Ramgopal Varma on K. Vishwanath – Respectful Disrespect
Shankarabharanam released when I was in Engineering college and there used to be an almost a temple kind of an atmosphere in the theaters where it was running. In my college campus everyone used to speak in hushed respectful voices about its Director K. Vishwanath.
One day in those days I was singing a song from that film in my hostel room when a guy from a neighbouring room angrily shouted at me for disturbing the sanctity of that song with my totally off tune singing and bad voice. He wouldn’t have reacted like that if I was singing a regular commercial song off tune. That was the kind of impact K. Vishwanath had on the audience with his Shankarabharanam. There were so many felicitations for him at that time which included touching his feet to putting shawls around him to almost praying to him. Though he did many good films even before Shankarabharanam that was the film which brought him a cult status.
He followed it with many more great films like Saptapadhi, Sagara Sangamam etc which we in college couldn’t wait to see and we all always had a completely different mind state when we went to see a K V film compared to let’s say a K Raghavendra Rao film or a Dasari Narayana Rao or a Kondandarami Reddy film. Some of his films did well and some not so well but I don’t consciously remember anyone ever saying his film is bad. They might have done bad at the box office and even if someone did not like his film they would just remain quiet out of respect for him.
A long time later after I did my first film Shiva, I got the Nandi Award for Best Director. And when I was staying in a hotel in Vizag awaiting the function time (The only time I attended an award function)I got to know that K V was in the next room. I was so thrilled to hear it and rushed to meet him.
There were lots of people waiting in the corridor outside his room to meet him. I waited for my turn and finally when I got to meet him and told him how much I loved his films he said “I heard about your film Shiva. I didn’t see it but I hear that you made it quite well” and he gave me a patronising pat on my back.
After that I lost touch with him completely. He was doing films off and on which were working at various levels. At a particularly very low phase in his career lyricist Sirivennala Seetha Rama Sastry came to me and said K V wants to meet me. When I asked him why, he said K V was looking for a Producer for a new script of his as by that time I have become quite a prolific Producer. I told Sastry garu that there’s no point in meeting him as I stopped producing films.
Sastry garu left and the next day he called me and told me that K V wants to come to my home to meet me. He just wants 30 minutes to tell me the story. I said I can’t meet him as I don’t have time. Sastry garu was shocked that I am saying that I don’t have time to meet K V.
He couldn’t bring himself to say the same to K V so he made some other excuse of why I couldn’t meet him and then the next day my mother came running into my room in excitement saying that K V is on the phone and asking for me. I told my mother to lie to K V and tell him that I was not at home. She was shocked and demanded to know why I am being so disrespectful to K V. I said I can’t answer that just tell him that I am not at home and you don’t know when I am coming back. She was so upset with me and thought that my success went to my head that I was being this disrespectful to none other than K V.
I knew that K V will eventually know that me stopping producing is a lie as I was continuously producing films with various directors not even anywhere comparable to his standard and also he would know that home me not being would be a bigger lie as that must be the most clichéd excuse since the invention of the telephone.
I know that the low phase of K V’s career is inevitable to everyone in their lifetime irrespective of whatever they achieved whether me or anyone else. It’s just a question of time who first and who next.
The reason I did not want to listen to his story or meet him was because I can’t say no to him out of my respect for him whereas with others I can do that. Also nothing about my actions concerning films were anywhere in the domain of such sanctity or purity as that of K V’s films. I might be making horrible films but I don’t have a taste for his kind of films.
The people I have choosen to make Directors could be stemming probably from a very personal and particular attitude of mine towards films. Read this as not taking films so seriously where as with K V he makes his films with a devotee’s passion and puts in his soul and his tremendous commitment and that would have been too difficult and hard for me to shoulder and bear.
Just a month a ago I met Music Director Manisharma and he was telling me with so much pride and respect in his eyes that he was doing a film with K V. The feeling in his eyes was very reminiscent of what I saw in many peoples eyes at the time Shankarabharanam released.
Whether I will ever seek that kind of respect for me in people’s eyes is secondary but I know for a fact that I have not achieved nor will I ever achieve the kind of respect K V achieved and I will at best just remain as a foot note in his life for respectfully disrespecting him.
Taken From Ramgopal Varma’s Blog