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Directed by K. Viswanath
Produced by Edida Nageswara Rao
Aakasam Sriramulu
Written by K. Viswanath
Jandhyala (dialogues )
Starring J.V. Somayajulu
Manju Bhargavi
Chandra Mohan
Music by KV Mahadevan
Cinematography Balu Mahendra
Edited by G. G. Krishna Rao
Distributed by Poornodaya Movie Creations
Release dates
4th February, 1980
Running time
137 min
Country India
Language Telugu

Sankarabharanam also spelled as Shankarabharanam (English: The Jewel of Shankara) is a 1980 Telugu, musical drama film, directed by K. Viswanath and produced by Poornodaya Movie Creations.[1] The soundtrack was composed by K. V. Mahadevan, and remained a chartbuster. The film is listed among CNN-IBN's list of hundred greatest Indian films of all time.[2]

The blockbuster film has received four National Film Awards including the National Film Award for Best Popular Film Providing Wholesome Entertainment, and five state Nandi Awards. [3] The film was premiered at the 8th International Film Festival of India,[4][5] the Tashkent Film Festival, and the Moscow International Film Festival held in May 1980.[6] The film has also won the Prize of the Public at the Besancon Film Festival of France in the year 1981.[7]


The film begins with an introduction by Viswanath, "Shishurvetti pashurvetti, vetti gaana rasam phanihi (Music is enjoyed equally well by babies, animals and even snakes). We hope you appreciate our effort in bringing you the 'Jeeva Dhara' (Lifestream) of Indian classical music."

"Sankarabharanam" Sankara Sastri is a very popular Carnatic singer. He is immersed in sangeeta rasaamruta (Nectar of Music) with his nirantara saadhana (uninterrupted practice). People come in huge numbers to listen to his voice and consider him a great man. He has mastered the raga Sankarabharanam and hence is eponymous with the same. Tulasi, (Manju Bhargavi) is a prostitute's daughter who has great interest in music and dance. She is also an admirer of Sastri and learns music from him when he used to teach his own daughter along the riverside. But her mother wants her to become a prostitute to earn money.

One day a rich client of her mother's rapes Tulasi. He insults Sastri saying that now that he is done with Tulasi, she could go and flirt with Sastri all she wanted. Enraged by the disgrace towards Sastri, her guru, she kills the client. Sastri tries to save her by consulting his lawyer brother (Allu Ramalingaiah), who wins the case in Tulasi's favour and her mother is sent to jail. Then Sastri brings her to his home where other people insult him, as Tulasi is a murderer and daughter of a prostitute, while Sastri is a devout Brahmin. Tulasi moves out of his house as she does not want him to be insulted because of her but hopes to show her gratitude towards him.

Ten years have passed, pop music is now popular in India and Sastri loses his classical music audience. He now lives in a small house with his grown up daughter. When Tulasi comes to know of Sastri's plight she tries to help him financially but gives the money through someone else. Tulasi inherits all of her mother's property and utilizes all of it to help him. She also asks her son to go to Sastri's home and learn classical music from him. After managing to get an entry to Sastri's home, he starts learning Carnatic music from the maestro.

Chandra Mohan, a dilettante, falls in love with Sastri's daughter. Although Sastri rejects the alliance at first, he later agrees after learning of the man's interest in classical music. Tulasi then arranges for a concert on the day of Sastri's daughter's wedding, where Sastri finds his lost audience return to hear his voice. Sastri sings at the concert and halfway through it suffers a heart attack and finds his new disciple, Tulasi's son, take over the concert from him. As he watches him with pride, he also sees Tulasi and finds out that the boy is indeed, Tulasi's son. After the performance, he symbolically anoints the boy as heir to his music. Tulasi comes to her guru and falls down at his feet. The film ends with death of both Sastri and Tulasi on the stage.



Box office performance[edit]

  • The film released in only one theatre and opened to empty hall.[8] But it later turned out to be the biggest hit of 1980 and also one of the legends of Telugu industry owing to the positive feedback from the audience.
  • The film had a 216-day run at Royal theatre, Hyderabad.[9]
  • The success of this film triggered a sequence of classical films in Telugu, including Saptapadi, Tyagayya (by Bapu), Meghasandesam (by Dasari N. Rao), and Viswanath's own follow-ups: Saagara Sangamam, Sruthi Layalu, Swarna Kamalam, Sirivennela, and Swati Kiranam.[10]
  • The original Telugu version was dubbed into Malayalam which released across Kerala with overwhelming response.[citation needed]
  • It was remade in Hindi as Sur Sangam (1986) with Jayaprada.[10]
  • The film was dubbed in Tamil and Malayalam.

After this movie release number of people started learning classical music in Andhra Pradesh. Sankarabharanam songs most sung songs in telugu film song concerts.

Critical response[edit]

  • Film critic Gudipoodi Srihari called it as the best Telugu film he has seen after Mayabazar.[8]
  • On the centenary of Indian cinema in April 2013, Forbes included J. V. Somayajulu's performance in the film on its list, "25 Greatest Acting Performances of Indian Cinema".[11]


Year Recipient Award Result
1980 Kasinathuni Viswanath National Film Award for Best Popular Film Providing Wholesome Entertainment - 'Golden Lotus Award' Won
K. V. Mahadevan National Film Award for Best Music Direction Won
S. P. Balasubrahmanyam National Film Award for Best Male Playback Singer Won
Vani Jayaram National Film Award for Best Female Playback Singer Won
Kasinathuni Viswanath Nandi Award for Best Feature Film - Gold Won
S. P. Balasubrahmanyam Nandi Award for Best Male Playback Singer Won
Vani Jayaram Nandi Award for Best Female Playback Singer Won
K. V. Mahadevan Nandi Award for Best Music Director Won
Veturi Sundararama Murthy
("Sankara Naada Sareerapara")
Nandi Award for Best Lyricist Won
J. V. Somayajulu Filmfare Award for Best Actor – Telugu Won


The music, largely Carnatic based, was composed by K.V. Mahadevan. M. Balamuralikrishna was the original choice for the male playback singer, due to the heavy classical content of the compositions. But K.V. Mahadevan, having faith in the mettle of S. P. Balasubrahmanyam, insisted on him taking up this challenge.

All music composed by K. V. Mahadevan.

No. Title Lyrics Playback Length
1. "Broche varevaru ra"   Mysore Vasudevachar S. P. Balasubramanyam, Vani Jayaram  
2. "Dorakunaa Ituvanti Seva"   Veturi Sundararama Murthy S.P. Balasubramanyam. Vani Jayaram  
3. "Manasa Sancharare"   Sadasiva Brahmendra S.P. Balasubramanyam, Vani Jayaram  
4. "Maanikya Veena" (Poem) Mahakavi Kalidasu S.P. Balasubramanyam  
5. "Omkaara Naadaanusandhanam"   Veturi Sundararama Murthy S. P. Balasubrahmanyam, S. Janaki  
6. "Paluke Bangaaramaayena"   Bhadrachala Ramadasu S.P. Balasubramanyam, Vani Jayaram  
7. "Raagam Taanam Pallavi"   Veturi Sundararama Murthy S.P. Balasubramanyam  
8. "Sankaraa Naadasareeraparaa"   Veturi Sundararama Murthy S.P. Balasubramanyam  
9. "Saamaja Varagamana"   Veturi Sundararama Murthy S. Janaki, S.P. Balasubramanyam  
10. "Ye Teeruga Nanu"   Bhadrachala Ramadasu Vani Jayaram  


External links[edit]