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Shivaram excelled at comedy, guaranteed quality

Last Updated : 10 December 2021, 18:04 IST

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Naagarahaavu
Naagarahaavu
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Edakallu Guddada Mele
Edakallu Guddada Mele
Shivaram with Manorama in Devara Gudi.
Shivaram with Manorama in Devara Gudi.
In Driver Hanumanthu.
In Driver Hanumanthu.

S Shivaram, the Kannada actor who recently passed away at 84, was a versatile legend. Be it in serious or comic roles, his effortlessness shone through.

As a tribute to the excellent character artiste, let’s look at some of his best performances from a career that spanned over six decades.

Sharapanjara (1971)

This Puttanna Kanagal-classic gave Shivaram his first big break. He plays a cook in the house of the leading couple (Kalpana and Gangadhar). This was perhaps the first film that authentically represented a character from Dakshina Kannada. Shivaram isn’t reduced to a caricature. He sparkles in situational comedy and the film’s humour stays away from being one-tone. ‘Sharapanjara’ talks about male entitlement and society’s attitude towards mentally ill people. Shivaram’s character later reveals grey shades and the actor appears convincing.

Naagarahaavu (1972)

Shivaram is a college student named Varada in this epic blockbuster by Kanagal. He is a boisterous man who deceives his classmate and protagonist Ramachari (Vishnuvardhan). The role wasn’t a unique one but it helped Shivaram become an established name in popular cinema. The masses enjoy Shivaram’s hilarious performance even today and his jokes have got a cult-classic status.

Edakallu Guddada Mele (1973)

Shivaram, who plays an estate manager in this film, is called Uncle by one of the lead actors (Chandrashekar). This is a typical Kanagal film that explores human relationships and taboos in society. Uncle is an alcoholic who becomes philosophical when he is ‘high’. His character is akin to Shakespeare’s clowns. He delivers life lessons that, in a way, are related to the film’s themes.

Devara Gudi (1975)

The film is directed by R Ramamurthy of ‘Choori Chikkana’ (1969) and ‘CID Rajanna (1970) fame. It stars Vishnuvardhan, Bharathi, and Manjula in lead roles. The film is about a feud between two families. Shivaram plays a man who becomes the bridge between the two. He loves to live a modern life and is always at loggerheads with his father (Shivaram again) for marrying him off to a village belle (Manorama). The actor is convincing in the double role. The film is famous for the melodious numbers (‘Cheluveya Andada’ and ‘Maamaravello’) that propelled SP Balasubrahmanyam to greater heights.

Driver Hanumanthu (1980)

Shivaram, who donned the director’s hat, also played his maiden lead role in this film. Hanumanthu is an honest driver who is dismayed at people’s dishonesty. He makes people laugh but also exposes their two-faced behaviour. As he meets a variety of people, his perspective on society keeps changing. It wasn’t a conventional lead character and that’s perhaps the reason for its box-office failure. Interestingly, Vishnuvardhan and Srinath appear in cameo roles.

Other noteworthy mentions

Shivaram was a musician with a comic touch in ‘Lagna Pathrike’ directed by KSL Swamy (1967). His acting impressed people, so much so that directors used spin-offs of the character in their movies. As Venkobanna, a man with grey shades, he was the surprise element of Girish Kasaravalli’s ‘Thaayi Saheba’ (1997).

His realistic performance as Mahadevayya, a sanyasin, in Girish Kasaravalli’s television serial ‘Grihabhanga’, an adaptation of SL Bhyrappa’s novel by the same name, is unforgettable.

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Published 10 December 2021, 17:50 IST

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