Film producer Bhaktavatsala no more

M Bhaktavatsala

Noted film critic, producer, distributor, actor and activist M Bhaktavatsala (84) passed away on Sunday in Bengaluru. Popularly referred to as ‘Bhakta’ by his peers, Moola Bhaktavatsala, son of Moola Rangappa, was a quintessential Renaissance man and he was heavily responsible for putting motion picture in India on an industrial pedestal.

A management graduate from the UK, Bhaktavatsala joined the Hindustan Machine Tools (HMT) as its Industrial Relations Officer in 1958. Prior to his stint with HMT, he had served as the first company secretary of The Printers (Mysore) Private Limited, the publisher of Deccan Herald and Prajavani newspapers. Later, he also served on its board of directors.

He quit HMT when he was a step away from becoming the general manager as he passionately pursued his interest in organisational aspects of the film industry. Bhaktavatsala served as the president of the Karnataka Film Chamber of Commerce (KFCC) for almost a decade. In fact, many film chambers across India adopted the policies that he brought in at KFCC as president. As a film producer, Bhaktavatsala was known for his films ‘Kanneshwara Rama,’ ‘Sampoorna Ramayana,’ ‘Sandhyaraga,’ ‘Samskara’ etc.

Later, he was also the president of the South Indian Film Chamber of Commerce, the Film Federation of India, Director of the National Film Development Corporation (NFDC) and a prominent member of the Central Board of Film Certification, sometimes called the Censor Board.

A voracious reader, Bhaktavatsala always felt that the adaptation of rich Kannada literature into films is perhaps the way to revive the Kannada film industry (nicknamed Sandalwood) which is increasingly imitating Bollywood. Honouring his services to the film industry, the state government in 2012 presented him with the Dr Raj Kumar award.

Bhaktavatsala was a notable Bangalorean and served as the president of the famous Bangalore Club. He was credited with starting a film club within Bangalore Club and running it for over two decades. He could be seen at the club every morning where he went for a swim even before the crack of dawn. He was a widely travelled person and loved hiking and treks. He was a member of the Karnataka Mountaineering Association (KMA) and was a patron of the organisation.

On Sunday after his routine morning swim, he returned to his home where he suffered a cardiac arrest and passed away, according to members of his family. Bhaktavatsala is survived by his wife, three children and grandchildren. Family members of Bhaktavatsala said that the final rites will be held on Monday at the Wilson Garden crematorium.

Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy has condoled the demise of Bhaktavatsala and stated that Karnataka film industry has lost a great leader.

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Film producer Bhaktavatsala no more

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