Nandamuri Harikrishna Image Credit: Supplied

Hyderabad: Telugu film actor, senior leader of the Telugu Desam Party and former MP Nandamuri Harikrishna died in a road accident in the Nalgonda district of Telangana early on Wednesday.

He would have turned 62 on September 2.

Harikrishna was third among the eight sons of former chief minister, Telugu Desam Party founder and legendary film actor Nandamuri Taraka Rama Rao.

News of his death plunged the political and film worlds in the two Telugu states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana into gloom.

According to police Harikrishna was driving when the accident occurred at Anaparthi, near Nalgonda town.

He was travelling from Hyderabad to Nellore to attend a wedding ceremony. His two friends Venkat Rao and Shivaji who were travelling with him were injured in the accident. According to them Harikrishna lost control of the vehicle when he turned to pickup a water bottle while he was behind the wheel.

The vehicle overturned several times after hitting the road median and the impact was such that Harikrishna was thrown out of the vehicle

He sustained severe injuries to the head and chest.

He was rushed to Kamineni Hospital at Narketpally, where he succumbed to his injuries.

Nalgonda District Superintendent of Police Ranganath told journalists speeding was believed to be the cause of the incident.

“If he had put on the seat belt, the impact could have been reduced,” he said. The speed of the car at the time of accident was 160km/h, he added. “The car was found 15 metres away from the place where it hit the divider and Harikrishna was found lying 20 metres away”, he said.

Harikrishna’ brother-in-law and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu and his son, minister Nara Lokesh, rushed by helicopter to Nalgonda on hearing about the accident. Naidu broke down when he saw the body of his brother-in-law who had played a key role in his rise to the post of AP Chief Minister in August 1995.

Harikrishna’s other brother and popular actor N. Balakrishna, his sisters Bhuvaneshwari and PUrandeswari and two sons N.T.R. Junior and Kalyan Ram (also Telugu actors) also rushed to the hospital.

After a post-mortem, the body was shifted to Hyderabad and was being kept at his residence in the Mehdipatnam area of the city. Naidu also accompanied the body to the city. Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao, who paid tributes to Harikrishna by laying a wreath announced that he would be accorded a state funeral.

A large number of mourners both from film and political worlds gathered at Harikrishna’s residence for his last glimpse. The body will be shifted to TDP headquarters in the evening to enable party workers to pay their respects.

Harikrishna who started his film career as a child actor later turned to politics and played a vital role in Chandrababu Naidu’s coup against N.T.R. in August 1995 by mobilising entire family in support of Naidu against NTR. Second marriage of N.T.R. to Lakshmi Parvathi had triggered the family revolt and catapulted Naidu to the post of Chief Minister and TDP president.

Naidu rewarded him with a ministry as well as made him the chief of the youth wing of TDP. He also served as member of Rajya Sabha. However he was gradually sidelined in the party and intermittently acted in Telugu films. At one stage he had also staged a revolt against Naidu and floated his own party which failed to make a mark forcing him to return to the TDP. However it did not deter him from speaking out against Naidu from time to time.

His association with active politics started on an interesting note as he became the driver of his father’s famou “Chaitanya Ratham” after N.T.R. launched his party and undertook statewide election tour in 1982. But driving remained his first love and he always preferred to drive his vehicles even when he was transport minister in the state.

In a case of tragic irony, Harikrishna’s elder son Janaki Ram died in a road accident a few years ago in the same Nalgonda district. Another of his sons and one of the most popular Telugu film heroes, N.T.R. Jr, had a very narrow escape in another road accident in 2009 in the same Nalgonda district.

Harikrishna’s younger brother N. Balakrishna is another popular Telugu film actor and TDP MLA from Hindupur in Andhra Pradesh.

His son N.T.R. Junior is among the most popular Telugu film heroes. Another son, Kalyan Ram is also an actor.