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 plays 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 super hit, he established himself as an actor in the industry.

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The handsome actor came to be known as ‘Andhra James Bond soon after and 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 outdoors. 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 time, he was working in at least a dozen films every year. The year 1969 saw the release of 15 of his 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 also meticulously took 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 that year.

The superstar also 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) which was the first Eastman colour film, and Simhasanam (1986), the first 70 mm film.

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In Alluri Seetharama Raju, he donned the role of revolutionary tribal warrior Alluri and the film went on to become the biggest grosser of its times.

Krishna was considered close to former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. He joined the Congress in 1984 and was a critic of legendary actor NT Rama Rao, who had become chief minister of the undivided Andhra Pradesh in 1982 within nine months of entering politics. Krishna had also made a few films criticising NTR and his government.

Krishna was elected to the 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 other daughters. In 1969, he married actor Vijaya Nirmala, who passed away 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.