Veteran Telugu director K Viswanath conferred Dada Saheb Phalke Award

M Somasekhar Hyderabad | Updated on March 10, 2018

K Viswanath

Acclaimed Telugu film director K Viswanath has been conferred the 2016 Dada Saheb Phalke Award for outstanding contribution to the film industry.

He joins the Telugu cinema greats like Akkineni Nageswara Rao, BN Reddy (Vijaya Studios), LV Prasad, Rama Naidu, Paidi Jairaj and Bommi Reddy Narasimha Reddy to become the 48th recipient of the award, the highest recognition in Indian cinema, which consists of a golden lotus, a cash prize of ₹10 lakh and a shawl.

Maker of highly meaningful films that take a critical look at society’s social and cultural values, 87-year-old Kalatapswini Kasinadhuni Viswanath stands tall in the tinsel-town.

In a career spanning over half a century, Viswanath excelled in portraying human and social values subtly and realistically in a contemporary setting. His works are also known for giving full expression to music and performing arts.His genial nature enabled him to work with renowned musicians like Ilaiyaraaja, KV Mahadevan, Hariprasan Chaurasia, and Kelucharan Mahapatra, to enrich his films and offer a memorable and entertaining cinematic experience for the audience.

Though most of his 50 films (including a few in Hindi and Tamil) beginning with Aatma Gowrawam, a ANR starrer, appear simple, theycarry deep messages in layered narratives. He has made significant contributions to both mainstream and parallel cinemas, with a brief presence in the small-screen as well.The trademark of Viswanath’s movies were titles beginning with the letter `S’ — Sankarabharanam, Sagara Sangamam, Siri Siri Muvva, Swathi Muthyam, Saptapadi, and Subhalekha. Each of these has left a lasting impression on generations of Telugu cinema audiences for their sheer story telling. In fact, Swathi Muthyam (Pure Pearl) was also India’s official entry to the Oscars in 1986 under the ‘Foreign Film’ category.

Born to K Subrahmanyam and Saraswatamma in Peddapulivarru village near Tenali in Andhra Pradesh in February 1930, Viswanath entered the film world as a technician in Madras, working with Adhurthi Subba Rao S. He worked his way up, evolving into a director of substance.

The soft-spokendirector characterstically donned the ‘khaki’ on location, usually everyday life-settings. Though simple, he was meticulous in his approach and this brought out the best in his actors and technicians alike. For instance, Kamal Hasan and Jayaprada in Sagara Sangaman, Chiranjeevi in Swayamkrishi, lyricists like Sirivennala Sitarasastry and Veturi Sundara Ramamurthyand, and for a body of mellifluous songs by SP Balasubrahmanyam. Viswanath was an inspiration for a whole generation of directors.

Little wonder that Viswanath’s works have received wide recognition. His films have bagged five National, 20 State Nandi, and a dozen Filmfare awards. In 1992, he was decorated with the Padma Shri.

The Dada Saheb Phalke Award will be conferred on Viswanath by President Pranab Mukherjee on May 3 at Vigyan Bhavan here.

(Copy corrected for a factual error)

Published on April 25, 2017

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