Indian media reported that he was taken to hospital in Hyderabad on Monday with severe cardiac problems that needed resuscitation. He died in hospital on Tuesday morning.
In addition to his own career as actor, director and producer over a period of some five decades and 350 films, Krishna is known as the father of current star Mahesh Babu.
Born as Ghattamaneni Siva Rama Krishna Murthy in 1943, Krishna began work in the film industry in 1961 and had his first leading role in 1965’s “Thene Manasulu.”
He worked with major directors including Adurthi Subba Rao, V. Madhusudhan Rao, K. Viswanath, Bapu, Dasari Narayana Rao and K. Raghavendra Rao. Among his best-known roles was portrayal of Alluri Sitarama Raju, a freedom fighter in Andhra Pradesh. (This is the same role as was recently played by Ram Charan in current hit film “RRR”.)
He is also noted for pairing up with the same leading actress on scores of productions. He worked with Vijaya Nirmala on 48 films and with Jaya Prada on 47.
Among Krishna’s many awards was a Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award – South and a 2009 Padma Bhushan from the Indian government in recognition of a lifetime of contributions to the cinema industry.
Like many Indian film stars, Krishna also went into politics. He was elected to parliament in 1989 as a member of the Congress Party. He retired from politics in 2012.
Tributes have poured in from the political classes, the film industry and from fans. Among the first were Andhra Pradesh chief minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy and Telangana chief minister K Chandrashekar Rao.
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi joined the mourning. “Krishna Garu was a legendary superstar, who won hearts of people through his versatile acting and lively personality. His demise is a colossal loss to the world of cinema and entertainment. In this sad hour my thoughts are with @urstrulyMahesh and his entire family. Om Shanti,” Modi said on Twitter.
Legendary actor Rajinikanth said: “The demise of Krishna garu is a great loss to the Telugu film industry … working with him in 3 films are memories i will always cherish. My heartfelt condolences to his family …may his soul rest in peace.”
“This is heart breaking. Our superstar Krishna guru is no more. Legend and inspiration for generations.. We will all miss you sir,” wrote actor Nikhil Siddhartha on Twitter.