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15 April 2014

The Masters: VK Murthy

26.11.1923 - 07.04.2014
This was not the post I intended to publish next. Amidst feverish work deadlines, I'd been polishing a review of a film adapted from Shakespeare. Last week, on 7th April, when I was putting the final touches to that post, news came in through my feeds - VK Murthy was dead. I had been planning a post on the veteran cinematographer for the past year and a half. It required more research than I had the time for, and I kept putting it off, only pausing to file away the articles I found for reference. Then, my laptop crashed and I lost not just my reference articles, but many drafts, lists, photographs and other important documents. VK Murthy, and my idea of a post on him, slipped into the recesses of my memory. 

It took his death to brush off the cobwebs of my mind and write a tribute to the man and his art. The papers are full of tributes to his death; why write one more? Instead, I decided to go back to my original idea. 'The Masters' category on my blog is an attempt to throw light on the men behind the screen - the directors, music directors, lyricists, scriptwriters, cinematographers, musicians, etc., who help create that magic that the heroes and heroines bring alive on screen. 

Out of those sub-categories, the average cine-goer still recognises singers, directors, music directors and sometimes, lyricists and scriptwriters as well. Other technicians such as background musicians and cinematographers or set designers are practically unheard of outside the industry. 

From the golden era of cinema, the names of two cinematographers stand out more than most - not only because of their craft, but also because of their association with two of the finest directors of the age - Radhu Karmakar, long-time associate of Raj Kapoor, and VK Murthy, Guru Dutt's partner-in-crime where the camera was concerned. With equipment that would seem primitive by today's standards, VK Murthy and his compatriots created magic on screen. 

Venkatrama Pandit Krishnamurthy's journey to becoming VK Murthy, the eminent technician who was known as 'Guru Dutt's eyes' is the stuff films are made of - a rags to riches story that began in the erstwhile princely state of Mysore in 1923. He was quite honest about his desire to work in films - he wanted to be famous. At 15, he ran away from home to join a Bombay college that advertised a course on cinema. With Rs.80 in his pocket, he only reached as far as Bangalore. Luckily, he met a family friend there, who lent him some money that enabled him to reach the city of his dreams. 

The college course never materialised, but fortune favouring the brave (or the foolhardy), the relative with whom he was staying took him to Saraswati Cinetones, a Pune studio, where he managed to find work as a cameraman's assistant. When he found things weren't working out as planned, Murthy returned to Mysore to finish his matriculation. 

Soon, it seemed Lady Luck was offering him another chance. Sri Jayachamarajendra Polytechnic, Bangalore began offering courses related to cinema. Murthy applied but was rejected. Only his prior experience as assistant cameraman (where he was kept many feet away from the camera) tilted the scales in his favour. Again, it was the family friend who stepped up to pay his fees. It is interesting to note that he didn't get to work with a camera at the institute either - it was an internship in Bombay during his second year that first gave him the opportunity to actually fiddle with camera settings. 

During his college days, Murthy had played the violin for a troupe of Bharatanatyam dancers, which gave him an opportunity to play music for a film. Soon after finishing his course, he returned to Bombay, where he began his professional life as fourth assistant to the camera man. Within no time at all, he had moved up the ladder to first assistant. Soon, he was assisting veteran cinematographers such as Fali Mistry and Dronacharya as well. It was while assisting Mistry that he met Guru Dutt, who was then shooting Baazi (1951). 

In an interview with The Times of India in 2008, Murthy describes that meeting. He had suggested that Suno gazar kya gaaye be panned in one shot. Dev Anand is standing at the bar, his back to the dance floor. Murthy suggested that the camera follow the movement of the reflection, shoot in close-ups and pan down to Dev, who then turns and moves towards the dancer. It was a tracking and trolley movement. Dutt wasn't sure that his cameraman (V. Ratra) would be able to execute the shot. With Ratra's permission, VK Murthy executed the shot in one take. Impressed, Guru Dutt offered him his next film, Jaal. Thus began a very satisfying professional relationship that would only end with Dutt's death. 

