- Left school when he was eight years old.
- Appeared in films in Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada and English.
- In 1983 he was honoured with the Padma Bhushan, India's third-highest civilian award.
- Won the National Film Award for Best Male Playback Singer for the song "Naadamaya Ee Lokavella" for Jeevana Chaitra (1992).
- Was granted the Dadashaheb Phalke Award, India's highest cinematic award, in 1995.
- A ten-time winner of the Filmfare Awards South Best Actor award.