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Updated: April 7, 2014 23:24 IST

A gentleman and a master of visuals

Bageshree S.
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Murthy immortalised the image of Guru Dutt and Waheeda Rehman in Pyasa.
Murthy immortalised the image of Guru Dutt and Waheeda Rehman in Pyasa.

V.K. Murthy brought ‘magic to images’

Jayant Kaikini describes cinematographer V.K. Murthy, who passed away on Monday, as a “visionary.” After all, he showed his audience “not just visuals but visions” through his sensitive work in the black-and-white masterpieces of Guru Dutt, says the poet and lyricist.

Mr. Kaikini was among the handful of people from the Kannada film industry gathered at Mr. Murthy’s old house at Shankarapuram in south Bangalore to pay their last respects on Monday afternoon to the stalwart cinematographer.

Simplicity personified

Mr. Murthy, recipient of the Dadasaheb Phalke Award, was not a man to flaunt his achievements, and his passing away at the ripe old age of 91 did not quite hit television headlines the way most news related to film personalities do.

“He had a simplicity about him that belied his association with filmdom,” recalls Uma Rao, author of his biography, Bisilu Kolu.

“Murthy taught a generation the grammar of visual depiction,” says Mr. Kaikini. “The contrast between the picturisation of a lyrical Aaj sajan mujhe ang lagao and the prose-like Jinhen naaz hai Hind par is testimony to his mastery,” he says. Filmmaker Girish Kasaravalli describes Murthy as a man who brought “magic to his images.” A particularly fascinating feature of his work, he adds, was the way he could switch from “heightened realism to stylised imaging” in his lighting when he moved from narration to a song.

Filmmaker Rajendra Singh Babu, closely associated with Mr. Murthy for 40 years, regrets that Karnataka ignored Mr. Murthy despite his sterling achievements. “We had a lot to learn from him, but unfortunately we didn’t,” he rues.

Fond memories

People who came to pay their last respects had fond memories of Mr. Murthy as an affable gentleman.

Mr. Kasaravalli describes him as a “typical Old Mysorean” who spoke little, but was always open-minded and helpful to those younger to him. Dr. Sucharita, Mr. Murthy’s niece , described him as “a quiet man who loved having people around.” He was “Kutti uncle” to many like her and loved simple things in life: hot rice with rasam, curd rice and steaming cups of coffee.

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