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Music - chosen path of Viswanath

- Photo: C.V. Subrahmanyam

Film director K. Viswanath being felicitated by Dr. I. Venkat Rao (left) and Sadguru K. Sivananda Murthy (right) in Visakhapatnam recently.

Although his directorial debut film was 'Atma Gauravam', recognition and fame gushed into his life with the musical magnum opus, 'Sankarabharanam', a film that changed young lives, creating a new interest in classical music for the unfamiliar.

'Sankarabharanam' made an indelible mark in the annals of Telugu cinema and K. Viswanath became a name commanding reverence and admiration.

In the wake of admiration, also came an expectation. People thronged cinema halls to find sustained tradition and sublimated relationships in his movies. And Viswanath delivered. They went home, sang 'Dorakuna ituvanti seva' to their elders and romped with the youngsters to the rhythm of 'Thakita tandana' - the songs blended with values and values merged with the maker of the song.

This kind of recognition brings an immense responsibility to the person. Viswanath bore the burden with natural ease and carried on his work through the ensuing decades. One knew that good Telugu cinema had come to stay.

When this scribe sought an interview with the 'Kalatapasvi' during his recent visit to Visakhapatnam, "How much time do you need?" was his starting query.

"May be a few minutes..."

But then, the tete-a-tete prolonged, as the focus of the interview was on 'Swarabhishekam', his latest directorial venture.

"The film is definitely not for the mobs," he said emphatically. "My producer Kowsalendra Rao gave full freedom to say whatever I wished to say through the movie. So I chose music, yet again. Music is therapy; music is a panacea to all ailments, a remedy, by itself."

One has to agree, be it a pregnant woman who has benefited from a soothing melody to anaesthetise and postpone labour or the repentant younger brother who regains the lost vocal expression when the elder brother transmits love in the form of a rejuvenating song - the message was clear in 'Swarabishekam'. Music it was for every occasion, for every soul.

"At the same time," Viswanath continued, "I don't think I made a 'kavyam' or 'prabandham'. It is just a good movie, which materialised as a result of the financial support of my producer who came forward with full trust in my capabilities. There were absolutely no curbs, no restraints. I had full rein over my subject and offered it to today's people. They can draw what they want from it. Treatment of the main theme of music remains mine: that is all. The topic being close to my heart, I shall never tire of dealing with it again and again, expressing my love for music in every angle, in depth."

He was not interested in telling it any other way or adopt other themes to express the values told in the film, that of two brothers whose love and attachment to each other bordered on the 'Ramayana'. "There are other film makers who will deal differently with the same subject, perhaps. Let them. This was my chosen path I adhered to it."

Would the ace director make more movies with the same texture?

"No. I have no such intention or inclination any more. This statement is not a camouflage on the lack of producers or audiences. I have reluctantly accepted this offer after a long gap, quite under duress, you can say. I didn't run after producers consciously."

And the mixed response?

"I was open to a good critique, 'sadvimarsa', which came plentifold from a cross section of society. I also tried to answer genuine questions to the best of my knowledge. Still what could one reply when asked, why this opulence, why such a rich home?"

How would you respond, anyway?

"It is just there, that's all. Don't we all have an individual taste in decorating our homes? This was mine. My idea of richness, so... !"

The small gap in his teeth flashed in the grin.

Goaded by the intimacy of the manner, I asked "Will you direct a story on a spiritual subject, if the nitty-gritty is taken care of?"

"No, I will not. And my advice is not to plan a venture of that sort. You will never recover from the impact of the loss. Do some commercial stuff instead."

The sribe did not fail to perceive the difficult-to-conceal agony writ on his face, while departing from the presence of that magna-man.

SUGAN

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