Guru Dutt was a very demanding director, both of himself (according to Murthy, Dutt took 104 shots before he okayed the iconic crucifix pose in Pyaasa), and his technicians, and VK Murthy was a perfectionist when it came to his craft.  It lead to some fantastic creative work from the two of them but it was not without its fallout. The cast and crew on the sets were often witness to epic battles between two opinionated stalwarts. Guru Dutt was always impatient to begin shooting the scene the way he had conceived it; unfortunately, sometimes, it took time to set up the shot, work out the angles, set up the lighting. It infuriated Dutt, though Murthy asserts that he never interfered. After one dust-up on the sets of Aar Paar, Guru Dutt explained to Murthy that he was under severe pressure to meet deadlines; he promised his cinematographer that when he had the money, he would make a film just for Murthy, and let him have all the time he needed to set up his shots as he wanted. He did make good on that promise - the film was Kaagaz ke Phool.

VK Murthy's contribution to Guru Dutt's films cannot be minimised. All the fabulous scenes one remembers from Dutt's films had their iconic value based firmly not just in the acting and direction, but in the way the shot was composed, and the way light and shade was used to maximum effect. 

There is the scene in the climax of Pyaasa, for example, that is breathtaking in the way it is composed and set up. Vijay (Guru Dutt) has been pronounced dead, and his poems have been published posthumously by Gulabo (Waheeda Rehman). When they realise Vijay is not dead after all, his avaricious brothers, aided by his equally greedy best friend, and the canny publisher, succeed in having him declared insane. When he escapes from the asylum and lands up at his own 'death anniversary', Vijay is disillusioned by what he sees. Dutt framed the initial shot in the doorway with a close-up at the beginning of the song. As the camera pans away from him, to show us the view from the dais, he is shown in silhouette, backlit, his pose heavily symbolic of the crucifixion. (There are plenty of other shots that suggest the that in this film.)
Guru Dutt's obsession with cinema also helped his team innovate. Kaagaz ke Phool was India's first cinemascope film. In an interview, VK Murthy traced the beginnings of that landmark film. Guru Dutt wanted to do something different for his new film. A chance meeting with the manager of 20th Century Fox, gave him what he was looking for. Having come to India to shoot a cinemascope film, the unit had returned leaving the lenses behind. The manager offered to lend them to Guru Dutt to experiment. VK Murthy took some trial shots and Dutt liked the effect so much that he decided to shoot his whole film in that format.

Of course, no post on VK Murthy can be complete without the story behind the fantastic beam shot, even though it's been repeated in every tribute that has ever been written about the director, the film, or now, the cinematographer. Waqt ne kiya was being shot in Natraj Studios, and the director and his camera man walked in to find the light filtering through the windows. Guru Dutt wanted that in his film, but they had no idea how to duplicate it for the shot. Guru Dutt suggested using natural sunlight. Finally, after a lot of experimentation - and inspiration in the form of the light reflecting off a make-up man's mirror - they brought in two mirrors; one was kept outside the studio door in the sun, and the light reflected off that onto the other mirror which was kept on the catwalk. They had exactly an hour to shoot the scene. Guru Dutt added some smoke to add to the effect, and the shot was framed for posterity.  It won for Murthy the Best Cinematographer Award (1959) at the Filmfare Awards.
Sahib Bibi aur Ghulam was another Guru Dutt film where Murthy worked his magic. From the scene where Guru Dutt looks at the ruined haveli and remembers how it looked when he first saw it; a dark night, light spilling out of the haveli's arched windows, chhoti bahu's voice as she sings Koi door se awaaz de chale aao... Or even Saqiya aaj mujhe neend nahin aaye, where the focus is on the main dancer (Minoo Mumtaz) and the Bade Thakur; the background dancers are all in silhouette, backlit. It made for a beautiful tableau. 

Or the shot where Bhootnath first catches a glimpse of Chhoti Bahu. The camera slowly captures his expression as he enters the dimly lit room, and then pans to Chhoti Bahu, moving slowly up from her alta-stained feet to her beautiful face. 

