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Film / Sankarabharanam

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Sankarabharanam (శంకరాభరణం - Jewel of Lord Siva) is a 1980 Telugu musical drama. The film is about the divide between Carnatic classical music and western pop music. Directed by K. Vishwanath & produced by Edida Nageswara Rao under Poornodaya Art Creations, the film starred J. V. Somayajulu as Sri Sankarabharanam Sankara Sastri and Manju Bhargavi as Tulasi. Tulasi is the daughter of a prostitute whose mother tries to force her to join the family business. Tulasi runs away and ends up seeking the shelter of her idol, Sri Sankarabharanam Sankara Sastri, a renowned singer of Carnatic music famous for his gamakas in the Shankarabharanam ragam. But Tulasi's mother comes and makes it sound as though Sankarabharanam is eloping with her daughter, ruining his reputation amongst the brahmins of the village. After being raped by one of her mother's clients, Tulasi ends up killing him before seeking the refuge of Sankarabharanam and his daughter Sharada. He accepts her and pays for her lawyer fees, but the village shuns him, causing Tulasi to run away. She ends up coming back to the village with her son, Shankara, a product of the rape. Shankara, on Tulasi's advice, goes to learn music under the tutelage of Sankarabharanam, but since classical music is no longer valued as it once was, the old musician is now in financial ruin.


Sankarabharanam contains examples of:

  • Bittersweet Ending: Sankarabharanam and Tulasi both end up dead, but Kameshwara and Sharada end up marrying and taking in Shankara and Sankarabharanam ended up having his final concert beloved as he once was.
  • Grumpy Old Man: Sankarabharanam and the lawyer complain about the way that modern music has removed classical music from the public's mind.
  • Fanfare: When Sankarabharanam arrives in Bangalore, the background music is playing Elā nī daya rādu
  • How the Mighty Have Fallen: Sankarabharanam starts the film as one of the most respected and wealthiest people in the village. By the time that Tulasi returns, he is very poor and the laughing stock of the community. He regains his status, but not his wealth, before he dies at the end.
  • Incurable Cough of Death: Shankarabharanam coughs on while trying to get a loan and again on stage, before dying suddenly.
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  • Protagonist Title: Sankarabharanam is the nickname of the main character, but it is also the name of the ragam of the opening song, as well as the name of the opening song itself.
  • The Quiet One: Tulasi only talks twice in the film - once to her son and once to the banker to repay Sankarabharanam's loan for him. However, he does sing quite a bit, and does talk in the beginning of the film, but all dialogue is muted at the beginning.
    • Sankarabharanam also only speaks when necessary.