Veteran filmmaker and actor Kasinathuni Viswanath on Monday was announced the recipient of the Dadasaheb Phalke Award for 2016 for his contribution to Indian cinema. He will be presented with the award, which also includes a cash prize of Rs 10 lakh and a shawl, at a ceremony on May 3 at Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi.
Viswanath’s stress on classicism in his films had earned him the title of “Kala Thapasvi”, which means a devotee of the arts. “Compliments to ‘Kalatapasvi’ K Viswanath for being conferred the Dadasaheb Phalke Award for 2016,” Union minister Venkaiah Naidu tweeted on Monday.
The 87-year-old had started out as a sound engineer before he went on to assist filmmakers such as Adurthi Subba Rao and Ramnoth. His debut film Aatma Gowravam, starring Akkineni Nageswara Rao, had won the Nandi Award for the Best Feature Film in 1965. Since then, Viswanath has directed more than 50 films in Telugu, Tamil and Hindi. His successful Telugu movie Siri Siri Muvva had been remade in Hindi – Sargam had released in 1979 starring Jaya Prada and Rishi Kapoor. His other well-known Bollywood films were Kaamchor, Jaag Utha Insan and Eeshwar.
Viswanath has six National Awards and 20 Nandi Awards to his credit, among other major film honours. He was felicitated with the Padma Shri in 1992 for his contribution in the world of cinema. In 1987, his film Swati Mutyam was nominated in the Best Foreign Film category at the 59th Academy Awards. His most popular movie Sankarabharanam had won an award at France’s Besancon Film Festival in 1981.
In 1995, he made his acting debut in Telugu film Subha Sankalpam. Viswanath was also seen in Tamil films such as Kakkai Siraginilae, Pudhiya Geethai, Yaaradi Nee Mohini and Uttama Villain.