Guru Dutt's suicide hit Murthy hard, both personally and professionally. As he puts it, he didn't know whom to work with any more. (Murthy had also worked with Pramod Chakravorty from the 60s on, helming the camera from 12 o'Clock and Tumse Achcha Kaun Hai, to Warrant, Jugnu, Azaad, and Nastik, amongst others.) So while he did work with Kamal Amrohi (Razia Sultan), (Shyam Benegal (Bharat ek Khoj), and Govind Nihalani (Tamas), the era of colour seemed to make the wizard of light and shadows redundant. As he caustically put it, film-makers didn't know what to do with colour. Besides, the shift system, according to him, only emphasised the unprofessional attitude of the actors, who used that to work on different films simultaneously. 

For a man who Shammi Kapoor once applauded as 'the hero of the film' (after watching 'Kagaz ke Phool'), Murthy has been woefully unrecognised while alive - a couple of Filmfare awards, the Kodak Award for Technical Excellence in Indian cinema (4th MAMI film festival, 2001), the IIFA Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005, and rather belatedly, the Dadasaheb Phalke Award in 2008 - he is the only cinematographer to have been awarded the nation's highest cinematic honour. He didn't care much for awards, though, and has been quoted as saying, 'Awards don't fetch films.'

Though a Kannadiga, he preferred to work in Hindi films until 1993, when he became the principal cinematographer for the acclaimed Kannada film Hoovu Hannu, in which he also appeared in a cameo. He taught cinematography workshops at the Kanteerava Studios, Bangalore, as well as in Madras and Travancore. To him, cinematography was both art and science, and the science was the easy part. The master of manipulation of light and shade treated cinematography like a symphony, conveying a depth of emotion that reached across the screen to touch the audience.

The soft-spoken genius moved gracefully away from the limelight to live his years out in Bangalore with his wife and daughter. His passing, at the age of 90, signifies yet another nail in the coffin of a glorious age.


  1. Anu, thank you for this tribute. When I'd heard about VK Murthy's passing, I did toy - but very briefly - with the idea of writing a tribute. What I'd thought of doing was a compilation of unforgettable shots from his films (and yes, all the three you've mentioned - from Pyaasa, Kaagaz ke Phool and Sahib Bibi aur Ghulam - were going to be part of it). But I was just too busy, and I knew that it would take a lot of research (and rewatching of films) to do justice to Mr Murthy... he was brilliant, wasn't he? RIP, Mr Murthy.

  2. Thank you, dustedoff. I had a whole bunch of shots listed and the scene captures that I had meant to use, but I lost all of them. These were the only ones that were easily available; I couldn't easily find even the other shot from Sahib Bibi aur Ghulam I mentioned - the one where Bhootnath meets Chhoti Bahu for the first time, and the camera pans from her feet slowly upwards. As you said, there wasn't enough time to go back digging for those shots and then rewatching films to get the captures. I dithered between putting it off once again until I had the time, or writing a post now with the material I had. :(

  3. I was in fact expecting a tribute from you! He should be rightly called the father of Indian cinematography.

  4. Good one this post of yours.

    A master - maybe the greatest cinematographer India has produced so far. What I liked about his camera is that black had many shades through Murthy's lens. I still think Waheeda Rahman looked ethereal in the song Chauduvin ka Chand ho, all thanks to him and Guru Dutt's infatuation.

  5. Thank you, Venkatesh. Murthy was definitely one of the greats, but I think we would be erring to call him the father of Indian cinematography. Dada Saheb Phalke was his own cinematographer, and people like Fali Mistry and Dronacharya followed doing stellar work in Hindi cinema.

  6. Thanks, Boby.

    You are right about Murthy's camera lending tones and shades to a monochromatic screen. His grasp of lighting and angles was amazing. You know, I originally had the shot of Waheeda's face from the title song of Chaudvin ka Chand in this post, but there was one interview in which he mentioned that that was the one Guru Dutt film that he didn't work on. Apparently, it was his assistant Nariman Irani who shot the film. Unfortunately, my recollection is rather vague, and I lost that link, amongst others, when my laptop crashed. With no way of checking out its veracity (I tried googling, but it didn't throw up anything), I decided to drop it.

