Remembering V. Shantaram on his 115th birth anniversary.
Shantaram Rajaram Vankudre (18 November 1901–30 October 1990), referred to as V. Shantaram, was a filmmaker, film producer and actor. He is most known for his films like Dr. Kotnis Ki Amar Kahani (1946), Amar Bhoopali (1951), Jhanak Jhanak Payal Baaje (1955), Do Aankhen Barah Haath (1957), Navrang (1959), Duniya Na Mane (1937), Pinjra (1972), Chani, Iye Marathiche Nagari and Zunj.
He directed his first film, Netaji Palkar, in 1927. In 1929, he founded the Prabhat Film Company along with Vishnupant Damle, K.R. Dhaiber, S. Fatelal and S.B. Kulkarni, which made Ayodhyecha Raja, the first Marathi language film in 1932 under his direction. He left Prabhat in 1942 to form “Rajkamal Kalamandir” in Mumbai. In time, ‘Rajkamal’ became one of the most sophisticated studios of the country.
He was praised by Charlie Chaplin for his Marathi film Manoos. Chaplin reportedly liked the film very much.
V. Shantaram started his film career doing odd jobs in Maharashtra Film Co. owned by Baburao Painter at Kolhapur. He went on to debut as an actor in the silent film, Surekha Haran in 1921.
Shantaram, fondly known as Annasaheb, had an illustrious career as a filmmaker for almost six decades. He was one of the early filmmakers to realize the efficacy of the film medium as an instrument of social change and used it successfully to advocate humanism on one hand and expose bigotry and injustice on the other. V. Shantaram had a very keen interest in music. It is said that he “ghost wrote” music for many of his music directors, and took a very active part in the creation of music. Some of his songs had to rehearsed several times before which they were approved by V. Shantaram.
The Dadasaheb Phalke Award was conferred on him in 1985. He was awarded the Padma Vibhushan in 1992.
His autobiography Shantarama was published in Hindi and Marathi.
Shantaram died on 30 October 1990 in Mumbai. The V. Shantaram Award was constituted by Central Government and Maharashtra State Government. The V. Shantaram Motion Picture Scientific Research and Cultural Foundation, established in 1993, offers various awards to film makers. The award is presented annually on 18 November. A postage stamp, bearing his face, was released by India Post to honour him on 17 November 2001.