Chennai, Jan 9: A genius in his own right, filmmaker S. Ramanathan, one of the most admired film personalities in the southern film industry, worked with many stalwarts such as Rajinikanth, Kamal Haasan and Vishnuvardhan and Bollywood megastar Amitabh Bahchcan before he bid his final adieu Wednesday.
Ramanathan, known for making films in various southern languages as well as Hindi, died Wednesday. He was 83.
Producer-director-actor Dwarakish, a close friend of Ramanathan, says his death is a great loss for the Indian film industry in general and the southern film industry in particular.
"S. Ramanathan was known as Sirji in the film industry circle. He rose from the ranks to become one of the most admired film personalities in the country," said Dwarakish, adding that Ramanathan's Shalimar Hotel in Mumbai, was frequently visited by many southern producers, directors and stars who were shooting for their film in the metropolis.
Producer Soorappa Babu said Sirji is an inspiration for many.
"Sirji was certainly one of the most respected film personalities in the Kannada film industry. He was liked by legendary artists like Raj Kumar, Vishnuvardhan, veteran director Puttanna Kanagal and many others. He is an inspiration to many ambitious producers," said Soorappa Babu.
Ramanathan started his career with theatre in Bangalore and spent most of his early days in the city. He later shifted to Madras, now known as Chennai, mainly because in the late 1950s and early 1960s the city was known for its film activities.
He first worked as an assistant to the then well-known director A. Bhim Singh and later turned director with 1959 Malayalam movie "Naadodikal" and followed it up with movies like "Shreekovil" (1962) and two years later came out with "Devaalayam".
After the success of his guru Bhim Singh's Tamil road movie "Madras To Pondicherry", which was directed by Thirumalai-Mahalingam, he decide to remake it in Hindi and moved to Mumbai.
He titled the Hindi version "Bombay to Goa" and roped in then struggling actor Amitabh Bachchan in the lead role. The film became a hit and marked his long relationship with Amitabh with whom he made films like "Mahaan", in which the Bollywood megastar played a triple role.
His film "Geraftaar", with which he turned producer in 1985, featured the power trio of Amitabh, Rajinikanth and Kamal in the lead roles. He also produced Amitabh-starrer "Gangaa Jamunaa Saraswathi".
As a director, his last film with Big B was "Zamaanat", which is yet to hit the screen.
Ramanathan also made films with legendary artists like Raj Kumar, Rajinikanth, Kamal Haasan, Vishnuvardhan, and Shivaraj Kumar in various languages.