Chalanachitra academy and Saregama's 3-CD set captures a golden era

Had he lived, Budaguru Ramakrishnaiah Panthulu, director, producer and actor, who carved a niche for himself in the history of Indian cinema, would have turned 100 now. Through his landmark films, he left indelible memories for film audiences. Besides Kannada, he also made films in Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Hindi.

Unforgettable songs

His films, most of which are considered classics, also had some unforgettable songs. The Karnataka Chalanachitra Academy, which is celebrating the Panthulu centenary, is releasing three compact discs of songs from Kannada films directed by him, in association with Saregama on Thursday at Badami House.

B. Saroja Devi, who starred as Kittur Chennamma in his eponymous film, Bharathi Vishnuvardhan, who acted in Krishnadevaraya, and actor Puneeth Rajkumar will be chief guests on the occasion.

From his early beginnings on the stage, Panthulu painstakingly built himself a cinematic career and was often compared to Cecil B. DeMille, one of the most successful and extravagant filmmakers in Hollywood.

Initially he worked with great masters of south Indian cinema such as H.L.N. Simha, T.R. Mahalingam, P. Pullaiah and P. Neelakantan.

Best film

His first directorial venture was Rathnagiri Rahasya, a hit. He made some spectacular period films with Sivaji Ganesan such as Veerapandiya Kattabomman, adjudged best film at the Afro-Asian Film Festival at Cairo. He also made some films with the charismatic M.G. Ramachandran in lead.

This pioneer made significant contribution to Kannada films. He introduced the unparalleled Kalpana while his Kitturu Chennamma and Sri Krishnadevaraya are landmarks in the industry, both winning State and national honours.

When the State Government adjudged him the best actor for Thimmarasa's role in Sri Krishnadevaraya, he modestly turned it down saying the award must go to Rajkumar for the electrifying lead role.

Speaking to The Hindu, Panthulu's daughter B.R. Vijayalakshmi (Asia's first woman cinematographer) said the CDs are a tribute to her father's centenary.

They contain 55 songs from 24 of the 27 Kannada films he directed.

“The CDs will transport music lovers to the golden age of melodies,” Ms. Vijayalakshmi said.