  7. To my best, C ka Chand had Murthy and Irani (not sure here) sharing credits for being DoP. From the way light has been handled, I am sure it is definitely Murthy if only for the song.

  8. Both Wiki and IMDB list Murthy as the DoP for Chaudvin ka Chand. I would have laid my bets on Murthy shooting that song as well, except for this interview with him that I remember reading. :( I decided to err on the side of leaving it out.

  9. Was Dadasaheb Palke ever a photographer? Thanks for letting me know :) Fali Mistry and Dronacharya are pioneers, no doubt, but I wonder how their legacy will compare Murthy's.

  10. Phalke started life off as a photographer. Telang was his first cinematographer, but I think towards the end, Phalke was his own DoP. I don't know how cinematic history will deal with any of these people - Mistry, Dronacharya, Murthy, etc. Suffice it to say that they gave us a legacy to be proud of.

  11. Well, he seems to be a trained artist who also learnt photography. Wikipedia says he started off as a photographer. Means, he was essentially a still photographer. I don't know how relevant it would be to call someone belonging to that era as a "DoP".

  12. He was the cinematographer of his last two films. DoP is a new phrase. :) In the early seventies, all you had was Camera, Stunts, Dances, etc Then, it changed to Cinematography, Action, Choreography. Then, as time went on, it became DoP, Action Director, and Farah Khan is now what? Director of Choreography? Something like that. I think titles keep changing. Means the same thing in the end, I guess.

  13. //He was the cinematographer of his last two films// Does that make him a great cameraman? I thought DoP is a one who manages several cameraman in the unit. A DoP may not fully shoot the film himself, but often leaves the task to operative cameramen and provides guidance. "Director of Choreography" sounds funny :)

  14. Wonderful tribute Anu. Like you said cinematographers and art directors are hardly written about which was one of the reasons I decided to interview Kamal Bose. In fact I had a sense of deja vu while reading your post I am now working on my next post and yes it is about Kamal Bose. It is really interesting to know how these ace cameramen give expression to the director's vision. It is well-known fact in the industry that often first time directors, some of whom may not have even had the experience of assisting any director, take on very experienced and talented cinematographers. As these directors are initially clueless about the technicalities they heavily depend on these cinematographers to show them the way.

  15. What you say about experienced cameramen (or any technician) adding value to a director's vision is spot on, Shilpi. Looking forward to your post about Kamal Bose.

  16. It is Nariman Irani who did C ka Chand, says this one - http://www.indiawest.com/news/18122-phalke-laureate-cinematographer-v-k-murthy-no-more.html. Maybe the author would have more on the topic. K

    Ke Phool was a '59 release and C Ka Chand '60 - and so Murthy may have been working on Guru Dutt's labour of love while asking his assistant to helm the other (assuming both films were on the floors simultaneously), of course I am hypothesising.

    But I still hold that it has to be Murthy who composed and filmed the song - quite an important one that it was, in fact Guru Dutt had it coloured for effect even.

  17. Anu,
    When colour came to films, film critics and purists were shocked that art would go out of films. Even though the world is full of colours, B&W films have a charm of their own. Most of us hardly care for the names of cinematographers. But VK Murthy is one name I knew as much as others associated with a film. His is the kind of cinema that elevates film photography to the level of art. Congratulations for an axcellent tribute to a great talent who was integral to Guru Dutt's films. We need to more such people who remained behind the curtains.


  18. Bharat Ek Khoj had some lovely shots. At the end of the first episode where there are little vignettes of India. from 30:00 onwards there are some lovely shots. I also liked a bit of happenstance at perhaps a little after 31:08 where a bull has a go at a dog. I'm glad they kept that bit in.

  19. Ah. Quite possible. And I'm not denying your hypothesis that Murthy shot the song. I'm only saying that with Irani being Murthy's assistant, and this being his first big break as an independent cinematographer, he probably followed his mentor's way of working. It could be either.

