BIFFes 2024 | Remembering the prolific Vijaya Bhaskar

As a part of centenary celebrations, a panel discussion at the 15th Bengaluru International Film Festival went down memory lane to describe the greatness of Kannada music composer Vijaya Bhaskar

Updated - March 05, 2024 11:44 pm IST

Published - March 05, 2024 11:40 pm IST - Bengaluru

Participants at Bengaluru International Film Festival in Bengaluru.

Participants at Bengaluru International Film Festival in Bengaluru. | Photo Credit: File photo

What’s the connection between Clark Gable and Vijaya Bhaskar? Not many know that the music composer, known for wearing stylish suits, was often compared to the American actor, referred to as the “King of Hollywood.”

Vijaya Bhaskar’s elder daughter, Shankari Ananth, shared this trivia during a discussion at the 15th Bengaluru International Film Festival to celebrate the centenary year of the music director. Sharing the stage with her was her younger sister, Mangala Gowri, and S.R. Ramakrishna, senior journalist, author, and music composer.

Prolific composer

Having worked in over 700 movies, Vijaya Bhaskar is one of the most prolific music composers in the Indian film industry. Winner of seven Karnataka State Film Awards and two Rajyotsava Awards, his songs for Kannada films are evergreen classics. “Our father would lock himself in the room and work for hours. He would tell us not to disturb him till he finished his compositions. We missed our father’s company during our childhood, but today, we are proud to be his children,” said Shankari. 

Mangala Gowri said she cherished the time with her father at the beach while growing up in Chennai. “He was a simple man and encouraged us to listen to our heart. He would always advise us to use money responsibly,” she said. 

Versatile composer

Ramakrishna gave insights into the versatility of Vijaya Bhaskar. “He was a master at composing simple yet haunting melodies. He gave singable songs with simple orchestral music,” he observed. Sharing an anecdote from the composer, Ramakrishna said, “Vijaya Bhaskar would go from Malleshwaram to MG Road to listen to Western music. He added that Vijaya Bhaskar loved Hindustani music and loved learning the piano.

His earliest notable work came in the Dr. Rajkumar starrer Santha Thukaram (1963), with the song Jayathu Jayavitala being the most recognisable one from the movie. Vijaya Bhaskar’s prime was in the 1970s, during which he spurred the golden period of Kannada film music. A regulator collaborator with well-known filmmaker Puttanna Kanagal, his work for Nagarahaavu (1972) was pathbreaking, said Ramakrishna.

Dramatic composition

“After giving several melodies, Vijaya Bhaskar produced a dramatic composition to the hit song, Haavina Dwesha from Nagarahaavu. He even created a theme to suit the rebellious character Ramachari, essayed by Dr. Vishnuvardhan,” Ramakrishna pointed out. 

Having associated with arthouse giants, such as Adoor Gopalakrishnan and P. Lankesh, Vijaya Bhaskar was a man of immense talent, with a mastery over even the most difficult instruments that helped thrive in an era before the multi-track recording system, added Ramakrishna.

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