'Everything I know about acting and direction I learnt from him.'
The mighty movie-maker K Vishwanath, who was to Telugu cinema what Satyajit Ray was to Bengali cinema, passed away on February 2, leaving behind a luminous legacy.
Actor-director Rakesh Roshan, who had the honour of working in four projects with Vishwanathji, recalls him with tremendous respect.
"Everything I know about acting and direction I learnt from him. He was a stalwart, an institution, and so passionate about his work," he tells Subhash K Jha.
"I had the privilege of being directed by him in two films, Aurat Aurat Aurat and Shubh Kamna. He would show his actors exactly what he wanted, down to the minutest gesture. His understanding of the medium was extraordinary."
Rakesh Roshan remembers how he invited Vishwanathji to make films for him: "I produced two films that Vishwanathji directed -- Kaamchor and Jaag Utha Insaan. While the first was a runaway success, the second didn't do well."
Speaking on how Kaamchor happened, Rakesh recalls, "Vishwanathji and I used to meet socially in Hyderabad. We wanted to work together, but we had no script. One evening when we met, he looked very depressed. When I asked him what was wrong, he said his new release Shubodayam had flopped.
"That night I went to see Shobodayam in a theatre in Hyderabad. The next morning I told Vishwanathji, 'We have found our script'.
"I told him where the story-telling in Shubhodayam had gone wrong. We corrected the script and that's how Kaamchor happened. Although the entire story revolved around me, it was Jaya Prada who benefited from Kaamchor."
About Jaag Utha Insaan, Rakesh Roshan admits, "It flopped because of miscasting."
"During those days, Sridevi was known in Hindi cinema as a glamorous heroine. We cast her as classical dancer. Mithun Chakraborty had the image of Gun Master G-9 (the name of his undercover cop character in Suraksha) and Disco Dancer. We cast him as a downtrodden underdog," he recalls.
"I was known for aamchor and city-bred characters, I was cast as a Brahmin pandit. With other actors, Jaag Utha Insaan would have been a superhit."
Rakesh last met Vishwanathji six years ago: "We were shooting for Krissh in Hyderabad. He came on the set several times. We had so much to say to each other. After that, we lost contact. He was very busy with projects. K Vishwanathji lived for his cinema."