    Am I the only one who doesn't like the colourised version of Chaudhvin ka Chand ho? For me, it losts its beauty and became quite garish.

  20. AK, thank you. I love black and white films myself, and found the earlier colour films quite garish because the make-up and costumes clashed pretty badly. In fact, in an interview, Murthy talked about that - about how he had to tell actresses not to use the rose-hued pancake because it looked horrible on screen.

    I want to continue this series with other names from the background. I hope to goodness that I can find some material...

  21. This was one serial I used to watch with great interest when they showed it on Doordarshan. It is not just sheer nostalgia that makes me wish for those days again, when we had only that one channel. There were so many good shows to watch during that period that we were spoilt for choice. Today, with the plethora of channels, I can spend half an hour switching between them and not find anything worth viewing. :(

  22. Hi prose, welcome to my blog, and thank you for your detailed comment. I agree that your view is a valid one; but I can still disagree with it. I have had experience with two men deciding for me what I should do or not do, and I didn't like it then, and I do not like it now. If you have never felt that helpless in your life, good for you. And pfft to be looked at as a goodess, or a mother! *grin*

    I totally agree that the decision to stay together in a relationship should be mutual, and I can totally understand Balu not seeing her in a romantic light once he knew she was married. What bothered me was that he very earnestly argues for her to go back to her husband. No, I totally disagree that he has any right to do that. Madhavi goes back to her husband. Her choice, perhaps. But in the context of the film, what other choice did she have? When one of the choices is not a choice at all, what do you do? I do not have to agree with that either.

    I do not agree with anything that takes away a woman's free will. Her husband decides for her that he will 'free' her from the marriage? When he hasn't been around for ages? Balu decides for her that she will *stay* married? Seriously? Who asks *her* what she wants? If they were truly so altruistic, then *her* wishes should have come first.

    See, the point is, I can disagree with a character's motivations and yet see how they reached the conclusion they did, and the course they charted. Both Kamal and Jayaprada are consummate actors and makes it completely understandable. But I do not have to like it!

    My reaction is a subjective one and I do not agree that the criticism is 'unfair'. By that token, I can claim that your view is one that subjugates the woman under the guise of Bhakti. Make her a goddess and you can do pretty damn well what you choose to do.

    But, as I said, your view is equally valid from where you stand, and I'll fight for your right to state it. We have to agree to disagree here. :) I absolutely loved the film and the way it played out, because the story remained true to its ethos and characters. That I did not like the way it ended is my opinion as a viewer. We all take away different things from the same film, that is the beauty of it.

    Please do not remain a stranger to my blog. I appreciate the chance to discuss films even if your views are contrary to mine.

  23. I don't know if it makes him a *great* cameraman; what I'm saying is that even when Murthy was cinematographer, the DoP title hadn't put in an appearance.

  24. But I never said, "DoP" has got anything do with great cameramen!

  25. I was wondering what DoP stood for, so I had to go through all these comments to find out. Thanks, Anu and Venkatesh, for enlightening this old fogey! Yes, I was expecting to find this tribute from you, Anu, and I also wondered about the CkaC song.

  26. Read my answer again - did I say anything about a DoP being a great cameraman? :)

    You asked whether being the cinematographer of his films make him a great camera man, and I responded that I didn't know whether it did; the second clause of the sentence (after the semi-colon) was in response to your definition of DoP. And I pointed out that Murthy was also not a DoP - at the time, there was only 'camera' and later 'cinematographer'. :) :)

  27. Lalitha, :)
    The CoC song is intriguing - the lighting is very 'Murthy-ish'. But then Irani was his assistant and he would have done the lighting on other sets as well under Murthy's supervision; so having learnt under the master, he may have used his learning to good effect. I guess we will never know for certain.

  28. Oh! I missed out the semi-colon. Forgive me then :)

  29. Thanks Lalitha, but I think I was only partially right. Here is a detailed definition on Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Director_of_photography. It gives both Hollywood and British definitions. Don't ask about Indian perspective as I'm clueless about which standards our people follow!

