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The K. Viswanath Story : The Man. The Legacy.

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Legendary Indian filmmaker K. Viswanath breathed his last on February 2, 2023. The 92-year-old director was active in the Indian film industry for over six decades. During his active directorial days, he made movies in several languages, commenting on different aspects of society. 

Viswanath is regarded as a ‘guru’ by film personalities in India, for his contribution to their filmography. As Indian cinema was reaching the world in the second half of the last century, K. Viswanath was a towering Indian figure who was appreciated by people across the globe. 

Recipient of multiple national and international awards, K Viswanath started his career as an audiographer. He apprenticed and got trained in audio for the larger part of his initial years, following which he made a smooth transition to feature films. Viswanath’s filmography stood apart from the rest of his colleagues because of the commercial and artistic texture of his works. In the decades of 1970s and 80s, he actively made movies that commented on the social issues prevalent in the country. He was able to keep the entertainment quotient of the movie intact which made them earn big bucks at the box office.

Kamal Haasan visits 'master' K Viswanath at his home ...

Kamal Haasan with his ‘Master’ K Viswanath. Credits – Hindustan Times

Born in 1930, K. Viswanath has his family roots in Pedapulivarru, Andhra Pradesh. After completing his scholastic and college education, he worked under the guidance of acclaimed sound recordist A Krishnan. 

Major Contribution

He made his debut with a Telugu film Aatma Gowravam, which won the Nandi Award for Best Feature Film. The initial years of his career are notably impressive as he ventured into commenting on social issues right from the beginning. After his debut with critically acclaimed movies, K. Viswanath made a women’s trilogy with three women-centric dramas in four years. 

Kalatapaswi K Viswanath Breathed His Last

Besides Telugu, Viswanath made films in Tamil and Hindi. Credits – Greatandhra

One of his most notable films is Sankarabharanam. The movie, which was made in 1980, highlighted the plight of Carnatic music, against the growing influence of Western movies. In his report, Bhaskaran, a media researcher, stated that the movie was responsible for helping traditional Carnatic music sustain and flourish further. 

Notable Experiments 

Hindi films struggled big time in the 1980s. The film industry was marred by the phenomenon of remakes that were introduced in India. Around the same time, the southern film, much like now, towered over the Hindi films, as far as content and consumption were concerned. Vishwanath led the movement to an extent, with his unique quality of telling relevant stories entertainingly and commercially. He touched upon issues such as the woes of a psychologically challenged woman (Sarada), class and caste conflict (Kalam Marindi), and relations between deaf and dumb characters (Sirivennela).

Besides being a filmmaker par excellence, K. Viswanath was also a very keen observer of society. He single-handedly managed to keep the standards of Telugu films high for several decades. His death is being mourned by all sections of society for the immense value he added to the culture and glory of the national film industry. 


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