When prominent personalities from T-town (Non-actors) reminisced about KalatapasviAcharya AthreyaAfter the tremendous success of Sankarabharanam, the great lyricist and writer Athreya wanted to felicitate K Viswanath in Gudur town of Andhra Pradesh. Viswanath responded saying, “Sir, it may be a fluke. Sankarabharanam may be a fluke. It may not be my real talent. If I am able to make four or five more films of the same quality as Sankarabharanam, then you may honour me.”Listening to this, Athreya became angry and berated Viswanath saying, “Tenzing Norgay garnered glory for climbing Mount Everest the first time. Did he say that he deserved the glory only after scaling the summit four or five times more or perhaps climbing all the mountains in the world? With Sankarabharanam, you have scaled a summit and that’s all that matters.”IlaiyaraajaIt’s not often that you hear Ilayaraja speak about a director or his greatness. Referring to the hit song Vatapatra Saiki….Varahala Laali from the film Swathimuthyam, Ilayaraja said, “Viswanath narrated the scene of a mother singing a lullaby to her child strapped to her back while going about her daily chores. I did not expect the tune I composed then to have the kind of impact it did. To the best of my knowledge, I gave him an ordinary tune without putting much effort in it. Later, when the movie was completed and I was doing the re-recording, I watched the song and became emotional. Viswanath with his placement of the song in the film and the way he shot it had turned it into something magical. His craft elevated an ordinary song into a classic. I am grateful to God for having given me the opportunity of working with a great director like Viswanath.”Paruchuri Gopala KrishnaParuchuri Gopala Krishna and Paruchuri Venkateswara Rao popularly known as the ‘Paruchuri Brothers’ in the industry have worked for nearly 400 films to date as star writers. “We had worked with all the leading directors of our time except Viswanath garu. We were really thrilled at getting a call from him one day and met him at his residence. We narrated a couple of scripts to him. However, he said that the scripts were great but he would be a misfit for them as a director owing to the expectations of the audience. He made films as a director from 1965 to 2010 and we very truly disappointed at not collaborating with a legend like him on even a single project. We asked him on numerous occasions to allow us to write the dialogues for his film even if the script was given by someone else. It did not materialize but God fulfilled our desire in another way. Viswanath garu acted in films written by us. We could not write for the films made by him but we were blessed to see him speak the dialogues for characters written by us. In the film Kalisundam Raa, he played the role of Raghavaiah. We were the writers for that film and we intentionally named the character Raghavaiah after our late father. We had the same kind of respect for Viswanath garu. Bapu-Ramana and K Viswanath are the only directors in Telugu who according to me believed that movies should not only have heart in them but also ‘art’. The industry will not get another ‘Kalatapasvi’. He has culminated his tapas and left for the heavenly abode of Lord Shiva. I offer my humble salutations to the legend.”MV RaghuTollywood cinematographer MV Raghu has worked for more than 50 films and had the honour of working for Swathimuthyam and Sirivennela. “When I got the opportunity for Swathimuthyam, I got a call from a colleague who said there would not be much scope for me working for Viswanath as he would take care of everything including the cinematography. On the first day of shoot, I never got any specific instructions from Viswanath but he merely gave instructions for the camera placement and kinds of lens he needed and the camera assistants would get the job done. I then realized that I was not working with a director who believed in merely coordinating the various activities on sets but a director who had absolute command over each and every aspect of the 24 crafts. I slowly moulded myself to his style to the point where he became comfortable with me and offered me his subsequent film Sirivennela as well. As a cinematographer, it was a humbling and learning experience for me to realize that I needed to shape my craft in line with the director’s vision and not the other way around.SP SailajaThe younger sister of SP Balasubramaniam and an accomplished singer in her own right, Sailaja played the role of an arrogant, young dancer in the classic hit Sagara Sangamam. When Viswanath who was her elder brother (cousin) first approached her for the role, she refused. Thereupon, she agreed to do the role after Viswanath managed to convince her father.The first shot of the film was filmed on her at the Ravindra Bharati auditorium in Hyderabad in which she has to dance in front of an audience comprising Kamal Haasan as well. At the last minute, she developed cold feet and informed the producer that she couldn’t go ahead with the shoot. “There is no way I can dance in front of Kamal Haasan of all people,” she said. The producer panicked and immediately went to Viswanath who came up to Sailaja and said, “Just do one shot. Forget that he is Kamal Haasan. He is Balu (Kamal’s character in the movie) and you hate him. Just give your shot and if the audience applauds, then we will go ahead with the shoot. If they ridicule your performance, I will let you go.” The first shot was done and the audience applauded. The rest, as they say is history. “Viswanath garu led me every step of the way, he guided me for every single ‘take’ and hand-held me for the entire film. Otherwise, I could never have delivered in front of stalwarts like Kamal, Jayaprada and Sarath Babu. The crowning glory for me was that I got to sing three songs as well in the movie,” remarked SP Sailaja.