V. K. Murthy

Venkatarama Pandit Krishnamurthy (26 November 1923 – 7 April 2014) known professionally as V. K. Murthy, was an Indian cinematographer.[1] Murthy, a one-time violinist and jailed freedom fighter, was Guru Dutt's regular cameraman on his movies. He provided some of Indian cinema's most notable images in starkly contrasted black and white. He also shot India's first cinemascope film, Kaagaz Ke Phool. For his contribution to film industry, particularly Indian film industry he was awarded the IIFA Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005. In 2010, he was honoured with the Dada Saheb Phalke Award for his contributions to Indian cinema.

V. K. Murthy
V K Murthy.jpg
Murthy in 2010
Venkatarama Pandit Krishnamurthy

(1923-11-26)26 November 1923
Died7 April 2014(2014-04-07) (aged 90)
Bengaluru, India
Years active1951–2001
AwardsDadasaheb Phalke Award

Early lifeEdit

Murthy was born on 26 November 1923 in Mysore. He studied at the Lakshmipuram school, where he chose music as his elective subject and learned to play the violin.[2] He obtained his Diploma in Cinematography from Sri Jayachamarajendra Polytechnic (the present Government Film and Television Institute) in Bangalore in 1946.[1] As a student, he took part in the Indian freedom struggle and was jailed in 1943.[3] Feeling strongly attracted to the visual medium and wishing to pursue a career in the field, he quit his studies and left for Bombay (now Mumbai).


Murthy began his career in films with Maharana Prathap. He worked as an assistant to cinematographer V. Ratra in the 1951 film Baazi which was Guru Dutt's first as a director. Dutt, impressed by Murthy's smooth and fluid captures with the camera, took him on for his next film Jaal (1952), which was Murthy's first film as a chief cinematographer.[4] Murthy, then became a part of the Guru Dutt team, till the latter's death in 1964.

In 1959 came Guru Dutt's Kaagaz Ke Phool, a film critically acclaimed as one of the director's best. More than anything else, it won many accolades for its cinematography and created unparalleled history in the field. V. K. Murthy, as the cinematographer won widespread praise and received the Filmfare Award for Best Cinematographer. He repeated the feat with Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam winning the award again in 1962. He worked exclusively with Dutt until the director's death. Some of Murthy's best work came in Guru Dutt's movies like Pyaasa, Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam and Aar Paar. Following Dutt's death, Murthy worked with Kamal Amrohi on his masterpiece, Pakeezah and Razia Sultan. Post Guru Dutt, he like many of the director's team was not able to give any pinnacle work. In later years, he worked with directors like Pramod Chakravarthy (Naya Zamana, Jugnu), Shyam Benegal and Govind Nihalani (Tamas).

Murthy was also the cinematographer for one of the most acclaimed Kannada film Hoovu Hannu, a directorial production of Rajendra Singh Babu and also appeared in that film in a role. Murthy was also the principal cinematographer of the widely acclaimed television series produced by Doordarshan and directed by Shyam Benegal, Bharat Ek Khoj.


  • Created some notable film works for the Indian Black and White era films. Created the sun breaking through studio roof shot in Kaagaz Ke Phool with the use of a pair of ordinary mirrors to get a parallel beam. It won him the Filmfare Best Cinematographer Award for 1959.
  • Was principal cinematographer for the first CinemaScope film in India – Kaagaz Ke Phool
  • While on training stint in London to work on color films worked with the crew of The Guns of Navarone
  • Got break in Hindi films by doing a chance shot for Guru Dutt in Baazi. Abrar Alvi Guru Dutt's key writer also got a break from the same movie, he gave a chance opinion on a scene for Baazi.

According to author and eminent musicologist Rajesh Subramanian, the to-be-famous Cinematographer V K Murthy was initially refused admission to the Sri Jayachamarajendra Polytechnic College in Bangalore, which had started offering a course in film-making, and was offered a seat only after much pleading. The aspirant went on to shoot India's first CinemaScope movie Kaagaz Ke Phool 1959.


Retirement and deathEdit

Aged 80, Murthy moved back to Bangalore from Mumbai in 2001 to lead a retired life. He died of natural causes aged 91 on 7 April 2014 at his residence in Bangalore.[3]

Selected filmographyEdit

  1. Hoovu Hannu (1993) (One and only Kannada movie)
  2. Deedar (1992)
  3. Khule Aam (1992)
  4. Kalyug Aur Ramayan (1987)
  5. Nastik (1983)
  6. Jugnu (1973)
  7. Naya Zamana (1971)
  8. Suraj (1966)
  9. Love in Tokyo (1966)
  10. Ziddi (1964)
  11. Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam (1962)
  12. Chaudhvin Ka Chand (1960)
  13. Kaagaz Ke Phool (1959)
  14. 12 O'Clock (1958)
  15. Pyaasa (1957)
  16. C.I.D. (1956)
  17. Mr. & Mrs. '55 (1955)
  18. Aar-Paar (1954)
  19. Jaal (1952)
  20. Baazi (1951)


  1. ^ a b Khajane, Muralidhara (20 January 2010). "Murthy first cinematographer to win Phalke award". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 21 January 2010. Retrieved 22 January 2010.
  2. ^ "Poetry in picture". The Hindu. 20 July 2007. Retrieved 7 April 2014.
  3. ^ a b "'Kagaz Ke Phool' cinematographer VK Murthy passes away". ibnlive.com. 7 April 2014. Archived from the original on 8 April 2014. Retrieved 7 April 2014.
  4. ^ "V. K. Murthy – Wizard of light". livemint.com. 7 April 2014. Retrieved 7 April 2014.

External linksEdit