Sri K. Viswanath used to direct Telugu Movies with a difference. While clearly coming out against caste differences (Sankarabharanam) and promoting inter-caste marriages (Saptapadi)., he focussed on bringing out what was good in brahminism. He also came out very clearly against unfair gender practices such as dowry system (subhalekha).
This was against the current in a time when brahmins are ridiculed in Telugu cinema, berated by communist historians and writers, paying the guilt penalty for the social crime allegedly perpetrated by their ancestors and generally having to swim against the ‘reservation current’ etc in daily outside life. (see Brahmans Then and Brahmins Now.)
This being the context, Sri K. Viswanath directed a set of movies in which he holds the divine ideals of the ‘true’ brahmins very high and portrays them in great good light. The devotion to divinity and divine music, classical music as divinity (sankarabharanam), classical dance as divinity (sagarasangamam, swarna kamalam), the neglect of the vedic scholars such as ghanapatins (swarna kamalam).
I can never be the “seen but never heard” traditional heroine of a K. Viswanath movie, and I won’t say that I did not resent his making the ideal woman so unattainable by real women.
But I would like to express my gratitude to him, for influencing me in the brahmin ideals of vedic knowledge, carnatic music and classical dance, for emphasising the importance of bhava in singing carnatic music and bharata natyam.
For highlighting the wonderful essence while casting off what was irrelevant as well what was the clearly wrong.
For showing us that brahminism is in the ideal.
Jai K. Viswanath.
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