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Ganapathi Venkataramana Iyer (3 September 1917 – 21 December 2003), popularly known as G. V. Iyer, was a well-known Indian film director and actor. He was nicknamed "Kannada Bheeshma",[1] and was the only person who made movies in Sanskrit. His movie Adi Shankaracharya (1983) won four National Film Award, including Best Film, Best Screenplay, Best Cinematography and Best Audiography.[2][3] His films were well known for their spiritual themes. He was born in 1917 in Nanjanagud in Mysore district of Karnataka state in South India. His most critically acclaimed films were Bhagavad Gita (1993), which won the National Film Award for Best Feature Film and was nominated for Best Film at the Bogotá Film Festival and Swami Vivekananda (1998), for which Mithun Chakraborty won the national award for Best Supporting Actor.

Ganapathi Venkatramana Iyer
G. V. Iyer, Indian film-director
G. V. Iyer
Born(1917-09-03)3 September 1917
Died21 December 2003(2003-12-21) (aged 86)
Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
Other names
  • G. V. Iyer
  • Kannada Bheeshma
OccupationActor, film director, screenwriter
Known forSanskrit film direction
Notable work
Adi Shankaracharya (1983)
Bhagavad Gita (1993)
Swami Vivekananda (1998)
Madhvacharya (1987)


He started his career at the age of eight when he joined the Gubbi Veeranna theatre group.[4] His first role as an actor in cinema was in the film Radha Ramana. Besides this he acted in a number of other movies such as Mahakavi Kalidasa, Sodhari, Hemavati, Hari Bhaktha and Bedara Kannapa. He is credited with providing breaks to two of the greatest Kannada actors, Dr Raj Kumar and Narasimha Raju in the movie Bedara Kannappa. Though Raj Kumar had acted in a single scene in a movie previously, the movie Bedara Kannappa where Mr Iyer cast him as the hero, is where he got his break and is regarded generally as his first movie. Iyer also produced the critically acclaimed movie Vamsha Vriksha. Based on an acclaimed novel by S L Bhairappa, it was jointly directed by B V Karanth and Girish Karnad.

He soon started directing his own movies. The movie Hamsageethe (music by Dr. Balamuralikrishna, B. V. Karanth and T.G. Lingappa) was well received and made him famous. Iyer wrote scripts, lyrics and produced and directed many commercial Kannada movies. Iyer's biggest effort was Ranadheera Kanteerava. He continued to make commercial movies until 1970.

In his younger days, he was committed to Gandhi and his ideals. He stopped wearing footwear from the day Gandhi died and never wore them again. He also wore hand-spun clothes colloquially called "Khadi" as was advocated by Gandhi.

He was proficient in both Kannada and Sanskrit and was soon to make the first movie in Sanskrit, about the famous philosopher Adi Shankaracharya (1983). The movie received the National Film Awards for Best Film, Best Screenplay, Best Cinematography and Audiography. It is believed that the movie made a great impact on Iyer.

He later made a film on Madhvacharya in Kannada and Ramanujacharya in Tamil. He also made a remarkable Sanskrit movie Bhagavad Gita (1993), which won Best Film at the National Film Awards of 1993.[5] The film was also nominated for Best Film at the Bogotá Film Festival.

He produced Natyarani Shanthala,[6] a historical television series on the Hoysala Jain queen Shanthala, who was married to a Vaishnava King. It was re-made in Hindi as well as in Kannada. It was based on several works by Samethanahalli Rama Rao in Kannada.

He later went on to make a movie Swami Vivekananda. It was an attempt to portray Swami Vivekananda, realistically. For this film Mithun Chakraborty won a national award for Best Supporting Actor. Mithun Chakraborty played Shri Ramkrishna Paramhansa. Though it had many famous actors such as Mithun Chakraborty, Hema Malini and Sarvadaman Banerjee, the movie failed commercially.

He was planning a film based on the Hindu epic Ramayana, with Sanjay Dutt playing the role of Ravana, before his sudden death on 21 December 2003 at the age of 87. His last rites took place at his Bharadhwaja Ashrama, near Dodda Aladamara, on the outskirts of Bangalore, near Kengeri.[1][7]


Director, Writer and ProducerEdit

Year Film Credited as Language Notes
Director Writer Producer
1954 Bedara Kannapa  Y  Y Kannada
1960 Ranadheera Kanteerava  Y  Y Kannada
1962 Bhoodana  Y  Y  Y Kannada
1962 Thai Karulu  Y Kannada
1962 Thayin Karuna  Y Kannada
1962 Gaali Gopura  Y Kannada Lyrics only
1963 Bangari  Y  Y  Y Kannada
1963 Saaku Magalu  Y Kannada Dialogues only
1963 Lawyer Magalu  Y  Y  Y Kannada
1964 Post Master  Y  Y  Y Kannada
1965 Pazhani  Y Tamil Original story
1966 Kiladi Ranga  Y  Y  Y Kannada
1967 Rajashekara  Y  Y  Y Kannada
1967 Gange Gowri  Y Kannada Dialogues only
1968 Mysore Tanga  Y  Y Kannada
1968 Nane Bhagyavathi  Y Kannada
1969 Chowkada Deepa  Y Kannada
1969 Vichitra Samsara  Y Kannada
1975 Aakhri Geet  Y Kannada
1975 Hamsageethe  Y  Y  Y Kannada
1977 Nalegalannu Maduvavaru  Y Kannada
1977 Kudre Motte  Y Kannada
1983 Adi Shankaracharya  Y  Y Sanskrit Madhu Ambat won national award for Best Cinematography.
1986 Madhvacharya  Y  Y Kannada
1989 Ramanujacharya  Y Tamil
1989 Wall Poster  Y Kannada
1993 Bhagvad Gita: Song of the Lord  Y  Y Sanskrit
1998 Swami Vivekananda  Y  Y Hindi Mithun Chakraborty won national award for Best Supporting Actor.
2001 Sri Krishna Leela  Y  Y Kannada Unreleased



See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b "G.V. Iyer". jointscene.[permanent dead link]
  2. ^ "31st National Film Awards". India International Film Festival. Archived from the original on 12 November 2013.
  3. ^ "31st National Film Awards (PDF)" (PDF). Directorate of Film Festivals.
  4. ^ "GV Iyer Movies Collectors Set". Retrieved 9 March 2012.
  5. ^ "National Film Awards, India,". IMDb. Retrieved 9 March 2012.
  6. ^ "Manju Bhargavi returns to work in Kannada". Retrieved 9 March 2012.
  7. ^ "G.V.Iyer Is No More". Retrieved 9 March 2012.
  8. ^ "40th National Film Awards". India International Film Festival. Archived from the original on 2 June 2016. Retrieved 2 March 2012.
  9. ^ "40th National Film Awards (PDF)" (PDF). Directorate of Film Festivals. Retrieved 2 March 2012.
  10. ^ "G.V. Iyer Awards". Retrieved 9 March 2012.

External linksEdit