V Shantaram


Best films:
6.5 Amar Jyoti/ The Immortal Song (1936)
6.8 Kunku (1937)
6.6 Manoos (1939)
6.4 Shejari/ Padosi (1941)
6.8 Dr Kotnis Ki Amar Kahani/ The Eternal Tale of Dr Kotnis (1946)
6.5 Amar Bhoopali/ The Immortal Song (1951)
6.5 Jhanak Jhanak Payal Baaje (1955)
6.8 Do Aankhen Barah Haath/ Two Eyes Twelve Hands (1957)
6.5 Pinjra (1972)
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V. Shantaram (India, 1901), aka Shantaram Vankudre (1901), aka Shantaram Bapu, who as a teenager joined the Maharashtra Film Company and was the lead actor in Baburao Painter's early realist classic Savkari Pash/ Indian Shylock (1925), debuted as director with the silent biopic Netaji Palkar (1927), and then founded his own Prabhat Film Company in Kolhapur (Maharashtra state) for which he made: the silent religious movie Gopal Krishna (1929) and Swarajyacha Toran/ Udaykal (1930). Then came three films co-directed with Kaishavrao Dhaiber: Rani Saheba/ Bazarbattu (1930), possibly India's first children's movie the costume drama Khooni Khanjar/ Fighting Blade (1930), and Chandrasena (1931), their last silent movie. The company created its own studios in Pune in 1932.

He made the first Marathi talkie, Ayodhiyecha Raja/ The King of Ayodhya (1932), which starred his cousin Master Vinayak, based on the legend of Raja Harishchandra of Ayodhya and starring Master Vinayak, a film which also pioneered the practice of making a film in multiple languages so it could be distributed in multiple Indian states,

Agnikankan/ Jalti Nishani/ The Branded Oath (1932), was released both in Marathi and Hindi, and so were Maya Machhindra (1932), Sairandhri (1933, lost), a remake of Baburao Painter's Sairandhari (1920) and India's first color film, all starring Master Vinayak. Meanwhile, in 1933 the Prabhat Film Company had moved from Kolhapur to Pune. Bilingual were also the costume drama Amrit Manthan/ Churning for Nectar (1934) was based on Narayan Hari Apte's novel "Bhagyashree", and the religious biopics Dharmatma/ The Holy Soul (1935) and Sant Tukaram (1936).

He began to focus on the empowerment of women with an odd Marathi musical, scored by Krishnaji Phulambrikar (better known as "Master Krishnarao"), about a female pirate who fights against male abuses: Amar Jyoti/ The Immortal Song (1936). He turned to social protest with the daring Kunku/ Duniya na Mane (1937), based on Narayan Hari Apte's novel "Na Patnari Goshta" and again released in both Marathi and Hindi, a "je accuse" against child marriage and the condition of women, and with Shejari/ Padosi (1941), also released in both languages. In between he directed the melodrama Manoos/ Aadmi/ Life's for Living (1939), released in both languages. In 1942 he bought Wadia Movietone and established a new production company in Mumbai, Rajkamal Kalamandir, and made the Hindi costume drama Shakuntala (1943), an adaptation of Kalidas' Sanskrit play "Shakuntala" that was a big hit, and the biopic Dr Kotnis Ki Amar Kahani/ The Eternal Tale of Dr Kotnis (1946), written in Hindustani by Khwaja Abbas and scored by Vasant Desai, which is one of his best. After the Marathi biopic Lokshahir Ram Joshi/ People's Poet Ram Joshi (1947) he directed two family dramas in Hindi: Apna Desh/ Our Country (1949) and Dahej/ Dowry (1952).

Following Amar Bhoopali/ The Immortal Song (1951) in Marathi, a fable written by written by Vishram Bedekar and set in the 19th century, he turned to Hindi for more than a decade: the comedy Teen Batti Char Raasta/ Three Lights & Four Streets (1953), the proletarian drama Surang/ Mine (1953), the romantic tragedy Subah Ka Tara/ The Morning Star (1954).

Two of his best films were made at this time: the dance movie Jhanak Jhanak Payal Baaje (1955) in Hindi, an early Technicolor film that became a blockbuster (with music by Vasant Desai), and the psychological melodrama Do Aankhen Barah Haath/ Two Eyes Twelve Hands (1957), again scored by Vasant Desai.

Then came: the dance movie Navrang (1959), scored by Ramchandra Chitalkar (C Ramchandra), Stree (1961), yet another adaptation of Kalidasa's play "Shakuntala", Sehra/ Desert (1963), Geet Gaya Patharon Ne/ The Rocks Sang a Melody (1964), the bilingual Ladki Sahyadri Ki/ Girl From Sahyadri (1966), Boond Jo Ban Gayee Moti/ The Raindrop that Became a Pearl (1967), Jal Bin Machhli Nritya Bin Bijli/ Fish without Water Lightning without Dance (1971), the bilingual Pinjara (1972), possibly the best of this late stage, about Maharashtra state's traditional "tamasha" theater, and Jhanjhaar/ Fire (1987), his last film.

He died in 1990, survived by three wives. He had married in 1921 a 12-year-old girl the first of several wives before polygamy was banned in India.

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