  30. The color version was shot by Murthy as per 'Conversations with Waheeda Rehman'. The extract can be read here http://www.thehansindia.com/posts/index/2014-04-06/Conversations-with-Waheeda-Rehman-91157.

  31. Salim, thank you so much for this. It sets to rest a long debate on who shot the film.

  32. Ashraf Lakhani2 May 2014 at 16:21

    Thanks fo the beautiful tribute, I did not know, until I read your tribute that V. K. Murthy had passed away.
    His work with Guru Dutt is immortal.He has some beautiful shots in Bharat Ek Khoj and Tamas but no one could tap his talent like Guru Dutt.

  33. Thank you for the appreciation, Ashraf. I agree with you that his best work was with Guru Dutt.

  34. Awesome......
    Finally somebody had the good sense to pay tribute and appreciate the talent
    and work of those working behind the scenes in films. I for one, have always
    believed that directors, writers,technicians and musicians play a much bigger
    role than actors and singers in films. But they remain largely unsung and
    unhonoured. Infact in India, most people don't even bother to think about them,
    for maybe they are just too engrossed in actor/singer worship. Caps off
    for your efforts, Anudi ( I wear caps instead of hats so...) That said, i
    would like to make a few points here. I hope you will pardon me for this long

    1) From the golden age of Bollywood cinema, i think not two but
    three names stand out the most. Two as you have rightly pointed out are
    V.K.Murthy and Radhu Karmakar, The third great guy was Kamal Bose, the long
    term associate of Bimal Roy. Kamal Bose definitely belongs to the same league
    as Karmakarji and Murthyji.

    2) V.K.Murthy, without an inch of doubt, ranks among the
    greatest Indian cinematographers of all times. I don't think i need to
    speak anything about his work, for his work in films ( esp in Guru Dutt's
    films) speaks for itself. For me, Murthyji is the 2nd greatest cinematographer
    of Indian Cinema, next only to Subrata Mitra, who many hail as the greatest
    cinematographer India has produced till now.

    3) As far as who should be called as 'Father of Indian
    Cinematography' is concerned, i think thats a tricky one. Surely
    Mitra,Murthy,Karmakar, Bose,Mahajan,Gupta, Mistry brothers etc all have left
    lasting legacies,but none of them can be called as Father of Indian
    cinematography. D.Phalke cant be taken into consideration as he shot only two
    films of his and neither can be Hiralal Sen. For most real cinematography in
    Indian cinema was done by Nitin Bose. Many, and that includes the likes of
    Govind Nihalani, Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Tapan Sinha etc, say that it was
    Putul-da who taught what is camera composition in Indian cinema. That Nitin
    Bose was a very successful director too, probably make people of today's times
    forget his contributions as a pioneering cinematographer. Bimal Roy too is
    hailed as one of the pioneers in Indian Cinematography, having shot those
    wonderful NT classics Devdas, Mukti etc. Then there was Josef Wirsching of
    Bombay Talkies, another pioneer.And then there are legends like Faredoon Irani
    and Dilip Gupta. All of these guys deserve our respect and need to remembered,
    their works properly restored and preserved for even future generations to

    p,s: Its Radhu 'Karmakar', nor 'Karmarkar'.

  35. Raunak, thank you for the appreciation and the detailed comment. I read just today that the government has set up an organisation to retrieve our old films, clean them up, and archive them with the respect they deserve. I applaud the decision - it could not have come sooner.

    Thanks for spotting the typo - I have made the correction.

  36. I'm wondering why you've not taken into consideration the cinematographers from south, especially from Tamil and Malayalam. When you talk about realistic cinematography there are many down south when compared to Hindi/Bengali?Marathi cinemas.They are still the best in business. Also, I don't think Hrishikesh Mukherjee had photographed any film. He was primarily an editor who wrote and made films, right?

