Shivaram, a versatile character actor

Shivaram, a versatile character actor

He produced the maverick filmmaker’s ‘Gejje Pooje’ (1970) and ‘Upasane’ (1974) under the banner Rashi Brothers

Shivaram with Arathi in the film Naagarahaavu’ (1972). Credit: Special Arrangement

S Shivaram, who passed away at the age of 84 years on Saturday, was one of the most reliable character artistes of the Kannada films.

He had a gifted comic talent and worked with some of the biggest of filmmakers and actors in his six-decade journey in the film industry.

An enterprising man with a strong background in theatre, Shivaram assisted filmmakers along with his acting commitments in the mid-1960s before establishing a fruitful association with master director Puttanna Kangal.

Also read: Veteran Kannada actor Shivaram no more

Along with his brother S Ramanathan, he produced the maverick filmmaker’s ‘Gejje Pooje’ (1970) and ‘Upasane’ (1974) under the banner Rashi Brothers.

As an actor, he impressed the film fans as a cunning cook in ‘Sharapanjara’ (1971), a shrewd and mischievous brother of a heroine in ‘Naagarahaavu’ (1972), an alcoholic in ‘Edakallu Guddada Mele’ (1973) and as a domestic help ‘Shubhamangala’ (1975) - all directed by Kanagal. 

Film historian K Puttaswamy said Shivaram’s comic timing was not conventional. “Narasimharaju and Balakrishna were specialists in comedy and revelled in slapstick humour whereas Shivaram had the ability to blend comedy with well-defined characters,” he told DH.

This quality of the actor stood the most in the cult-classic ‘Naagarahaavu’. Shivaram played Varada, a cunning youngster who deceives his friend and protagonist Ramachari (Vishnuvardhan). Shivaram’s antics and hilarious dialogue delivery are a treat to watch.

Ace director Girish Kasaravalli’s ‘Thaayi Saheba’ was another example of his versatility. “Comedians wouldn’t be considered for state Awards in those times. Shivaram won it in a serious role and he deserved it,” Puttaswamy said. In the 1997 film set in the pre and post-independent eras, Shivaram played Venkobanna, a man with grey shades. “It was a performance that took people by surprise,” he added.

Shivaram produced Dr Rajkumar’s ‘Nanobba Kalla’ (1979) and directed ‘Hrudaya Sangama’ (1972) which is known for its melodious numbers. He was a regular in the thespian’s films. His attempt to be a lead actor didn’t pay dividends in KSL Swamy’s ‘Driver Hanumanthu’.

Shivaram had a long-standing friendship with superstar Vishnuvardhan and they worked together in hits such as ‘Hombisilu’ (1978), ‘Guru Shishyaru’ (1981), ‘Yejamana’ (2000), and ‘Apthamitra’ (2004).

A well-read man, Shivaram had a library at home and loved collecting books. He was active on the small screen till his last breath and was the backbone of the Karnataka Artistes’ Association.

Awards received 

Shivaram had received the Dr Rajkumar Lifetime Achievement Award (2010-11) and the Padmabhushan Dr B Saroja Devi National Award (2013) in recognition of his contribution to the Kannada filmdom along with a host of other awards.