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Shantala - A mega serial by G.V.Iyer

Natyarani Shantala', the 26-episode serial, will be screened in Bangalore DD - 1 shortly. Considered "Bheeshma" of Indian film world with his productions of international  fame like 'Sankaracharya' in Sanskrit and 'Swami Vivekananda', Iyer had produced the historical on the Hoysala Queen in Hindi. However, it could not catch the viewers as the Delhi Metro telecast it during midnight hours. Now, for the benefit of his Kannadiga viewers, Iyer has brought it in Kannada. 

The story is based on the work of a similar title written by late Samethanahalli Rama Rao. Vaidehi Amruthe plays the title role, while Sri Raghavendra Iyer is in  the role of Hoysala King Vishnuvardhana. Srinivasamurthy (Vikramaditya),  Sunil Puranik (Udayatiya), Dattatreya (Muddarasa) and Sripathi Ballala  (Gangaraja) are cast in other important roles. While photography is by P. Rajan, Hamsalekha has provided music. Dance direction has come from famous  dancers Usha Datar, Padmini Ramachandran and Sundari Santhan and songs by Hemanth, Kavitha Krishnamurthy, Sangeetha Katti, Latha Hamsalekha, Ramesh Chandra, Nandita, Archana Udupa and K.S.L.Swamy (Ravi), who is also the 
Assistant Director. 

The theme of the serial is Chalukya king Vikramaditya who is invited for the
opening of the Lakshmi Devi Temple at Doddagadduvalli, the first Hoysala style temple, misses the dance worship of the Hoysala Queen Shantala. He arrives two days behind schedule along with his wife Lakumi Devi. Shantala receives the Chalukya Queen and the latter expresses the desire of her husband to witness Shantala's dance performance. The queen of dance (Natya Rani) Shantala refuses the suggestion asserting that her performance is not an entertainment, but a sacred art meant for gods. Lakumi Devi goes back to her husband concealing her anger, while the Chalukya King becomes all the more desirous of seeing Shantala's dance performance. His Maha Mantri or Chief Minister Muddarasa begins to hatch plans to create an occasion for his King to witness Shantala's performance. Realising that a war with the Chalukya King in inevitable, the Hoysala Queen goes to Lakshmi Devi temple to offer her sacred dance, before proceeding to the war. Vikramaditya, who is present in disguise among the audience, witnesses the dance! 

A preview of the serial, cut to two hours, was screened before an invited audience at the Suchitra Film Society in Bangalore. Producer-Director of films and teleserials Gauri Sunder had arranged the screening. Dattanna, K.S.L.Swamy and Lohitashwa were among the chief guests. G.V.Iyer was also present. After the preview, a discussion followed on the new serial, Iyer answering several queries posed by 'Shudra' Srinivas, Lakshminarayana Bhatta, H.G.Somashekara Rao, Ravi, Hasakru and others. Former Chief Justice Nittoor Srinivasa Rao was also present. Iyer explained that he had taken the story nearest possible to historical authenticity after carefully studying a number of Hoysala inscriptions and works relating to the queen written by several Kannada authors. The Hoysala queen, who remains a follower of Jainism till last, despite her husband Vishnuvardhana embracing Srivaishnavism, passes through a lot of trauma. An honest and principled queen, she is often misunderstood and made to suffer in herself. Finally, the queen embraces death through the Jainism way of 'Sallekahana' at her native place, Siddagange. Iyer asserted that Shantala did not commit suicide by throwing herself from the Siddagange hill in Tumkur as made out in some writings, but as a true Jain she ended her life in a pious and religious way.

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