He brought colour to Kannada cinema

Ranga was 93 years old and is survived by his wife Shyamala Devi and three sons, Vasanth, Ramkumar and Krishnakumar.

“My father died all too suddenly, mainly due to old age; he had his breakfast this morning after which he collapsed,” the film maker’s son Vasanth told Deccan Herald in the evening.

Ranga who had made Chennai his home long ago passed away around8:45 am, his son said. On hearing that his father was slightly ill, Vasanth rushed to the city from Bangalore but before he reached home the end had come.

Starting his film career in Bombay (now Mumbai) in 1943 as a director of photography, Ranga got his initial training under ace cinematographer Krishna Gopal in that city. “Bhai Behen” and “Pardesi” are some of the films Ranga worked in.

Ranga then came down to Madras (now Chennai) during 1944-45 and joined as Director of Photography (DoP) under the famous S S Vasan film banner, Vasanth recalled. He was DoP for over 40 films.

Foraying into film direction alongside cinematography, Ranga made his first film in Telugu “Maa Gopi” in 1947-48, Vasanth said. Subsequently, he went on to direct and produce several films in Kannada, Telugu and Tamil.

First colour feature

Ranga is credited with having directed and produced the first Kannada film in colour, “Amarashilpi Jakanachari”, in 1966-67. Popular yesteryear heroine B Saroja Devi was paired opposite Kalyan Kumar in the film, while in the Telugu version she teamed up with Akkineni Nageshwar Rao.

That film went on to win the President’s Award, Vasanth said. Ranga made “Nithya Thamboolam” in Tamil with veteran actor Sivaji Ganesan and “Pattikattu Ponnaiah” with “Makkal Thilagam” MGR.

In all, Ranga directed and produced about 87 films in three South Indian languages, with a maximum of 18 films in Kannada alone starring the legendary Dr Rajkumar including ‘Mahishasura Mardini’ and ‘Kiladi Ranga’, Vasanth pointed out.


Winner of several awards for his contribution to the film industry, Ranga was conferred the ‘Putanna Kanagal Award’ in 1998-99, instituted by the Karnataka Government and the ‘Nandi Award’ of the Andhra Pradesh Government. The film industry here expressed deep grief at the passing away of Ranga.

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