Shantaram Rajaram Vankudre also known as V. Shantaram, was born in Kohlapur, Maharashtra on November 18, 1901. He grew up to be a renowned director and producer. He made his debut in the Indian cinemas as a director with Netaji Palkar in 1927 and also founded the Prabhat Film Company to which the credit of making first Marathi language film Ayodhyecha Raja under his direction. He is mostly known for his films Dr. Kotnis Ki Amar Kahani (1946), Amar Bhoopali (1951), Jhanak Jhanak Payal Baaje (1955), Do Aankhen Barah Haath (1957) which bagged a Silver Bear at Berlin International film festival, Navrang (1959) and the loved Pinjra and Duniya Na Mane.
Born in the present day Maharashtra, V. Shantaram took odd jobs in his teen to support himself like railroad repairs and maintenance work. To supplement his meager job when he turned 16, Shantaram took a job at tin shed cinema where he ushered people in and painted signs all for a sum of 5 rupees. For the young Shantaram, films were a medium to express social evils and he was mesmerised by the efficacy of the movies to deliver some message.
V. Shantaram fondly known as Annasaheb, had an illustrious career as a filmmaker for almost six decades and gave redefined Indian Cinema. He is known to be a man who redefined Indian cinema with hits like ‘Amrit Manthan’ which was produced in Pune by Pranbhat Studios. He is credited with changing the way Cinema worked as his works represented the culture and exposed Bigotry and other social evils in the society. Gender injustice was represented in flicks like ‘Amar Jyoti and ‘Duniya Na Mane’. In 1941 Annasaheb left Prabhat and went on to create his own production house Rajkamal Kalamandir which gave Indian Cinema movies like ‘Shakuntala’ which ran for two years.
V. Shantaram was bold enough to walk on the path which wasn’t trodden before and directed ‘Manoos’ – a Marathi Film which explored the realities of a life of a sex worker. He was a man of many talents and also donned the coat of an actor in a film directed by him ‘Dr. Kotnis Ki Amar Kahani’ which was released in both Hindi and English.
Personal Life and Achievements
V. Shantaram married thrice, his first marriage was with Vimla and with her he had 3 children. He then married Jayashree who was an actress with whom he had 3 children. And his third wife was Sandhya who was also an actress and happened to be the heroine in many of his films. Annasaheb was also conferred with a number of awards which included his film ‘Jhanak Jhanak Payal Baaje’ bagging him All India Certificate of Merit for Best Feature film and President’s Silver medal for Best feature film in Hindi. His film ‘Do Aankhen Barah Haath’ got him President’s Gold medal for Best feature film.
The highest accolade for V. Shantaram came in 1985 when he was conferred with the prestigious Dadasaheb Phalke Award. He died on 30th October 1990 and was posthumously awarded Padma Vibhushan in 1992. ‘Jhanjhaar’ was the last film that he directed, V. Shantaram essentially was a social reformer who undertook crusades against social evils and had the magic of presenting these evils in a dramatic manner. Subsequently, his autobiography ‘Shantaram’ was published in Hindi and Marathi. His ideology and talents are still cherished today and he is a beacon of change and hope for new age directors and producers who are trying to bring change in the society through the medium of cinema.
Written By: Milan Bhardwaj