Eulogy – Nandamuri Hari Krishna, a celebrated life (with limitations)

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Nandamuri Harikrishna may not have had the spectacular career history of his legendary father or his younger brother Balakrishna but his last passage yesterday and the run-up to it the day before which threw Hyderabad city into an unprecedented traffic-quake shows that there are many who have resonated well with this son of NTR. It must have been the party workers of TDP who always found an easy shoulder in HK to cry on or the legions of hard-core fans of the late NTR who saw in HK an image of the thespian actor – with all the swagger, dialogue modulation and theatricality that is characteristic of the late NTR. It is natural for civilians like us to complain but the groundswell which threw the city’s traffic near the epicentre of his home out of gear is not a contracted one nor was it predictable, given the somewhat low-key life that Harikrishna led. A child actor debut as Lord Krishna and many happy-go-lucky roles later, a reluctant foray into films on terms that made him comfortable in his own skin (in his early forties) that had its mark. There were the roles that gave NTR fans a reprise of the Superstar himself in mature characters that suited his age and demeanour. And then those countless days spent driving around the dad or any other family members which must have given him many memories and recounts of value that would have made it into a book some day. Even Tollywood-anthem-singing channels missed the cue to interview HK exhaustively while he was alive on nostalgia and trivia about NTR. While it is unfortunate that Harikrishna lost his life not wearing a seat-belt in an activity of driving that always beat the stress out of him, there is a lot to learn from the man.

According to myths, before NTR plunged into politics he apportioned his wealth into as many portions as the number of his progeny between Hyderabad, Chennai and Vijayawada. Harikrishna inherited easily the corner of the city that was the prime estate of the day (not any more). Whereas Balakrishna inherited the property in Musheerabad now called the NBK Enclave which has become a sub-optimal and ill-maintained property which once housed the SubRegistrar’s Office in full glory. Harikrishna, it must be credited, has been a worthy heir who diligently worked for a fine upkeep and balance that not only protected the property of Ramakrishna Theatre Complex but also enhanced it. Whether it is a sweet pan, or a jowar Roti, or a quiet meal or a cup of filter coffee, you can savor them all at the RK Complex which is kept well. There must be some discipline and diligence to even protect and maintain an estate which is not so easy for all inheritors –and I have seen enough examples of an inheritance gone to dust in few years. Harikrishna deserved praise to have preserved his father’s legacy in estate management at Ramakrishna Complex. The last time I saw a film at RK was “Leader” – it had a good ambience and amazing sound quality. Be that as it may, the legacy of the man was also in nurturing gen-next with the likes of NTR Jr and Kalyan Ram. The latter never tires of making new films with debutante directors even if many of them miss a mark. Yes, HK would have lived on to the seventies and more had he reigned in the rush of the adrenalin in driving fast and unsecured. But his life in real, his approach to wealth, the short spurt in his second innings, and the way he worked as a foot soldier in TDP till the last (when he was wearing a yellow shirt) would have made his father in heaven so proud of him before both of them meet soon. There is still a lot of legacy left in him in the way his two sons have shaped their careers so far and who knows even his eldest grandson who played the title role in Daana Veera Soora Karna. Good bye and peace in heaven to a kind soul, a diligent worker, an actor who played to his strengths but aware of his limitations, an animal lover (a friend of mine who is his neighbour always saw a glint in HK’s eyes when he used to go out with his dog and an anxious expression when he used to walk alone without the dog) and a warm human being to everybody. No wonder, the last passage had people more than “those four people” including a sitting Chief Minister and an Ex-Supreme Court Judge.

-Sridhar Sattiraju

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