musical hit, Sankarabharanam (The Jewel of Shiva),
is often presented as the film that transformed the Telugu
film industry in 1980s. It borrows extensively from the classical
Carnatic music to tell the story of a relationship between
a Carnatic guru and a prostitute.
prostitute Ratna Prabha (Bhargavi) runs away from home and
is reluctantly accepted as a student, which brings the guru
Sankara Sastry into a social disrepute. When Ratna Prabha
was forced to return to her ancestral vocation, she murders
her customer but nevertheless finds herself pregnant. She
give birth to son (Tulasi), who now studies under the guru
though they are ostracized. Eventually Ratna Prabha becomes
rich and she builds an auditorium in the name of her guru.
During the opening performance, he has a heart attack and
the son replaces the guru on stage, extending the tradition.
is the first Telugu film to attempt the redefinition of mass
culture, using calendar-art aesthetics in several garish dance
sequences by Manju Bhargavi - many in front of temples - and
classical music (the guru out-shouts the rock music created
by his detractors).
film is successful mainly for it's anti-Tamil and anti-North
view of an indigenist Telugu classicism, spawning a whole
genre: Bapu's Thyagayya(1981), Dasari Narayana Rao's
Megha Sandesam (1982), Singeetam Srinivasa Rao's 'Sangeeta
Samrat (1984), Vams's Sitara (1984), and Viswanath's
own sequel Sagara Sangamam (1983) and Swathi Muthyam
Somayajulu later played many roles, his presence being enough
to invoke the Sankarabharanam legacy. Viswanath remade
his Telugu film in Hindi as Sur Sangam (1985) with
Girish Karnad and Jaya Prada.