Vishanath breathed his last at Apollo Hospital in Hyderabad late Thursday. He is survived by two sons and a daughter.
The Dadasaheb Phalke awardee and five-time national award winner was suffering from age-related ailments. He will be cremated on Friday.
Born on February 19, 1930 in Andhra Pradesh’s Guntur district, he directed over 50 films.
Vishwanath was popular for iconic films such as Sankarabharanam, Sagara Sangamam, Swathi Muthyam and Swarna Kamalam. He also acted in Tamil movies like Yaaradi Nee Mohini, Rajapattai, Lingaa and Uttama Villain and shared screen space with the likes of Kamal Haasan, R. Parthiban and Ajith.
In 1992, he was awarded the Padma Shri and in 2016 he was conferred with Dadasaheb Phalke award, the highest honour in India for the film industry. In a career spanning over four decades, he also won the Filmfare awards eight times.
He also acted in over two dozen films across Telugu and Tamil industries.
Vishwanath began his career as an audiographer for Vauhini Studios in Madras. He later started filmmaking career under Adurthi Subba Rao and worked as an assistant director on 1951 Telugu film Pathala Bhairavi.
He made his directorial debut with Aatma Gowravam (1965), which went on to bag the state Nandi award for best feature film.
Vishawanath became a national phenomenon with his award-winning classic Telugu film Sankarabharanam (1980). It proved a huge hit and is still considered to be one of his best works.
Sankarabharanam, which spoke about the gap between Carnatic music and Western music based on the perspective of people from two different generations, won four National awards. It was later remade as Sur Sangam in Hindi, also directed by Vishwanath.
It was on February 2, 1980 that Sankarabharanam was released and he breathed his last on the same day in 2023.
He subsequently made many films that had art, especially music as their backdrop. These include Sagara Sangamam, Swati Kiranam, Swarna Kamalam, Sruthilayalu and Swarabhishekam.
His 1985 Telugu film Swati Muthyam, featuring Kamal Haasan in the central character as an autistic man who comes to the rescue of a young widow, was India’s entry for Best Language Foreign Film for the Academy Awards.
Kamal Haasan considers Vishwanath as one of his mentors. He had called on the legendary director during his visit to Hyderabad in November last year.
Viswanath made his Bollywood debut with 1979 film Sargam, which was a remake of his own movie Siri Siri Muvva. Kaamchor, Shubh Kaamna, Jaag Utha Insan, Sanjog, Eeshwar and Dhanwaan were some of his other movies in Bollywood.