Sankarabharanam (Telugu: శంకరాభరణం,English: Shankara's ornament) is a 1979 musical film in the Telugu language, directed by Dr K Vishwanath and produced by Poornodaya Movie Creations. It led to the revival of Indian classical music in Andhra Pradesh. The movie deals with 2 relevant topics-Decline in popularity of Carnatic music and the teacher-student relationship.
The movie is considered to be one of the best to have ever emerged from Telugu film industry. When the movie was dubbed into other south Indian languages, the lyrics of the songs were not translated into those languages. Sankarabharanam is rated as the 2nd best film of K.Vishwanath by telugu movie website.
The movie starts with an introduction by Viswanath,
"'Sisurvetti pasurvetti, vetti gana rasam phanihi' (Music is enjoyed equally by babies, animals and even snakes) We hope you appreciate our effort in bringing you the Jeeva Dhara of the Indian classical music."
"Shankarabharanam" Sankara Shastri is a very popular Carnatic singer. He is immersed in the Sangeetha Rasaamrutham (Nectar of Music) with his nirantara saadhana (uninterrupted practice). People come in huge numbers to listen his voice and considered him to be a great man. He has mastered the raga Sankaraabharanam. Tulasi(Manju) is a prostitute's daughter who has great interest in music and dance. She is also an admirer of Shastri and also learns music from him when he used to teach his daughter along the riverside. But her mother wants her to become a prostitute to earn money. One day a rich client of her mother's behaves in a dishonorable manner towards Tulsi and in order to save her honour, she kills him. But due to that incident she becomes pregnant. She is sent to jail and no one tries to help her. But Shastri tries to save her by consulting a lawyer who wins the case in Tulsi's favour.
Then Shastri brings her to his home where other people insult him as Tulasi is a murderer and of a low caste while Shastri is a devout Brahmin. Tulsi moves out of his house as she does not want him to face insults because of her but hopes to show her gratitude towards him.
Ten years pass by, pop music is now popular in India and Shastri loses his classical music lovers. He now lives in a small house with his grown up daughter. When Tulsi comes to know of Shastri's plight she tries to help him monetarily but gives the money through someone else. Tulasi inherits all of her mother's property and utilizes all of it to help him. She also asks her son to go to Shastri's home and learn classical music from him. After managing to get an entry to Shastri's home, he starts learning the Indian classical music from the maestro.
Then Chandra Mohan a musician falls in love with Shastri's daughter. Although Shastri rejects the marriage proposal at first, he later agrees after knowing the man's interest in classical music. Now, Shastri comes across Tulasi after a long time and comes to know that the boy in his house is her son. She arranges a concert where Shastri once again finds his lost audience come back to see hear his voice. Shastri sings at the concert and after finishing his performance, he dies along with Tulasi (who has a heart attack from the shock of his passing).
The film ends with both Shastri and Tulsi dead on the stage, and the mantle then passes to Tulasi's son and thus his legacy of Indian classical music is preserved.
Box office performance
- The film released in only one theatre and opened to empty hall. But it later turned out to be one of the biggest hits of 1979 owing to the positive feedback from the audience.
- The film had a 216 day run at Royal theater, Hyderabad.
- The success of this film triggered a sequence of other art movies in Telugu, including Thyagayya (by Bapu), Meghasandesam (by Dasari N. Rao), and Viswanath's own follow-ups to Sankaraabharanam: Sagara Sangamam, Sruthi Layalu, Swarna Kamalam, Sirivennela, and Swathi Kiranam
- It was remade in Hindi as Sur Sangam
- The film Dubbed in Malayalam as the same title.
- Film critic Gudipoodi Srihari called it as the best film he has seen after Mayabazar.
- National Film Award for Best Popular Film Providing Wholesome Entertainment (1980)
- National Film Award for Best Music Direction (1980) - K V Mahadevan
- National Film Award for Best Male Playback Singer (1980) - S P Balasubrahmanyam
- National Film Award for Best Female Playback Singer (1980) - Vani Jayaram
- The character of Sankarabharanam Shastry was reportedly based on Parupalli Ramakrishnayya Panthulu; who was the guru of Mangalampalli Balamuralikrishna.