He brought a change from silent cinema to technology and scripts
A pioneer in Hindi cinema of the 1900s, V Shantaram was an actor, director, and a storyteller par excellence. Right from acting to bringing to screen narrations that were otherwise deemed unfit for the society at that time, Shantaram truly revered his art. In fact, it was not just the acting and his impeccable story sense that made him a great artist but his knack for introducing innovative editing and cinematography techniques. He is most famously known for films such as Dr. Kotnis Ki Amar Kahani, Amar Bhoopali, JhanakJhanakPayalBaaje, Do AankhenBarahHaath, Navrang, Duniya Na Mane, Pinjara, Chani, IyeMarathicheNagari and Zunj.
The beginning of Shantaram
Bornas ShantaramRajaramVankudre in Nagpur, it took him many years to finally realize his true calling for theatre and cinema. He started by doing odd jobs in Maharashtra Film Co. and made his debut as an actor in the silent film Surekha Haran in 1921. This was just the beginning for Shantaram realizing the power of cinema as a medium to bring about change in narrative that will affect society.
The making of the filmmaker
He gave a new grammar to filmmaking in India as he saw an opportunity in showcasing films dealing in social, economic, and political problems of a society that was struggling under colonial rule, which later translated to showing a country trying to establish its place as a nation. At the same the time he had a very keen interest in music.
He directed his first film Netaji Palkar, in 1927 and two years later founded the Prabhat Film Company along with four other people. The company made films Ayodhyecha Raja, the first Marathi language film in 1932 under his direction. However, he left Prabhat co. in 1942 to form RajkamalKalamandir in Mumbai.
During the period of 1920s-30s when the film industry was obsessed with mythological and historical narrations, Shantaram made films with a contemporary comment giving his female lead the power to question and defy the societal norms that were unjust for women. Interestingly, he never ever wrote a single screenplay, but yet his film scripts showed a unique Shantaram impression.
He worked for around seven decades, in the industry, producing 92 films, directed 55 films, and acted in 25 films. Most of his films garnered national and international honours but it was Do AankhenBarahHaath that won the Silver Bear for Extraordinary Prize of the Jury, at the Berlin Film Festival in 1958. He was also praised by Charlie Chaplin for his Marathi film Manoos, Chaplin reportedly liked the film to a great extent.