This year is the centenary year of Boodgur Ramakrishna Panthulu a doyen of Indian cinema. Better known as BR Panthulu, the marvel was an actor, a producer and a director all in one. Though BR Panthalu contributed immensely to the entire south Indian cinema it is only the Kannada Chalanachitra Academy (KCA) is celebrating the 100th year of the legend with a year long celebrations.
At the same time BR Panthulu's contributions to Tamil cinema are also no less to others. He started his career as an actor but son learned the art of cinema thoroughly and emerge as a successful producer, director.
Some of the immortal films of the greats like MGR and Sivaji came out of the brain of BR Panthulu. His first tryst with the legends started in 1957 for the film Thangamalai Rahasiyam. The bond he developed with Sivaji gave us some of the most memorable films like Sabash Meena, Veerapandiya Kattabomman, Kappalottiya Thamizhan, Bale Pandiya, Karnan and Murudan Muthu.
Veerapandiya Kattabomman was a reinvention of sorts and the film fetched Sivaji Ganesan and music director G Ramanathan the best actor and best music director awards at the Afro-Asian Film Festival in 1959. Former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was so moved by Kappalotiya Thamizhan that the iron lady ordered permanent tax-free status to the film. Past legends were brought to life in Panthulu films. We never knew how Kattabomman, VO Chidambaram or Karnan would have looked. But BR Panthulu created an impression that they would have possibly looked like what he showed in his films. Proving that would be this fact. When a life size statue of Veerapandiya Kattabomman was erected at Kayatharu (the place were Kattabomman was hanged by the British) the statue was medelled on Sivaji Ganesan performed character in the film.
Later BR Panthalu had to part ways with Sivaji to make another legendary combo in Tamil cinema. BR Panthulu joined with MGR and gave hit after hit with films like Aayirathil Oruvan, Nadodi, Rahasiya Police 115 and Thedi Vandha Mappillai.
It was BR Panthulu who introduced Jayalalitha to cinema. She was first introduced in Kannada film 'Chinnada Gombe' directed by BR Panthulu. Later when he started his first film with MGR he brought Jayalalitha to Tamil with Aayirathil Oruvan. Ironically when a new legendary pair of MGR-Jayalaliths was created in Ayirathil Oruvan, the film was the last film of the legendary duo Viswanathan-Ramamoorthy. PR Panthalu also introduced Bhrathi (Vishnuvardha) to Tamil cinema with Nadodi opposite MGR.
BR Panthulu was active until 1973 and the golden era came to an end in 1974. PR Panthulu passed away in 1974 but his films are still proving gold mines. His films may be few but all his films are landmark films in Tamil cinema and its our duty to recognize the legend.
The KCA has organised a BR Panthulu film festival where his 19 of his films will be screened. A book on Panthulu is also being released.
At the launch of the year long celebrations, BR Panthulu's daughter BR Vijayalakshmi handed over the script of the movie Shri Krishnadevaraya, which is one of his important movies. BR Panthulu's daughter BR Vijayalakshmi is Asia's first woman cinematographer. She was launched as an independent cinematographer by K. Bhagyaraj in his film 'Chinna Veedu'.