Krishnam Raju (1940-2022) was an Indian actor and politician. A prominent Telugu film actor in the seventies and eighties, Raju starred in various popular films like Amara Deepam (1977), Mana Voori Pandavulu (1978), and Bobbili Brahmanna (1984). Alongside his cinematic career, Krishnam Raju established a political career in 1991 with Congress, before joining Bharatiya Janata Party. He also had a brief stint with actor Chiranjeevi’s political party Praja Rajyam Party in 2009. He had a five-and-a-half decade-long career in Indian cinema during which he acted in 183 films. On 11 September 2022, Raju died of prolonged sickness due to severe pneumonia and post-COVID-19 complications at the Asian Institute of Gastroenterology Hospitals, Hyderabad.
Uppalapati Venkata Krishnam Raju was born on Saturday, 20 January 1940 (age 82 years; at the time of death) in Mogalturu, West Godavari, Andhra Pradesh. Belonging to a Kshatriya family, . Raju was treated like a prince from a royal family during his school days. As a student, he was a renowned inter-collegiate volleyball player and was also selected for national games in Kabaddi. After completing his schooling, he joined Badruka College Of Commerce & Arts, Hyderabad, where he pursued a Bachelor of Commerce. However, his Lok Sabha Bioprofile states that he is an undergraduate.
Height (approx.): 5’ 10”
Hair Colour: Black
Eye Colour: Black
Krishnam Raju with his daughter
Parents & Siblings
His father’s name is Uppalapati Veera Venkata Satyanarayana Raju (deceased). His younger brother , Uppalapati Surya Narayana Raju (Prabhas‘ father), was an Indian film producer who worked under the label Gopi Krishna Movies along with Krishnam Raju.
Krishnam Raju with his parents
From left to right, Prabhas, Krishnam Raju, and Uppalapati Surya Narayana Raju
Wife & Children
After the demise of his first wife, Seetha Devi, he got married to U. Shyamala Devi on 20 September 1996. Together, Krishnam Raju and Shyamala Devi have three daughters Prisidi, Prakriti. and Pradeepti.
Krishnam Raju posing with the portrait of his first wife, Seeta Devi
Krishnam Raju with his wife Shyamala Devi and daughters
Indian actors Prabhas of Baahubali fame and Siddharth Rajkumar are Krishnam Raju’s nephew.
From left to right, Siddharth Rajkumar, Krishnam Raju, and Prabhas
Krishnam Raju belongs to a Kshatriya family.
He resides at 114, M.L.A. Colony, Banjara Hills, Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh.
Before venturing into the entertainment industry, Krishnam Raju worked as a journalist in a daily newspaper called ‘Andhra Ratna’, which was run by his relatives. On the other hand, he was also a passionater photographer and ran a photo studio named ‘Royal Studio’ in Abids. Apart from still photography, he also shot documentaries and ad films. Later, he also founded the production house Gopi Krishna Movies along with his brother. He also earned an award for his photography at the state level.
In 1966, Krishnam Raju made his Tollywood debut with the Telugu film Chilaka Gorinka, alongside Krishna Kumari. The film went on to win Nandi Award for Best Feature Film – Silver the same year. However, it did not produce the expected results at the box office.
Chilaka Gorinka (1966)
In 1968, he came into the spotlight after playing the role of Anand, an antagonist, in the Telugu film Nenante Nene (1968). In 1976, he appeared in the mythological film Bhakta Kannappa (1976) in which he played the protagonist Arjuna/Kannappa. Produced under Gopi Krishna Movies, the film earned the National Film Award for Best Audiography in the same year.
Krishnam Raju as Arjuna (Kannappa) in Bhakta Kannappa (1976)
Other mythological Telugu films under his belt include Sri Krishnavataram (1967), Kurukshetram (1977), and Sri Vinayaka Vijayamu (1979). In 1978, his Telugu films ‘Manavoori Pandavulu’ and ‘Katakatala Rudraiah’ were released within a span of 10 days. Interestingly, both films went on to become silver jubilee films. In the film Manavoori Pandavulu, he played the central character Krishna that brings together a group of five youngsters to oppose the cruel deeds of their village sarpanch, Rambhoopal. The film won the Filmfare Best Film Award (Telugu) in the same year.
Manavoori Pandavulu (1978)
He garnered popularity with the Telugu drama film Amara Deepam (1977) in which he played the role of Hari/Shri Krishna. Immensely appreciated, the film led Krishnam Raju to win Filmfare Best Actor Award (Telugu) and Nandi Award for Best Actor in the same year.
His titular role in 1986 Telugu biographical war film Tandra Paparayudu earned the Filmfare Best Actor Award for that year. He garnered immense appreciation for his dual roles as Brahmanna and Ravi in the 1984 Telugu film Bobbili Brahmanna, which earned him Filmfare Best Actor Award (Telugu) and Nandi Award for Best Actor. During his five and a half decade long career, he appeared in various hit Telugu films like Trishulam (1982), Rangoon Rowdy (1979), Katakatala Rudrayya (1978), and Palnati Paurusham (1994).
