Thursday, November 7, 2013

ShankarNag's Janmotsava :Nov 8th 2013

It is almost Twenty Five Years since the Karate king of Sandalwood, a maverick film maker, theatre artist, Shankar Nag died in a road accident near Davanagere. Known for his visionary cinemas, technical skills, Shankar was nothing but a gift to not just the Sandalwood, but for the entire nation too. While the people from South India remembers him for his epic movies like Minchina Ota, Ondanondu Kaladalli, Ondu Muttina Kathe, Geetha, Accident and Nodi Swami Navirodu Heege, people from North India remembers him for his brilliant performace in Utsav, Ankur, Nishant etc.

Last week, while passing through the same stretch near Davanagere where Shankar met with the tragic end, memories of his films started popping up. Hailing from a remote hamlet of Mallapur village in Honavar taluk of Uttara Kannada district, Shankar was fluent in Kannada, Konkani and Martahi. In fact he started his career with Marathi theatre in Mumbai. However, Shankar’s stint with the success started when his elder brother Ananth Nag brought him back to Bangalore.

Continuing with his passionate theatrical activities, Shankar rose to national level after his brilliant performance in Girish Karnad’s epic movie Ondanondu Kaaladalli (Once upon a time)an adoptation of Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai,. Displaying his acting skills while donning the lead role of a mercenary, Shankar won the best actor award at the New Delhi International Film Festival. Not confining his talent just to the parallel cinema medium, Shankar went on to do mass oriented masala movies which earned him the sobriquet – Karate King. His role of an auto driver in the Auto Raja, portraying the humbleness of autowalas, made him popular among the mass and several auto stands till today have been named after him.
When television media was making inroads into the household of every Indian, Shankar cast his spell there also. R K Narayan’s Malgudi Days was testimonial to Shankar’s oeuvre on small screen. Besides the serial’s impish character ‘Swami’, the title music composed by L Vaidyanathan through nasal twang, is a huge hit till today. While doing his best to the medium that shot him to the fame, Shankar and his wife Arundhati Nag set up Sanket, an amateur theatre group. The troupe was instrumental in bringing historic plays like Nagamandala, Anju Mallige by Girish Karnad onto stage.
But for a genius who could have earned many laurels for Karnataka, fate had something different in store. On his way to the sets of his movie Jokumara Swamy, directed by Girish Karnad, Shankar met with an accident and died on the spot. Nevertheless, every movie buffs, theatre enthusiasts remember Shankar and his contributions

Listen to ShankarNag's Last Interview Part-1 (On AIR: Vivid Bharti)

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