He was an icon in Indian cinema who made films much ahead of their times on social issues that are relevant even today. Award-winning filmmaker K Viswanath was not just a writer and director, but also an actor and mentor to many.
According to Latha Srinivasan, this film, which debuted in 1980, quickly became recognisable thanks to Kamal Haasan’s outstanding performance, the lovely storyline, and the superb director. The famed Indian classical music play Sankarabharanam/Sagara Sangamam, composed and directed by K Viswanath, premiered to virtually empty theatres but went on to run for nearly 25 weeks thanks to word-of-mouth. With four National Awards for this Telugu film, K Viswanath established himself as one of the greatest Indian filmmakers ever.
His popular movies, such as Swati Kiranam, Swarna Kamalam, Sruthilayalu, and Swarabhishekam, which emphasised the value of music in movies, helped him establish himself as an icon. K Viswanath, who worked in Hindi, Tamil, and Telugu cinema, was admired not just by actors but also by filmmakers, technicians, and producers for his expertise in the field and his ability to develop films that emotionally affected viewers. The age of the masters of Indian cinema comes to an end with Kasinadhuni Viswanath’s death on February 3.
The Sangeet director was actually a sound recordist when he started his career at the Vauhini Studios in Chennai. He was born on February 19, 1930, in Pedapulivarru, Guntur district. In 1951, for the Telugu-Tamil movie Pathala Bhairavi, he started working as K V Reddy’s assistant director since he wanted to make movies. The Telugu movie Aatma Gowravam, starring Akkineni Nageswara Rao, Kanchana, and Rajasree, provided him with the chance to make his directorial debut, and the rest is history.
Sankarabharam (1980) demonstrated his mastery of the craft whereas Siri Siri Muvva (1976) demonstrated his comprehension of it. In actuality, several of K Viswanath’s movies were decades ahead of their time. Each of K Viswanath’s films connected with the audience because he began to aggressively examine societal themes and interpersonal interactions. If he talked about Saptapadi’s untouchability, he also brought up the respect that manual labourers in Subhodayam and Swayamkrushi deserved.
However, the Swati Muthyam filmmaker also produced films that focused on women’s issues, such as misogyny and inequality. For instance, Kamal Haasan plays an autistic guy who assists a young widow named Radhikaa while she is being mistreated by her family in the movie Swati Muthyam. In this movie, Viswanath emphasised the significance of widow remarriage, which was stigmatised by some in society. His 1982 film Subhalekha, starring Chiranjeevi and Sumalata, highlighted the dangers of the dowry system, a pressing topic in Indian society at the time.
It’s interesting to note that Nandamuri Balakrishna, Nagarjuna, Rajinikanth, and Kamal Haasan were among the numerous stars with whom Subhapradam (2010) director turned actor in 1985. Oppanda, a 2022 Kannada movie, was the final movie he appeared in.
Many people in the film industry, including celebrities like Kamal Haasan and Anil Kapoor, looked up to K Viswanath as their mentor or guru, and he was beloved by everyone he worked with. The outpouring of grief on social media is proof that every actor or director who worked with him or met him left with some advise that helped them in their careers.
The filmmaker, who has also appeared in a number of movies with the Ulaganayagan, including Kurithipunal and Uttama Villain, had a close friendship with Kamal Haasan. The Vikram actor collaborated with him on three movies that are still talked about today: Salangai Oli, Sippikul Muthu, and Paasa Vazhai. In addition, Kamal always treats him with the same reverence that he does for his other guru, K Balachander. It’s possible that Kamal will always remember the time he spent with the filmmaker in November 2022 at his home in Hyderabad.
In 1983, the director made his Hindi film debut with the Shubh Kaamna version of Subhalekha. He starred alongside Anil Kapoor in the 1989 Hindi remake of Swati Muthyam as Eeshwar, and the Mr. India star said that K Viswanath was his mentor.
The quantity of honours that K Viswanath has received demonstrates his versatility and brilliance. He was a legend who cannot be replaced and a skilled craftsman. He is possibly the only director who could successfully merge independent filmmaking with mainstream filmmaking in a way that would appeal to a sizable audience. His movies featured all the popular genres, including humour, romance, action, feeling, and drama, but they also managed to bring attention to pressing social issues. His stories were full of real passion and his characters were likeable. He emphasised the value of music in movies and infused classical music with life in many of his productions. He altered what constitutes commercial film, and the performances he coerced from his actors served as evidence.
Indian cinema has lost a real legend on February 3 but the legacy K Viswanath leaves behind in Indian cinema is a masterclass for all present and future actors and filmmakers, and audiences.