In the early years of his film career, he was starred in films like Saakshi which won critical acclaim at the Tashkent film festival in 1968. In 1972, He was starred in Pandanti Kapuram, which garnered the National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Telugu for that year. He played roles across different genres includes mythological, drama, social, cowboy, western classic, folklore, action and historical.
He is credited with producing many technological firsts in Telugu film Industry like the first Eastman color film Eenadu (1982), the first Cinemascope film (Alluri Seetharama Raju), first 70mm film (Simhasanam), first DTS film (Telugu Veera Levara) (1988) and introducing cowboy and James Bond styles to the Telugu screen.
He has directed 17 feature films and produced many films under Padmalaya Film Studio, a production house owned by him. Krishna collaborated with several ace directors of the time like Adurthi Subba Rao, V. Madhusudhana Rao, K. Viswanath, Bapu, Dasari Narayana Rao and K. Raghavendra Rao. He also has the record of pairing up with same actress for more than 48 films with Vijayanirmala and 47 films with Jayaprada. In December 2012, at the age of 69, Krishna announced his retirement from movies and politics.
Krishna with his two sons Mahesh Babu and Ramesh Babu in the 1988 film Mugguru Kodukulu
Krishna was born on May 31, 1943 in Burripalem village, Tenali mandal, Guntur District, Andhra Pradesh to Ghattamaneni Ragavaiah Chowdary and Ghattamaneni nagarathnamma , he has two younger brothers (Adiseshagiri rao and Hanumantha rao) and two younger sisters ( Lakshmi tulasi and Mangamma). Both his brothers and sister's husband (Uppalapati suryanarayana babu) produced many movies.
Film career from 1962–1965
His career began with minor roles in films such as Padandi Mundhuku, Kulagothralu and Paruvu Prathishta. He was then cast in Tene Manasulu as one of the male leads. Despite commercial pressure being placed on Adurthi Subba Rao, the film director, to drop Krishna, the film was released as originally planned. It was a success and Adurthi repeated the cast for his next film, Kannemanasulu.
Breakthrough:1966 to 1975
Krishna was also selected to play the lead role in Sunderlal Nehta and Doondee's hit movie Gudachaari 116 which brought the detective genre of films to the forefront in Tollywood. Though action films were his forte, Krishna also acted in films such as Marapurani Katha, Atthagaaru Kotthakodalu, and Undamma Bottu Pedathaa. He also worked with more established actors, such as N. T. Rama Rao and Akkineni Nageswara Rao, in films such as Sthree Janma, Niluvu Dopidi, Vichithra Kutumbam, Akka Chellellu and Manchi Kutumbam during this period.
At this time, Krishna established his own production house, Padmalaya Films and produced several high budget films, such as Mosagallaku Mosagadu, Pandanti Kapuram, Devudu Chesina Manushulu and Alluri Seetharama Raju and Agnipariksha. With his friend Vijaya Nirmala, Krishna also set up another production house called Vijaya Krishna movies, and produced some critically acclaimed films, including Meena and Devadasu.
Mosagallaki Mosagadu which Brought the Cowboy genre of films in 1971 and Alluri Seetharamaraju which released in 1974 were sensational in many ways.
in 1975, Except for Cheekati Velugulu, none of his films of this time made any impact at the box-office as people were reluctant to watch him in softer roles after his portrayal of Alluri Seethaa Rama Raju in the eponymous film.
Krishna as Alluri Seetharama Raju in the 1974 award winning film, Alluri Sita Rama Raju
Krishna bounced back with his lavishly made home production Paadi Pantalu in 1976. The film, which dealt with several contemporary agrarian issues, was a runaway hit at the box-office. His performance in Raja Rajeswari Coffee Vilas Club - his second film under the Vijaya banner - was also successful. A third film produced by Krishna in that year was the moderately successful Rama Rajyamloo Raktha Paasam.
Aside from his production work, and his acting in those self-produced films, he also acted in Kolleti Kapuram, Bhalee Dongalu and Devudee Gelichaadu during 1976. While Kolleti Kapuram was critically acclaimed for its thought-provoking dialogues and for capturing the serenity of Kolleru Lake in West Godavari district, Bhalee Dongalu - a re-make of the Hindi film Chor Machaayee Shoor - hit the bull's eye. Devudee Gelichaadu did not.
