There have been a very few filmmakers in India who can be compared with V. Shantaram. With a directional career of about 70 years from 1927 (Netaji Palkar)to 1986 (Jhanjhar), he a one-of-his-own-kind Legend.
This great producer-director-actor is most known for his films like Dr Kotnis Ki Amar Kahani (1946), Amar Bhoopali (1951), Jhanak Jhanak Payal Baje (1955), Do Aankhen Barah Haath (1957) and Navrang (1959), to the path breaking Duniya Na Mane (1937) and Pinjara (1973). Who hasn’t been moved by Ai malik tere bande hum in Do Ankhen Barah Haath? And who can forget the sinuous, gravity-defying dances of Sandhya in Navrang and Jhanak Jhanak Payal Baaje? And Aadmi, the remake of what is arguably his finest film, Manoos, where he used nights and shadows to enhance the narration, a pioneering technique at the time. He has depicted the rich Indian art, culture and values like none other.
I’m strongly reminded of a holi song from Navrang because of its amazing editing sequences. This song reminds me of my childhood Sunday mornings watching Rangoli. One thing notable about Sandhyaji’s dance is how she depicts a shy girl and immediately transforms into a rather rowdy man. Later the steps performed with the elephant in scene is amazingly brave of her. Today’s actresses like Katrina Kaif can’t even change their facial expressions. Dancing front and back, changing the entire body language with an elephant dancing beside you is too much to expect.
The kind of film making techniques and ideas he possessed during his time are rare in today’s generation. He has his own place in the history of Indian cinema and is an inspiration for many. He was a filmmaker loved by likes of Godard & Charlie Chaplin. He was a doyen whose techniques and imagination knew no bounds.