The prominent name….equally and splendidly associated with the world of Cinema….as producer, as director, as actor, as screenplay writer, as editor, as studio owner, as financer…and above all a disciplined owner-person who established the name and his company Rajkamal Kalamandir as an ideal institution where work was the first and last word to stay with the company. From 1920 to 1983….Total 63 years, he was working and working in the roles that promoted the meaning of film making with total devotion. In fact, “Shantaram Rajaram Vankudre” popularly known as “V.Shantaram” is a name that perhaps needs no introduction at all. Still, I am trying to pay tribute to this Master of Many Marvels with couple of lines (I do not wish to go deep into his family and personal life, therefore there shall be no names). 1920 to 1931 he was associated with “Silent Movie” era and acted as main actor in 16 silent Marathi movies and “Savakari Pash, Maya Bazar, Maharathi Karna, Udaykaal” were top notch movies on account of mass appeal and box office returns. These movies were made in Kolhapur’s Maharashtra Film Company run by Baburao Painter. One cannot imagine now that the movie actor (he worked in that capacity) used to go to studio away from his house on Mahadwar Road (where Goddess Ambabai Temple is situated) carrying a huge heavy shooting materials, drapery on his shoulder. That was the work he did not refuse since every actor in that period performed those kinds of labour work as part of obtaining salary. While acting, thru such work Shantaram obtained many shades of technical knowledge too, including camera operating and mechanism. The day was not far away when Chitrapat Savakaras (Film Financers who were keenly watching progress of this smart boy among others) in Kolhapur asked him to go ahead to start his own way leaving the shed of Baburao Painter….that was the golden moment to begin the career as Producer and Director….the story of proposed movie set….silent movie “Netaji Palkar”. This was the movie that paved the next path of movie making….Talkie….and new company formed by four friends in Kolhapur came into existence….”Prabhat”….day was 1st June 1929. From that date, it was beginning of a long inning…movie after movie …more than 55 years of total work from silent to talkie ….from black and white to color….from Kolhapur to Pune and then Pune to Mumbai.
“Prabhat” was Aashirwad of Goddess Ambabai as per belief of V.Shantaram and it was joint venture. However, due to indifferences among partners, Shantaram left the company and wished to start on his own with new adventure. So he decided to form new name for his home productions. Name came into existence as “RajKamal” (“Rajaram” was father’s name and “Kamal” was his mother’s name). From 10th September 1943 he commenced his career from Mumbai and this company produced movies like “Dahej, Parchhai, Teen Batti Char Raasta, Subah Ka Tara, Zanak Zanak Payal Baje, Tufan aur Diya, Do Aankhen Barah Haath, Navrang, Stree, Sehra, Geet Gaya Patharone” and many other. All these movies were as successful as he expected and people all over India simply in love and admiration with V.Shantaram Productions, especially for story lines and film music. More than half century of life he spend and applied his efforts to his illustrious career as a filmmaker only, starting as an actor and later transitioning into a film director and producer. Bapu (people in Kolhapur area use to call him affectionately as “Bapu”) was one of the early filmmakers to realize the efficacy of the film medium as an instrument of social change and used in successfully to advocate humanism on one hand and expose bigotry and injustice on the other. None of the movie he produced or directed is away from social relevance. In fact, he was pioneer of such movies though initially he had been associated with number of mythological and historical films….but that was beginning of educating himself in various fields of movie making. In these 60 years of film working, he received many awards at international and national awards. His “Do Aankhe Barah Haath” movie won the Berlin International Film Festival Award while it won President’s Gold Medal for All India Best Feature Film. “Jhanak Jhanak Payal Baaje” also won similar awards. In 1985 V.Shantaram honored with Dadasaheb Phalke Award and received recognition from Government of India.
On 30th October 1990, this dear and respected person of all…. working from sunrise to sunset and even thereafter with number of duties with total dedication, finally call it a day…forever. The camera stopped rolling and that was the end of a great tradition. On behalf of all the members of AHFM, I wish to pay this tribute to one and only V.Shantaram….