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aka The Jewel of Shiva 1979 143’ col Telugu d/s K. Vishwanath p Edida Nageshwara Rao pc Poornodaya Art Creations dial Jandhyala lyr Veturi Sundara Ramamurthy c Balu Mahendra m K.V. Mahadevan lp J.V. Somayajulu, Manju Bhargavi, Allu Ramalingaiah, Pushpakumari, Tulasi Ram, Chandramohan, Rangarao, Baby Varalakshmi, Rajyalakshmi, Jhansi

Vishwanath’s musical hit is often presented as the film that transformed the Telugu film industry in the 80s. It borrows extensively from classical Carnatic music to tell the story of a relationship between a Carnatic guru and a prostitute. The prostitute Ratnaprabha (Bhargavi) runs away from home and is reluctantly accepted as a student, which brings the guru Shankara Sastry (Somayajulu) into social disrepute. When Ratnaprabha is forced to return to her ancestral vocation, she murders her customer but nevertheless finds herself pregnant. She gives birth to a son (Tulasi), who now studies under the guru although they are ostracised. Eventually Ratnaprabha 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. It is the first Telugu film to attempt a redefinition of mass culture, using calendar-art aesthetics in several garish dance sequences by Manju Bhargavi - many of them in front of temples - and classical music (the guru out-shouts the rock music created by his detractors). Successful mainly for its anti-Tamil and anti- North view of an indigenist Telugu classicism (cf. G.V. Iyer’s work in Kannada at the same time), spawning a whole genre: cf. Bapu’s Thyagayya (1981), Dasari Narayana Rao’s Megha Sandesam (1982), Singeetham Srinivasa Rao’s Sangeetha Samrat (1984), Vamsy’s Sitara (1984) and Vishwanath’s own sequels Sagara Sangamam (1983) and Swati Muthyam (1985). Somayajulu later played many similar roles, his presence being enough to invoke the Shankarabharanam legacy. Vishwanath remade his Telugu film in Hindi as Sur Sangam (1985) with Girish Karnad and Jayapradha.