Thursday, July 25, 2024

Viswanath, a rare distinguished director

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It was ‘Sankarabharanam’, a flick by K Viswanath released in 1980, which created ripples in the Telugu film industry with movie critics and lovers unequivocally showering accolades, divided the history of Tollywood into two chapters-before ‘Sankarabharanam’ and after it.
The ace filmmaker breathed his last here on Thursday night.

Born in 1930 in Repalle in Andhra Pradesh, Viswanath was recognised as ‘Kalatapasvi’ (sage of art) and shot into the limelight after “Sankarabharanam.”

What naturally followed was fame and awards. It was exactly 43 years ago on February 2, the epic drama was released.

Though he was flooded with several offers, Viswanath chose to make films with the ideology he believed in. His films used to revolve around art and culture.

With over 50 films in his kitty in a career spanning almost six decades, he was honoured with the prestigious Raghupathy Venkaiah Award for his contribution to Telugu cinema in 1991.

Besides the Dadasaheb Phalke Award, he was also felicitated with Padma Shri in 1992, five National Awards, 20 Nandi Awards (given by the Andhra Pradesh government) and 10 Filmfare trophies, including the Lifetime Achievement award.

As described by Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, Viswanath was a rare distinguished film director who chose an ordinary story and turned it into a classic movie on the silver screen with his amazing talent.

Actors like Chiranjeevi and Venkatesh who had an action hero image then, were portrayed in different shades in Viswanath’s movies.

Viswanath was a celebrated filmmaker in the Telugu film industry. He had been active in Tamil and Hindi cinema also.

He debuted as a director with ‘Aatma Gowravam’ in 1965, which starred Akkineni Nageswara Rao and won the Nandi Award for the best feature film. The filmmaker followed it with ‘Chelleli Kapuram’, ‘O Seeta Katha’, ‘Jeevana Jyoti’ and ‘Sarada’. Viswanath, who started his journey in the film industry as a sound artist, also made superhit movies in Hindi as well. ‘Kaamchor’, ‘Sanjog’ and ‘Jaag Utha Insaan’ were among them.

His long career included an equally successful stint in front of the camera.

Viswanath ventured into mainstream acting, working in Telugu movies like ‘Swarabhishekam’ (which he directed as well), ‘Pandurangadu’, ‘Narasimha Naidu’, ‘Lakshmi Narasimha’ and ‘Seemasimham’ and in Tamil films including ‘Kuruthipunal’, ‘Kakkai Siraginilae’ and ‘Bagavathi’ among others.

The Telugu Film Producers Council said a holiday was declared on Friday for the industry as a mark of respect to the departed soul.

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