Many are aware of the V Shantaram award that is conferred upon revered filmmakers of our country. But how many of us know the man behind the award named after him? Not many, I’m sure. The V Shantaram biography is awe-inspiring and an eye-opener to all those who read about this great man. Let’s take a look at the illustrious career and life of the man who has more feathers than his cap can hold.
V Shantaram was born as Shantaram Rajaram Vankudre on November 18, 1901. Fondly remembered as Shantaram Bapu or Annasaheb, he belonged to a Jain family residing in Kolhapur and thus, was heavily influenced by the Maharashtrian culture. He was an Indian filmmaker, Film Producer, Film Actor and Screenwriter who was a well-known figure both in Bollywood and Marathi Cinema.
He had a keen sense of films and a sensitive imagination when it came to Indian cinema. Being a feminist, he stayed true to this even while portraying the women he displayed on the screen and to those he was with in real life. He had figured early on that films were the best medium of media to influence societal values and create awareness amongst its viewers in the right way.
This is primarily, why his movies stood out for his films brought forth with them the originality and passion for human values. He made his mark right from the time black and white films to silent movies and then bringing India its first colour movie.
The V Shantaram Biography, as well as autobiography, was penned by his daughter Madhura Jasraj after close discussions with her father.
As a teenager, V Shantaram did odd jobs like railroad repairs and maintenance work. When he turned 16, to support his meagre wages, he took up a job a local tin-shed cinema where he did everything ranging from painting signs to ushering people in, all for Rs. 5 Per month.
Films were only then becoming a new and exciting medium, and pioneers like Dadasaheb Phalke had begun experimenting his way using mythological themes. The young V Shantaram admired Phalke and became an avid film viewer watching even western films with great interest.
Soon, Shantaram began assisting Baburao Painter, the famous director and sculptor, at the Maharashtra Film Company in Kolhapur. Here he learned the craft of filmmaking and did everything from acting to production to working as a lab assistant. Just four years later, in 1921, he found himself debuting on the same silver screen as an actor in the silent film, Surekha Haran.
He played the role of a young farmer in Painter’s film ‘Savkari Pash’ and directed his first film ‘Netaji Palkar’ in 1927. He also found the Prabhat Film Company in 1929 along with Vishnupant Damle K.R.Dhaiber and S. Fatelal. He left this to later form the Rajkamal Kalamandir in 1942. This was one of the most sophisticated studios of its time.
Some of his best work includes Surang, Toofan aur Diya, StreeAadmi, Dharmatma, Manoos, Padosi and much more. His more popular works are Dr. Kotnis ki Amar Kahani (1946), Amar Bhoopali (1951), Jhanak Jhanak Payal Baaje (1955), Do Aankhen Baara Haath (1957), Navarang (1959), Duniya Na Maane (1937) and Pinjra (1972).
He has created a wide variety of films in Hindi, Marathi and Tamil in the next three decades following the creation of Prabhat Film Company. The V Shantaram biopic speaks exclusively of the kind of work done by him in his career spanning six decades. Charlie Chaplin too has praised him for his film Manoos which he thoroughly enjoyed watching.
Apart from films he also had a sense and interest in music which many say he used to “ghostwrite” for many of the music directors. He also played an active role in the music being given in his films, and they had to be worked on again and again before V Shantaram approved it.
A “muse” is generally interchangeably used with “mistress” whenever required. But Shantaram refused to hide behind such chauvinistic terms and owned up to every relationship he was involved in throughout his life. When he was 20, he was married to a 12-year-old Vimal a girl of his community and similar background.
Their marriage lasted their entire lives with mutual respect and harmony encompassing his other two unions to actresses Jayshree and Sandhya. Vimlabai gave birth to four children-son, Prabhat Kumar and daughters Saroj, Madhura and Charusheela.
V Shantaram had named his film company on his son Prabhat, his second daughter Madhura is married to Pandit Jasraj and has written the V Shantaram biography- The Man Who Changed Indian Cinema whereas Charusheela is the mother of the Hindi and Marathi actor Sushant Ray a.k.a Siddharth Ray.
V Shantaram was a handsome man, and so women took to him quickly. When he had taken his first colour film Sairandhri (1933) to UFO Studios in Germany to process and print, his assistant there named Jenny fell in love with him. However, he did not reciprocate the same.
On October 22, 1941, he married actress Jayshree with whom he fell in love with while working on several films. They had three children namely-Kiran Shantaram, Tejashree and Rajashree. In spite of being married to Jayashree, he made sure that children from his earlier marriage received his time daily without fail. Later, when Vimlabai fell ill, and there were parties at home, Jayashree played host to them.
But this marriage was dissolved soon after that on November 13, 1956, and he married Sandhya on December 22 that same year. But the truth remains that he was never able to forget Jayashree. Since he had had an operation after his marriage to Jayashree is why Sandhya And V Shantaram could not have children.
She loved and adored Shantaram’s other children just as much as she would have loved her own. Once, when he happened to vomit, it was Sandhya who collected it in her own hands. His children admitted that even they would not have been able to do this for their father.
He never misused women whether it is while portraying them in films or being involved with them in real. He believed in giving them the honour and respect they deserved by sharing with them his status and name.
V Shantaram died on October 30, 1990, in Mumbai. He was survived by all three of his wives. Even his second wife Jayashree who was divorced from him attended his funeral, participated in the rituals, and took to wearing the garb of a widow thereafter showing that their divorce was only subjected to a piece of paper. Vimlabai, who was bed ridden for four years after his demise, passed away in 1996. Sandhyaji is now 82 and resides with Prabhat and his family leading a quiet life.
Awards and Recognition
V Shantaram was presented a host of awards throughout his career for his extraordinary work in the field of cinema. The standouts, however, are the Dadasaheb Phalke award in 1985 for his contribution to the Indian Cinema. He was also awarded the Padma Vibhushan award posthumously in 1992.
The V Shantaram award is presented every year on his birthday November 18 to the filmmaker with exemplary work in Indian Cinema.
His autobiography was written by his daughter Madhura in 1989 and was released in both Hindi and Marathi as also the V Shantaram biography was written by her.