It was in 1976 that Krishna also announced that he was to produce Kurukshethram. This surprised N. T. Rama Rao, who also wanted to make a movie, called Daana Veera Soora Karna, based on the epic. The relationship between the two men was strained further when Krishna expressed his inability to drop his project and both started producing their films at frenetic pace. Both the films were successful. Krishna's good run at the box-office continued with Saavaasagallu and the actor further penetrated into the urban mass segment with the super-hit film Dongalaku Donga.
Krishna's career reached greater heights between the years 1978 and 1986. During this period, Krishna acted in several hit films like Anna Dammula Sawaal, Kumara Raja and Agent Gopi and other commercially successful films like Indradanassu and Allari Bulloodu. Six of his films fared very well in 1979, While Viyyalavaari Kayyaalu, Mandeegundelu, Hema-Heemeelu and Kottha Alludu, Burripalem Bulloodu were another commercially successful films in Krishna's repertoire. Krishna and Sridevi became a hit-pair in 1980 and the two acted together in Gharana Donga, Maama Allulla Sawaal, Chuttaalunnaaru Jagrattha, and Ram Robert Rahim.
Krishna also scored big against all his competitors when his Ooriki Monagaadu became the biggest hit among all films released during Sankranthi in 1981. 1982 was another eventful year in his life and he started it with the super-hit film Bangaaru Bhoomi, which was an improvisation of his Paadipantalu. Towards the end of the year, Krishna became the fastest to complete 200 films in a lead role. He also became a studio owner and produced Eeenaadu as it's maiden venture. A string of successful films like Mundhadugu, Kiraayi Kotigaadu, Adavi Simhaalu, Sakthi and Prajaarajyam catapulted him to the top position in 1983. Krishna's reign at the box-office continued in 1984 with films like Iddharu Dongalu, Bangaaru Kaapuram, Mukyamanthri and the lavishly made Kanchukaagada.
Krishna's career was at its pinnacle in 1985. He acted in swash buckling hits like Agniparvatham, Palnati Simham, Vajrayudham in this year. Krishna's fantastic portrayal of the larger than life characters created by the writer duo Paruchuri Brothers helped these films have spectacular runs at the box-office. He also acted in other hit films like Suryachandra,Pacchani Kapuram and Mahasangramam with his peer Sobhan Babu. Krishna started 1986 on a low key as audience turned down both his early releases Krishnagaaradi and Brahmasthram. He then produced his maiden directorial venture Simhasanam.
Khaidhi Rudrayya was another smash musical hit in his career and the film created several records at the box-office. The Superstar continued his slugfest against his political beliefs by satirizing some of the policies of Telugu Desam Party in his home production Naa Pilupee Prabhanjanam. Disgruntled supporters and leaders of this regional Party protested against screening of this film in several places. But their ruckuses, ironically, generated more publicity for it and helped the film succeed. Though Krishna starred in the record breaking Muddayi, and in other hits like Dongodocchaadu and Thandri Kodukula Challenge.
His elder son Ramesh Babu debuted as a full-fledged actor with Samraat on October 2. 1988 was another mediocre year in his professional life because only four Kaliyuga Karnudu, Aswaddhama, Rowdy No 1 and Mugguru Kodukulu of his ten releases had average runs. The next year, however, he has acted in successful films like Koduku Diddina Kapuram, Saahasamee Naa Oopiri, Gudachaari 117 and Goondaarajyam.
The years 1990–1992 can be termed as the darkest period in his life because nothing went right for him during this period. None of his films, barring Nagaasthram, fared well at the box-office and the actor took his longest break from work after Raktha Tharpanam, his last directorial venture in Telugu, tanked at the marquee. Ramesh's failure to capitalize on his blockbuster Bazaar Rowdy would have presumably upset him further during those unsettling times.
In 1993, he came back strongly with the unexpected super success of Pacchani Samsaaram. But it was Vaaraasudu, his second release in the year, which made him the cynosure of the film fraternity again. With the film Number 1, and Amma Dongaa! (1995) was another thumping success.
Krishna also directed the Bollywood film, Ishq Hai Tumse produced by Padmalaya Tele films, starring Dino Morea and Bipasa Basu in lead roles which is the remake of the Telugu film "Sampangi" in the year 2004.
Padma Bhushan - 2009
Nandi Award for Best Actor - Alluri Sita Rama Raju - 1974
NTR National Award
Won NTR National Award for the year 2003.
Filmfare Awards South
Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award – South in 1997.