Katakatala Rudrayya (1978)
He forayed into Kannada cinema with the films Hai Bangalore (1997) and Simhada Mari (1997).
1991 General Elections
In 1991, he contested the Lok Sabha elections from the Narasapuram Lok Sabha constituency on a ticket from the INC. He lost the seat to the TDP candidate Bhupathiraju Vijayakumar Raju, who won by a margin of 58,549 votes. The defeat led him to leave INC and join BJP.
1998 General Elections
In 1998, he contested and won the Kakinada Lok Sabha seat on a ticket from the BJP defeating the TDP candidate Gopala Krishna Thota by a margin of 67,799 votes. From 1998 to 1999, he served as a Member of Committee on Commerce and a Member of Consultative Committee on Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.
1999 General Elections
In 1999, Krishnam Raju, on a ticket from the BJP, contested and won the Narasapuram Lok Sabha defeating the INC candidate Kanumuri Bapiraju by 165,948 votes. Thereafter, he was appointed as Whip in B.J.P. Parliamentary Party, Lok Sabha. From 1999 to 2000, he served as a Member of Committee on Finance and Member of Committee on Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme. In 2000, he was appointed as a Member of Consultative Committee on Ministry of Commerce and Industry. On 30 September 2000, he became Union Minister of State in the Ministry of External Affairs; he served the position till 21 July 2001. In 2000, he even moved a motion in Lok Sabha for the introduction of the Prohibition of Cow Slaughter Bill. From 22 July 2001 to 30 June 2002, he held the position of Union Minister of State in the Ministry of Defence. After serving as Union Minister of State, Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution from 1 July 2002 to 8 January 2003, Raju was appointed as Union Minister of State in the Ministry of Rural Development on 29 January 2003.
2009 General Elections
In 2009, Raju left BJP and joined Indian actor Chiranjeevi’s political outfit Praja Rajyam Party (PRP). In the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, he contested and lost the Rajahmundry Lok Sabha seat. The seat was won by INC candidate Aruna Kumar Vundavalli by a margin of 2,147 votes. After the PRP’s disastrous performance in the simultaneous polls to the Andhra Pradesh state assembly and the Lok Sabha, Raju quit the party in July 2009.
Krishnam Raju posing with PRP chief Chiranjeevi after joining the Praja Rajyam in Hyderabad in 2009
In 2014, he rejoined BJP in the presence of its President Rajnath Singh. Thereafter, he tried to contest the 2014 Lok Sabha Elections from the BJP, but he was not given the ticket. After that he became inactive in politics.
Awards, Honours, Achievements
Filmfare Awards South
- Best Actor – Telugu – Amaradeepam (1977)
- Best Actor – Telugu – Bobbili Brahmanna (1984)
- Best Actor – Telugu – Tandra Paparayudu (1986)
- Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award (2006)
- Best Actor (1977) for the film Amara Deepam
- Best Actor (1984) for the film Bobbili Brahmanna
- Best Character Actor (1994) for the film Jailor Gaari Abbayi
TSR TV9 National Awards
- Lifetime Achievement Award (2012)
- Legend Actor of Silver Screen (2015)
- 5 Decades Star Award (2016)
- Raghupathi Venkaiah Naidu Award (2014)
- Lifetime Achievement Award at Zee Telugu Awards (2015)
- Lifetime Achievement Award at Gulf Andhra Musical Awards (GAMA) (2015)
- Deposits in Banks, Financial Institutions and Non-Banking Financial Companies: Rs 7,28,560
- Bonds, Debentures and Shares in companies: Rs 62,40,511
- Motor Vehicles: Rs 25,10,000
- Agricultural Land: Rs 65,37,500
- Non Agricultural Land: Rs 1,24,79,110
- Buildings: Rs 5,33,33,200
Note: The given estimates of movable and immovable assets are according to the year 2009.
His net worth as of 2009 in Rs 6,48,31,733.
On 11 September 2022, Raju died of cardiac arrest at 3.16 am following a month-long hospitalization after being diagosed with severe pneumonia and post-COVID-19 complications.
- His rebellious acting style earned him the name ‘Rebel Star’ of Tollywood
- Raju is a non-vegetarian. In an interview, he revealed that used to hunt down various animals and birds like green pigeons and mountain sheep and lamps and eat them. He also revealed that later he stopped hunting after it was banned.
- In his lesiure time, Raju likes to read, study rural folk, perform religious rituals.
- A veteran in Telugu cinema, he served as the President of the Telugu Artists Association for 18 years. As a way of giving back to the industry, he established open-air theatres in Nellore, Ellore, and Vijayawada in Andhra Pradesh.
- He actively participated in the activities of Hindu nationalist group Sangh Pariwar.
- For many years prior to his death, he had been suffering from several diseases like diabetes, coronary heart disease, post-cardiac stenting with chronic heart rhythm disorder and heart dysfunction. In 2021, he underwentleg surgery and amputation for peripheral vascular disease.