  37. Venkatesh, Raunak didn't say Hrishida shot any of his films as a cameraman; but to be a good director, you should have some idea of composing shots, and camera angles. What I gathered from Raunak's comment was that Hrishikesh Mukherjee is said to have stated that he learnt a lot from Nitin Bose.

    Secondly, Raunak is Bengali. And there was a rather strong link between Bengali technicians and Hindi cinema. Since we were talking about one of the greats of cinematography in Hindi cinema particularly, South Indian technicians would not come into the picture, would they? Today, most Hindi films are also shot by South Indian technicians who have made a name for themselves crossing regional borders.

  38. Venkatesh bhai, the reason i didn't take cinematographers from south into consideration was very simple. I was here talking about the Vintage/Pioneer era (1930-50) and the Golden era (1950-70s) of our indian cinema. That period of our cinema was dominated by Bengali, Hindi and Marathi film industries.. The Tamil and Malayalam film industries came of age much later. Of course today South Indian technicians dominate the industry but that wasn't the case back in those good old days. You may have noticed i haven't mentioned any major cinematographer of today's times, be it Venu, Santosh Sivan, Binod Pradhan,Abhik Mukhopadhyay, Anil Mehta etc just because i was talking about an entirely different period.

    My main objective was to shed light on the major cinematographers of our cinema in its first 60 yrs of existence, pioneers and legends who left an indelible imprint on our cinema. And it wasn't that there was any sort of bengali bias for i also mentioned the names of Murthysaab, Jal Mistry, Fali Mistry, Josef Wirsching,K.K.Mahajan, Faredoon Irani, genius people who i hold in high esteem..

  39. The main thing which I like about K. Vishwanath is the importance that he gives to classical music in his films. And, this one is no different from his previous ones. No wonder IR and SPB won National Awards for the film. I used to wonder why the jury preferred "Vedham anuvilum" to "Thagida thathimi". But after listening to the former, I thought they were perfectly right in casting their votes!!

    I still have the audio cassette of the film in my home albeit the Tamil version. When I was in school, my father used to play songs from this film and Shankarabharanam every morning along with some devotional stuff! Back then, I always wondered why does he "forward" the songs "Mounamana neram" and "Vaan pole" when they are up in the queue for their turn. It took some years for me to understand why he did that!

  40. Venkatesh, I too watched Silangai Oli first. Yes, the songs were always wonderful, and I remember watching K Vishwanath's films based on only his name, not the star cast.

  41. This film must have been shown on various telugu tv channels for over a hundred times by now. But we see that telugu households still come to a standstill whenever this film is shown even today. By the way, i recently went to a DVD shop to buy some old movies. I noticed so called 200 crore plus or three hundred crore plus movies being sold at rs.50 or 60/- but Sagara Sangamam ? Rs.280/- After 30 years.... after being shown so many times on t.v.... No more words needed to describe the popularity of this legendary film.

  42. The fact is that the movie is not dated even after 30 years.

  43. I am a great fan of K.Viswanath and his films. I also found your review of sagara sangamam to be pretty much closer to my feelings about this movie exept for the thing that there is a little over-reaction about the heoine being treated like a sacrificial lamb. Nevertheless i too feel that that part could have been handled better by the director. But very rearely we get to watch an indian movie where we feel that not a single frame or scene is wasted or irrelevant to the story. Another master stroke in this movie is that flashbacks are so beautfully woven into the story telling that each flashback leaves you yearning for the next. otherwise most of the flashbacks in our films either irritate or bore you.
    Have you reviewed any of his other films.... sankarabharanam, sirivennela ?

  44. there is a little over-reaction about the heoine being treated like a sacrificial lamb.

    I think gender plays a role here. I'm coming to it from a woman's perspective, so obviously, characterisations like this are the ones that I will scan more closely. From the male point of view, it is difficult to understand just how trapped women feel in these circumstances. And I do not mean that pejoratively either.

    That said, thank you for reading, and commenting. No, I haven't reviewed any other of his films, though I have watched every single one of them (and loved them, too)> I have always watched a KV film on the strength of his name, not that of the star cast.


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