In his passing, India has lost a great storyteller and filmmaker and a warm soul
Kasinathuni Viswanath was not just the most successful and influential Telugu film director ever but an auteur whose love for the classic was so great that he harnessed films to script a mini-renaissance for Telugu language and Carnatic music.
Having lived a fulfilling life for 92 years, his accomplishments as a versatile artist have firmly imprinted his name as one of the contemporary greats of Telugu language and arts.
Honours like the Dadasaheb Phalke Award, the “Prize of the Public” at the Besançon Film Festival of France, the Padma Shri or an honorary doctorate from the Potti Sreeramullu Telugu University, besides five National Film Awards and seven state Nandi Awards, among others, only affirmed what the audiences of his movies had already bestowed on him — respect, admiration and love.
As a film director, screenwriter and prolific actor, in his career of over six decades, Viswanath scripted an era in which all differences between commercial and parallel films disappeared. In the over 50 films he directed, he boldly tackled themes and issues far ahead of their time — caste and gender discrimination, disability, patriarchy and social reform.
His greatest work, Shankarabharanam, an epic musical, will unimpeachably find its place not only as one of the greatest ever Telugu films made, but amongst the best of Indian cinema. His other great films have not only left audiences dazzled and fashioned a comeback for the classical performing arts but have also led to such social impact and reform that no filmmaker can match.
In his passing, India has lost a great storyteller and filmmaker and a warm soul.