Nandamuri Harikrishna, a man who wore his heart on his sleeve
The actor-politician's close aides in the industry remember the times they spent with him
Actor-politician Nandamuri Harikrishna was involved in a fatal car crash on Wednesday morning. Born on September 2, 1956 at Nimmakuru, Harikrishna is the fourth son of veteran actor and former Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh Nandamuri Taraka Ramarao (NTR). Harikrishna was naturally drawn to films from a young age and he began his tryst as a child artiste playing the role of Bala Krishnudu (little Krishna) in Sri Krishnavataram (1967), and went on to act in three other films - Thalla? Pellama? (1970), Tatamma Kala (1974) and Ram Raheem (1974) in cameos. He also co-produced and played Arjuna in the NTR-starrer Daana Veera Soora Karna (1977).
After a brief political stint, he returned to films with a cameo in Mohan Babu’s Sri Ramulayya (1998), in which he played to the gallery as Comrade Sathyam. His portrayal as Krishnama Naidu in Lahiri Lahiri Lahirilo (2002) fetched him a Nandi award for Best Character Artiste. His quintessential angry police officer's role in Seethayya (2003) made quite an impression too. As an actor, he was drawn to characters that were firm and just. He was also not one to shy away from showing his ferocious side when playing feisty characters.
Veteran actor Kaikala Satyanarayana says Harikrishna was very fond of him. "NTR treated me like his brother and all his children called me, Babai garu (paternal uncle). I've known Harikrishna since he was a little boy, and I remember the days when I carried him on my shoulders. His Bala Krishnudu’s role in Sri Krishnavatharam, in which I played Duryodhana, is still fresh in my memories. Although some wrongly believed he was an angry, cold-hearted man, I can vouch for his kind heart. He always rose to the occasion with his honesty," says Satyanarayana.
The 83-year-old actor laments how road mishaps have affected the Nandamuri family. “His oldest son, Janaki Ram died in a road mishap too. Another time, Jr NTR thankfully escaped unhurt in a car accident. And now, Harikrishna has met with a fatal accident. I cannot believe that the man who once drove NTR’s famed Chaitanya Ratham (election campaign vehicle) has been killed in a car crash,” points out Satyanarayana.
Actor Suman fondly remembers the time he spent with Harikrishna on the sets of Lahiri Lahiri Lahirilo. “He (Harikrishna) was my well-wisher, and an affable and gentle person, who didn’t shirk from speaking his mind. He showed his diverse talent as hero, and character artiste in many a film. I have acted with him and his sons (Jr NTR and Kalyan Ram) in several films. He even wished me on my birthday on Monday (August 27) and we took a trip down memory lane,” says Suman. “He worked closely with his father, and had first-hand information on many films and political issues and shared those anecdotes with me. He was known for his discipline and punctuality at work. It was fundamentally his eagerness to help the people, especially the poor and the deprived, that made him step into politics,” recalls Suman.
Director YVS Chowdary who made three films with Harikrishna is in a state of despair. “He never harboured any malice. He always responded compassionately to suffering. I would say he is perfect in his showering of emotions, be it anger, laughter, sadness or affection. He shared great camaraderie with everyone on the sets and his death has created a void that just can't be filled,” says Chowdary.
Remembering Harikrishna as a brother, director N Shankar says, “I have no words to describe my pain. Harikrishna garu was an extremely affectionate person. I met him a few months ago at a function in his house and I still remember the words he said hugging me. He made a comeback to films with my directorial Sri Ramulayya and was instrumental in the success of that film. He always thought of me as his brother and fondly called me Thammudu. This is a searing personal loss.”