Friday Review

He leaves behind a path of thought

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Director, actor and singer KSL Swamy who passed away recently made few films, but left an indelible mark with his unique perspective.

“It is better to exit this mortal world making an indelible impression in the minds of people. They have to feel our absence, and not heave a sigh of relief after our death.”

This is what K.S.L. Swamy, director, producer, actor and singer, who passed away recently told this writer years ago. Ravee, as he was popularly known, belonged to the tradition of G.V. Iyer, M.R. Vittal, Kanagal Prabhakara Shastry and Puttanna Kanagal and lived as per his beliefs. Those closely associated with him in the film industry feel that Swamy was another name for humanness. Everyone in the Kannada film industry used to take recourse in him whenever they were in crisis.

He was a witness to many memorable as well as unpleasant things in the Kannada cinema industry. He believed in nurturing young and new talent throughout his life. Swamy was the one who introduced Toogudeepa Srinivas, Srinath, Gangadhar, Prabhakar and Prakash Rai.

Failures never deterred him. He was an exception to the popular belief that those who succeed will only survive in the film industry. Even though his films saw moderate success in box office, he made as many as 37 films and left behind some ambitious projects. Swamy once admitted that, “I never saw huge success in my career, but never opted for mediocre strategies to get there. When my debut film Toogudeepa (1966) was released, the audience felt that another sensitive filmmaker had arrived on the scene.”

Swamy made Mankudinne to bring a smile on the face of his audience. But the film did not bring a smile to the producer. Though the fate of his subsequent film Lagnapatrike was no different, it introduced a new pair of comedians — Chi. Udayashankar and Shivaram. The song ‘Balu Aparoopa Namjody’ was a huge hit. Swamy always used to think beyond time and Gandhi Nagar starring Rajkumar was testimony.

Bhagyada Bagilu, was a milestone, and also the 100th film of Rajkumar. A huge function was organised to mark the occasion and over 50,000 people had assembled in Kanteerava stadium to witness the event.

When Dwarakish wanted to become a hero inspired by a Hollywood film, it was Swamy, who directed Kulla Agent 000 — an adventurous comedy. Jyothilakshmi, who scorched the scenes till then with her cabaret, played the female lead. ‘ Aaadu Aata Aadu’, a song sung by iconic playback singer Kishore Kumar was still a craze among the cine-goers.

Fascinated by the power the director wields in a film, he always wanted to hold a megaphone, knowing fully well the risks involved. In fact, he joined as an assistant to G.V. Iyer for this very reason.

Swamy was the first one to experiment in a commercial framework with films such as Aaru Mooru Ombattu (1970). He was completely conversant with film making techniques. Because of his long association with Puttanna Kanagal, he completed the Savira Mettilu and Masanada Hoovu, based on Ta.Ra. Su’s novel, which Kanagal left halfway.

Without limiting himself to modern films with a social message, Swamy tried his hand in commercial bond movies such as Kulla Agent 000 and CID-72. He even made a mythological like Sri Krishna Rukmini Satyabhama. Of his 37 films Bhagya Jyothi, Aluku, Maleyamaaruta, Mithileya Seetheyaru, Harakeya Kuri, Huli Hejje, Arisina Kumkuma, and Anna Tamma are still being remembered for their content and quality.

Swamy’s film Bhagya Jyothi succeeded in getting the tax-free benefit, but since it addressed the caste system, Brahmins expressed discontentment over the way the community was portrayed in the film.

His Matte Vasanta starring Sri Priya dealt with the issue of women exploitation. Mithileya Seetheyaru is one of his landmark films, which announced the entry of the talented multifaceted actor, Prakash Rai.

Swamy’s Malayamaaruta impressed the audience through its music, even though it was criticised for propagating superstition. Of the 15 songs, 11 have been sung by K.J. Yesudas and he got the Karnataka State Film Award for the Best Male Playback singer in 1986. The film was screened in the mainstream section of the International Film Festival of India in 1986. The film fetched the prestigious Sur Srungar award for Vijayabhaskar

Swamy’s film Jamboo Savari won the National Award for Best Children’s Film in 1989. He has the credit of directing the 100th film of both Dr. Rajkumar (Bhagyada Bagilu) and Dr. Bharati Vishnuvardhan (Bhagyajyothi).

Suryangu Chandrangu Bandare Munisu, Baligondu Neeti Untu and Ille Swarga Ille Naraka sung by him for Shubha Mangala, Hennu Samsarada Kannu, and Nagarahole, besides four songs for Bettada Gouri are still green in the minds of Kannada cine goers.

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Printable version | Jan 24, 2020 10:52:26 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/he-leaves-behind-a-path-of-thought/article7818357.ece

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