The films of K. Viswanath

Suchetana Bauri takes a look at the top five films of acclaimed auteur K. Viswanath, who inaugurated AISFM’s Regional Film Festival last week.

K-Viswanath

Moving Images, in association with Annapurna International School of Film + Media celebrated regional cinema last week. K. Viswanath, one of South India’s most prominent filmmakers who, in the 1980s, changed the face of Telugu cinema, inaugurated the event. He is also one of a handful in the Indian film industry who can be termed an auteur. Every film he made was distinctly his: especially the treatment of social issues, culture and tradition in the film. Humanism is his signature style. All his films (more than three dozen) have the same, strong thread running through them, along with the technical aspects. Here are five of his best.

Sankarabharanam (1979)

Cast: J.V. Somayajulu, Manju Bhargavi, Chandra Mohan

Classical music in movies more often than not tends to have a detrimental effect on the film, but K.Viswanth’s blend of music and plot made this film a poignant cultural turning point.

Sagara Sangamam (1983)

Cast: Kamal Haasan, Jayaprada

It is brilliant. Jayaprada and Kamal Hassan together participate in the rhythm of life. The film has a huge cult following, and its influence can be felt in the innumerable dance films that followed.

Sirivennela (1986)

Cast: Sarvadaman Banerjee, Suhasini, Moon Moon Sen

It’s a moving film about two disabled protagonists. Usually cinema has either treated disabled people as objects of pity or as comic elements; a different set of human beings whose disability subjects them to isolation. Of course, the portrayal was simply reflecting the social attitudes of the time, and these began to change during the 1980s when mainstream society became more inclusive. K. Viswanath helped in shaping the way disability was viewed in India with this film.

Swathi Muthyam (1986)

Cast: Kamal Haasan, Raadhika Sarathkumar

It’s a  film about people who live on the fringes of our society. The film was a strong attempt at normalizing autism.

Swarnakamalam (1988)

Cast: Venkatesh, Bhanupriya, Sharon Lowen, Sakshi Ranga Rao

The film is an honest effort towards celebrating the tradition of Indian classical dance. Bhanupriya was absolutely graceful as the skeptical, yet talented protagonist.

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