Ghattamaneni ‘Superstar’ Krishna, much loved by Telugu people, leaves behind an inspiring legacy

Krishna, who was admitted to a hospital in Hyderabad after a cardiac arrest, passed away early on Tuesday.

ByDeepthi Nandan

Published Nov 15, 2022 | 7:29 AMUpdatedNov 15, 2022 | 12:11 PM

Superstar Krishna Mahesh Babu 2.jpeg

Ghattamaneni Shiva Rama Krishna Murthy, known popularly as “Superstar Krishna” among the Telugu people, passed away early on Tuesday, 15 November, leaving scores of his fans and well-wishers grieving. The 79-year-old actor leaves behind a lasting legacy which will inspire generations to come.

With more than 350 movies to his credit, a successful stint in politics, a Padma Bhushan honour and, above all, the love and warmth of crores of Telugu people, Krishna’s was a life well lived.

Born on May 31, 1943, in Burripalem, a nondescript village in the Guntur district of Andhra Pradesh, Krishna rose to become one of the all-time top stars in the Telugu film industry.

And his legacy is being carried forward by his son and current top Telugu star Mahesh Babu.

A superhit debut

Krishna debuted as a lead actor with Thene Manasulu, directed by the celebrated Adurthi Subba Rao. After this social drama — with a cast of newcomers — became a runaway hit in 1965, Krishna never looked back.

In a career spanning about six decades, Krishna has come up with several landmark movies like Alluri Seetha Rama Raju, Goodachari 116, Pandanti Kapuram, Simhasanam, Paadi Pantalu, Eenadu, Agni Parvatam, Number One, Ekalavya, Mosagallaku Mosagadu, Mayadari Malligadu, Devudu Chesina Manushulu, Kirayi Kotigadu, Palnati Simham, and others.

While Superstar Krishna enjoyed the zenith of stardom in the 1970s and 1980s, in the 1990s and 2000s he played supporting roles. He made his mark even in these, with hit movies like Varasudu, Osey Ramulamma, and Encounter.


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Adventurous actor par excellence

What set Krishna apart from his co-stars, besides his acting abilities, was that he produced and directed movies as well. He directed 16 films in his career, with popular movies like Simhasanam, Koduku Diddina Kapuram, and Balachandrudu being his directorial.

Krishna was known for his adventurous streak and risk-taking in filmmaking — consistently striving to raise the bar. He is credited for coming up with the first Cinemascope movie in Telugu with Alluri Seetha Rama Raju. He also made the first 70 mm movie Simhasanam.

Ghattamaneni Krishna, who tasted stupendous success with action movies, is credited by film historians with introducing what is called the “Cowboy” and “James Bond” genres to Telugu movies.

His success as an action star apart, Krishna also excelled in family dramas and thought-provoking socially-relevant movies. As an actor and filmmaker, Krishna never shied away from taking risks, earning him the reputation of a “daring and dashing hero” among film industry folks and movie lovers.

Role in strengthening Telugu film industry

After turning director and producer, Krishna set up Padmalaya Studios in Hyderabad in 1983. A revered institution, Padmalaya Studios has a special place in the hearts of Telugu moviegoers. And with good reason.

At a time the Andhra Pradesh government was making efforts to attract Telugu filmmakers to Hyderabad, Padmalaya Studios played a key role in encouraging the shift from Chennai (then Madras). Besides creating opportunities for local talent, Padmalaya helped strengthen the filmmaking ecosystem in Hyderabad.

Superstar Krishna Mahesh Babu

Superstar Krishna with son Mahesh Babu. (Supplied)

Krishna, who was known for his supportive nature and philanthropic acts, was considered a producers’ actor. It is well known that if a movie bombed or a producer faced losses, Krishna used to freely give them dates again and even support them financially.

It is said that when Adurthi Subba Rao, who gave Krishna his break, was in financial trouble, the actor gave him dates to make Mayadari Malligadu — a movie which went on to become a super hit.

Krishna worked with almost all the top directors of his time, including Lakshmi Deepak, V Madhusudan Rao, V Ramachandra Rao, P Chandrashekhar Reddy, Raghavendra Rao, Dasari Narayana Rao, KSR Das, Kodanda Rami Reddy, Kodi Ramakrishna, and SV Krishna Reddy, to mention a few.

A tireless artiste

Superstar Krishna, who was also referred to as “Natashekara” in his heydays, was a tireless worker. He achieved the feat of acting and releasing 19 movies in the year 1969. There was a time when he continuously worked three shifts for months without a break.

Though he achieved superstardom, he was not chary about sharing screen space with stars like NTR, Shoban Babu, Krishnam Raju, Nagarjuna, Balakrishna, and others. He had a special chemistry with heroine Sridevi and they were considered a “hit pair”. He has romanced Jamuna, Vanisri, Jayaprada, Vijaya Nirmala, Radha, Soundarya and others in his movies.

Relationships and more

Superstar Krishna Ramesh Babu Indra Devi

The death of his elder son Ramesh Babu in January and Indira Devi in September this year had taken a toll on Krishna’s health. (Supplied)

Krishna shared a special bond with actor-director Vijaya Nirmala. Though their relationship started as co-stars, it soon turned personal and Krishna married her in 1969.

Krishna was already married to Indira Devi in 1961, but his second marriage did not create any disturbances in his domestic life.

While Vijaya Nirmala passed away in 2019, Indira Devi passed away recently, in September.

Krishna had two sons and three daughters. He was shaken by the untimely demise of his elder son Ramesh Babu in January this year.

His elder daughter Padmavati Ghattamaneni is married to Guntur MP and industrialist Jaydev Galla.

Another daughter Priyadarshi is married to actor Sudheer Babu, and the third Manjula Ghattamaneni dabbles in film production.

However, it is Mahesh Babu who has truly donned his father’s mantle, emerging as a hugely popular and successful star in the Telugu film industry. Taking over from his illustrious father, Mahesh Babu has emerged as the new Superstar of Tollywood today.

Stint in politics

superstar actor krishna

There was a time when Krishna continuously worked three shifts for months without a break. (Supplied)

Krishna, who was known for his courage in filmmaking, showed the same characteristic in politics. He joined the Congress party and was elected to the Lok Sabha in 1989 from the Eluru constituency.

He was known for valiantly taking on actor-turned-politician Nandamuri Taraka Rama Rao, or NTR, and was a staunch Congress supporter. Thanks to his mass image and good Samaritan deeds, Krishna tasted success even in politics.

He shared a good relationship with Congress Chief Ministers Marri Chenna Reddy, Kotla Vijayabhaskar Reddy and YS Rajashekhar Reddy.

With his acting and political career that spanned six decades, and his penchant for philanthropy, Superstar Krishna has made for himself an irreplaceable place in the hearts of Telugu people. His legacy will live on.