Legendary Filmmaker & Actor K.Vishwanath. (Twitter)
KAKINADA: Eminent cine director K. Viswanath, who breathed his last in Hyderabad late Thursday night, loved River Godavari, particularly villages and towns on it, like Kovvuru and in particular Rajamahendravaram.
Sankarabharanam, his most celebrated film, had been shot almost entirely in the erstwhile Godavari districts. He loved the districts for two reasons – one their natural beauty. The other, their soft-spoken and tradition-loving people. He waxed eloquent about the Godavari districts, describing them as "Nature’s Studio and God’s gift to humanity."
The captivating opening scenes of Viswanath classic "Sankarabharanam" had been shot with J.V. Somayajulu (Sankara Sastry) and Manju Bhargavi, the dancer, on the ghats of Godavari at Rajamahendravaram, Kovvuru, Annavaram and Ramachandrapuram.
The veteran director also depicted the Zamindari culture of those times grippingly, with the dancer raped by the Zamindar.
Viswanath developed friendship with many film personalities from East Godavari. Jit Mohan Mitra from Rajamahendravaram recalled his association with the great director. "With cine actor Ravu Gopala Rao’s intervention, I got a role in "Sarada" starring Sobhan Babu and Sarada. From then on, I acted in 21 films under Viswanath’s direction. I loved all locations in the great director’s movies. Though he has left the world, he will remain in the hearts of people through his films," Mitra observed at a condolence meeting he organised on the death of Vishwanath in Rajamahendravaram on Friday.
Sankarabharanam, Swathi Muthyam, Sarada, Sirivennela, Sirisirimuvva, Seethamahalakshmi, President Peramma, Swathi Kiranam and Shruthilayalu, among others, had all been shot on banks of River Godavari.
Recalled S.V. Appalacharyar, founder secretary of Mayura Nataka Kala Parishad based in Ramachandrapuram: "I travelled for 21 days along with Viswanath. When he dressed formally, he joked and remained jovial. Once he wore khaki dress, he appeared fully disciplined and committed to work. He never compromised until he lived the scene," Appalacharyar said remembering Viswanath and the many movies that had been shot at "Rajavari Kota’’.
Famous lyricist Sirivilli Seetharama Sastry had been working in telecom department at Kakinada when Viswanath asked him to write the lyrics for "Sirivennela". The songs captured the imagination of people to such an extent that the lyricist, from then on, came to be known as "Sirivennela" Seetharama Sastry.
Spiritual speaker Chaganti Koteswara Rao got so inspired by Sankarabharanam that he delivered a lecture on the film. People questioned him why he chose to speak at length on a commercial film. Koteswara Rao responded saying the film encompassed many facets of Indian culture, which the great director had taken to another dimension. Therefore, there is no impropriety in speaking about the subject.
The haunting song – "Godaralle-Vennetlo Godaralle" – in Siri Siri Muvva released in late 1970s has been described by film critics as Viswanath’s ode to River Godavari.