With most directors and writers leeching off of foreign film scripts, Telugu cinema right now seems to be going through a dearth of original content. A fact which perhaps made the 25-sessions event on Telugu film legends at Lamakaan more pertinent.
The celluloid fare that is on offer has of course takers in many countries across the world, a quantum leap from the strictly regional appeal it had even a decade ago. Still, good cinema is a rarity is the connoisseurs’ lament.
Hence, in many ways, there could not have been a more fitting finale to the event when on Sunday, many turned up to discuss and cherish the times and genius of Kasinathuni Viswanath, arguably one of the all-time greats of Telugu cinema and known for his consistently qualitative, family-oriented offerings.
The evening began with a musical tribute to the heavyweight. A sound engineer-turned-director, K Viswanath made his move into wielding the megaphone based on the advice of the thespian A Nageswara Rao and also that of noted director, Adurthi Subba Rao.
In his own words, his career was split into two parts – one before the release of the massive hit Siri Siri Muvva in 1976 and the one after which saw him in his full bloom, for the next decade and more in a pan-Indian manner.
This is the phase when he began working with both new faces and established names – beginning with Sankarabharanam, which had unknown actors like J V Somayajulu and a not-so-popular Manju Bhargavi in lead roles. “This was my humble attempt at creating awareness about our musical legacy,” he adds.
The discussions that followed after the screening threw up interesting observations. Tammareddy Bharadwaja, an industry veteran appealed to the audience that instead of complaining, people should nurture good cinema.
“It is imperative to carry on the momentum of Viswanath garu and so one should support quality films and not lament or criticize about its absence on social media”, he said.
Noted author and film writer Janardhana Maharshi who was present, recollected a few interesting anecdotes. He said that the success of Sankarabharanam, a rare feat in the ‘80s in south India, was followed by a surge in classical music learning by youngsters. “The director’s home in Chennai became a tourist spot and people used to walk barefoot when they crossed it,” he revealed. With Sagara Sangamam, traditional dance became popular, he added.
All in all, the director’s contribution is colossal to an industry that would do better to remember his genius now.