The year 2022 saw the Telugu film industry losing some of its biggest stars. The deaths of superstar Krishna and ‘rebel star’ Krishnam Raju came as big blows to Tollywood, and the end of the year brought the news of the passing of veteran actors Kaikala Satyanarayana and Chalapathi Rao.
The year began on tragic note with the death of actor-producer Ramesh Babu, elder brother of popular actor Mahesh Babu, in January.
Ramesh Babu was known for films such as Bazaar Rowdy, Mugguru Kodukulu and others. After his retirement from acting in 1997, he had become a producer.
April saw the death of three veteran Tollywood personalities. Director Sarath passed away at the age of 74 after battling cancer. Sarath, who made his directorial debut in 1986 with Chadastapu Mogudu, made over 20 films in his career. He predominantly worked with actors Nandamuri Balakrishna and Suman.
While he delivered superhits such as Vamshanikokkadu, Sulthan, Peddannayya, and Vamshoddharakudu, he directed Suman in films Bava Bavamaridi, Peddinti Alludu, and Chinna Alludu.
The same month, veteran actor M. Balayya passed away at the age of 94. He had acted in more than 300 films and was popular for playing the role of elderly and other important roles in several super hit movies.
Veteran director Tatineni Rama Rao’s death came as another loss to Tollywood. He passed away in Chennai at the age of 84.
He had started his career in the film industry as an assistant director and made his directorial debut with Navarathri (1966), starring Akkineni Nageswara Rao and Savitri in the lead roles. He directed more than 65 films in Telugu and Hindi.
He directed blockbusters such as Brahmachari (1966), Manchi Mitrulu (1969), Jeevana Tarangalu (1973), Dorababu (1974), Yamagola (1977), Anuraga Devatha (1982) and Pachchani Kapuram (1985).
In September, Tollywood lost legendary actor U. V. Krishnam Raju. He passed away the age of 83. Known as the ‘rebel star’ of Telugu cinema, he was the uncle of popular actor Prabhas.
In a career spanning 50 years, Krishnam Raju acted in more than 180 films. He was also a recipient of five Filmfare south awards as well as three Nandi awards. His most famous works include Jeevana Tarangalu, Krishnaveni, and Bhakta Kannappa among others.
Raju served as the Union Minister of state in various ministries in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led NDA government between 2000 and 2002. He was elected to the Kakinada and Narasapuram constituencies in the 12th and 13th Lok Sabha on BJP ticket.
In November, Tollywood suffered a huge loss with the death of legendary actor Krishna. He died of cardiac arrest at the age of 79.
Ghattamaneni Siva Rama Krishna Murthy or Superstar Krishna, as he was popularly known, acted in more than 350 films in a career spanning five decades. He also produced and directed a few films.
Father of actor Mahesh Babu, Krishna was credited with introducing many new trends in Tollywood.
He is known for many landmark movies like ‘Alluri Seetharama Raju’, which was the first cinemascope movie in Tollywood, ‘Eenadu’ (1982), first Eastman colour film and ‘Simhasanam’ (1986), the first 70 mm film.
The superstar founded Padmalaya Studio in 1970 and produced some highly successful movies.
The superstar was reported to be depressed since the death of his wife Indira Devi in September. Early this year, he lost his elder son Ramesh Babu.
Considered close to former Prime Minister Rahiv Gandhi, Krishna joined the Congress party in 1984. He was elected to Lok Sabha from Eluru in 1989 but lost the election in 1991 from the same constituency. After Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination, Krishna distanced himself from politics
He received several awards including NTR national award in 2003. In 2009, he was honoured with the Padma Bhushan for his contributions to Indian cinema.
The last month of the year saw Tollywood losing two more veteran actors. Kaikala Satyanarayana passed away on December 23 at the age of 87. Known for his roles as a villain and character artiste, he acted in over 750 films. In a career spanning 60 years, he worked with over 200 directors.
A close friend of former Chief Minister N. T. Rama Rao, he was elected to Lok Sabha from Machilipatnam in 1996 on the ticket of Telugu Desam Party (TDP). He later quit politics.
Even before Tollywood could recover from this shock, another veteran actor Tammareddy Chalapathi Rao passed away on December 25. He died of cardiac arrest at the age of 78.
Known for his comic and villainous roles, he acted with three generations of top stars in a career spanning over five decades. He acted more than 600 films.
Chalapathi Rao made his debut in 1966 with ‘Ghodachari 116’. He acted in supporting roles with leading actors like N. T. Rama Rao, Krishna, Nagarjuna, Chiranjeevi and Venkatesh. He also produced a few films.